The Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1505, has won its grievance against the City of Brandon.
Early last week, an arbitrator ruled that the City of Brandon was employing unfair labour practices when it offered temporary bus operators a guaranteed minimum number of hours without negotiating with the union first.
“The city felt they could do whatever they wanted to do by attracting temporary operators on transit and the arbitrator ruled that we have rights and the city was wrong in what they did,” said James Girden, ATU president, Local 1505.
The collective agreement between the city and the ATU was officially signed last May after 15 months of negotiations. It is effective until March 2015.
When the city added a guaranteed minimum of 20 hours for temporary drivers after the agreement was signed, the ATU filed a grievance citing the fact the minimum wasn’t negotiated into the CBA.
In April, the grievance was heard by an arbitrator.
Girden, who represents 35-40 transit operators in Brandon, said the whole process could have been solved prior to arbitration by negotiating with the union.
“There is a hefty cost to these arbitrations,” Girden said. “We have a responsibility to uphold our contracts and the city has lost the case which comes at a significant cost to the taxpayers of Brandon.”
Linda Poole, the city’s deputy director of human resources, said the decision to offer a minimum number of hours was made to attract more casual drivers.
The city was doing what was in the best interests of transit service in Brandon, according to Poole.
“The City of Brandon will respect and honour the arbitrator’s ruling, but obviously we don’t agree with it,” Poole said. “It’s disappointing, but that’s why we have arbitration.”
She said the city will continue to fight on issues where it believes it has a case and won’t be deterred by the high cost of the process.
“We use arbitration when we have two fundamental differences of opinion on what the CBA says or means,” Poole said. “The arbitrator has to rule one way or another and sometime you are correct and sometimes you are not.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 4, 2013