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Calgary Transit Union pitches last ditch effort to save 80 jobs

The Zero Based Review found savings by outsourcing transit’s Outside Maintenance Workers

Calgary's Amalgamated Transit Union 583 are hoping the city will reconsider eliminating 80 maintenance positions to save a quick coin.

Metro File Photo

Calgary's Amalgamated Transit Union 583 are hoping the city will reconsider eliminating 80 maintenance positions to save a quick coin.

While the city holds approximately $500 million in reserve funding, the Calgary Transit Union is disappointed they can’t kick a few million to their workers in order to save 80 jobs.

In 2016, as the councillors heard findings of another Zero Based Review, which promised $2.7 million in savings, but asked that the city outsource positions in order to achieve the economy.

At the time the move was met with an uproar, as the union noted they weren’t consulted in the review, which Mayor Naheed Nenshi agreed was a shortcoming.

In the end, council gave transit a deadline to find savings, or the jobs go.

But as the clock ticks toward that June 2017 deadline, Neil McKinnon, the union's executive vice-president said they’ve found savings of several hundred thousand dollars, but don’t feel there will be savings when work is contracted out.

His example is the city’s choice to outsource bus shelter maintenance – long story short, he says the union sees city employees picking up the contractor’s slack when it’s crunch time.

“There’s a complete lack of accountability, and then there’s the expense,” McKinnon said. “The city has already started contracting some of these jobs out.”

McKinnon said the wires are already getting crossed in these new contractor positions, and they’ve already resulted in safety issues where snow was dumped into the face of CTrains pulling into platforms.

“It should worry the citizens that this is going to happen, and it will happen more frequently,” McKinnon said.  

But Coun. Ward Sutherland said treating the union as a business is the best.

“The more important matter is two-fold: our city employees need to be competitive, if they’re union or not,” said Sutherland. He’s been pushing the city to see if they should be in the business of doing certain services in house.

“If they can’t be competitive, then yeah, they’re going to lose jobs,” said Sutherland. “Ultimately it’s the management’s responsibility to ensure that the contractors do their jobs properly and be held accountable.”

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