The city has put a media release out that wages and other issues have been resolved and all that remains between us is that we want a better pension than anyone else. First off, our bargaining wages and other issues at the table, we have made it very clear that and any agreements at the table are conditional on ATU members not agreeing to the agreement in principle document which effectively converts our defined benefit pension plan to a target plan. The difference is that allowing the city to cap their contributions and with the parties agreeing to the dispute resolution mechanism, are the two items ATU members are not in agreement with. Since 1964 this plan has functioned under a defined benefit structure, whereby we as ATU members contribute our wages into this plan and the city is the legal liable overall sponsor.It does not mean that we are not responsible partners to ensure the long term viability of the plan. We have always sat down at the bargaining table and agree to find solutions on how to ensure sustainability of the plan. After all this is our money in this plan, and as a condition of putting our contributions together with the negotiated city contributions ,the existing governing rules of the plan state that unless negotiated otherwise, the city is responsible in the event there are shortfalls. Even though the plan is still registered as a defined benefit plan, the agreement in principle that all others have signed, changes it to a target benefit plan structure. It now is a defined benefit plan without any guarantee that benefits might change at some point in the future. The city did not divulge the true financial picture of the plan at the point of bargaining in December of 2013. We have a certified actuarial report from a reputable actuarial firm confirming this. Even knowing this, we have attempted to discuss a risk sharing proposal for the future whereby we would agree to share the risk 50-50 for the future, but the city is adamant that ATU members are going to absorb all the risk and sign the same deal as the others. This effectively transfers 100% of the risk from the city to us. For the city to make claim that we have refused to take an offer back to our members, is accurate. Here are the reasons. They insisted that we give up our pension grievances and our right to have the arbitrator rule on the outcome ,and if we don’t succumb to their request then they are not providing us the offer to take back to our members. We provided language that we could agree with in regards to our pension grievances ,but they refused. I can state that we were prepared to let the membership decide on whether they accept or not, but because we did not succumb to their tactics in wanting us to drop the grievances, we don’t have an offer to present to you at this time. I must also state that we are not or would not have been recommending acceptance of their last offer based on the fact that they refuse to move off their pension proposal in any capacity. We told the city ,we would take it back, but would not recommend acceptance, but they declined to accept our language enabling us to have the arbitrator rule on the grievance. Hence we do not have an official offer to bring back to you at this time.
I want to clarify to you that we have not initiated any form of job action at this time, only because I believe in the best interests of this union that the issue of our essential services agreement gets dealt with. On Friday Sept 23 at 10 am ,we will be attending a tribunal hearing to present our facts to the tribunal . We will keep you apprised as events unfold, but as of now there will be no forms of job action initiated by your executive. There is a lot of uncertainty on what is the next course of action from your executive. In the simplest of terms, we do not have a collective agreement yet, and the city is putting out misinformation and half truths in an all out effort to make you believe that your executive is misleading you and that your executive has refused to take the last offer back to you. Casting all the blame on us and attempting to convince you to trust them more than you can trust us. I want to remind you of who locked you out and stripped one months wages from your pocket. Who told the world that they wanted to exert economic pressure on you so that you would succumb to their bullying into submission tactics and simply take what they are willing to give? Who is now telling you in their media releases that We care about our employees? If they truly cared about you, why are they taking 4 years to settle our contract. I can tell you that at least 3 candidates including the current mayor had to block their facebook accounts from people commenting on this transit issue. The fact we have shown solidarity and strength has had a tremendous impact by serving notice of job action. This could not have been accomplished without your support and believing that your executive will do everything within our control to bring closure . We have a plan and are committed to following through in fighting for fairness for our ATU members. Come out to the meetings on Wednesday to find out more information and we will gladly give you the accurate information. The city is playing this pit member against member strategy ,forcing us to focus on each other namely your executive, so that you forget where the real focus should be. The City of Saskatoon can fix this and we need to ensure that they do, by giving us a fair deal.
United We Bargain Divided We Beg,