The following is an copy of a email that Al Luce sent to the Mayor of The City Of Pickering. He also sent copies to all of the members of council.
Dave, I am an employee of Durham Transit and as you are aware, a resident of Pickering. One of my co-workers advised me that there was a debate last week which I was unaware of and at that debate I was advised that you had made the statement when questioned about transit negotiations that there were no takeaways in the Region's proposal that you were aware of. I would like to set the record straight for your benefit and for the benefit of other councilors in Pickering who are probably unaware of the facts of the final offer from the Region. The final offer that was put forward by the Region offered 3% increases for each of the next 3 years. This was an offer that was looked on by the CAW members as very "fair", a word used to describe the total offer by Regional spokespersons in the news media. But after one gets by the wages, there appears to be nothing but "takeaways" in the Regions offer and I don't believe that any reasonable person would suggest that removing or cutting back benefits & working conditions that employees have had for years could possibly be described as "fair". The Region's bargainers have made offers that reduce overtime payments, wipe out sick pay for some people, cut back on vacations for full time employees, reduce premium payments, reduce payments for safety footwear and cut back on certain clothing allowances. There are "takeaways" in almost every area of the collective agreement, negatively impacting things that have been in our collective agreements for years. One only has to look at the final offer and compare it to the existing collective agreements at amalgamation to see the facts. The Region came into amalgamation with their eyes wide open. They knew what our collective agreements contained and what the costs were. To suddenly suggest that the employees are asking for millions of dollars more that the Region can afford (as has been suggested in the news) is misleading to the tax payers of Durham Region and certainly not factual. We simply want what we had prior to amalgamation and an opportunity to bargain for a new collective agreement with out giving away everything we spent years negotiating. If this scenario was unaffordable, why did the Region amalgamate the transit systems in the first place? We are now out on strike, 30,000 constituents in Durham Region are being inconvenienced daily and the Regional negotiating committee refuses to even have an unbiased third party involved so that we can all resume work and get the transit system going while an agreement is reached. Dave, as a commissioner of DRT I believe you and your fellow commissioners have an obligation to ensure that proper information regarding this impasse is passed on to the public. I also believe that using the arbitration process, getting everyone back to work and all the constituents of Durham back on the buses is of far greater importance than having this verbal sparring take place in the news media on an almost daily basis. I hope this information proves useful to you in future contacts with the public and your colleagues on the commission.