Oct 20, 2006

An open letter to members of councill

An open letter to Mayor Gray, Mayor Mutton, Mayor Parish, the Regional councilors of Durham and all Durham Region residents.

re: Durham Region Transit Strike.


As you already know, bargaining began over the summer, between our selected union for our group's first contract. The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Durham Region Transit (DRT) had some meetings and seemed to be making headway, trying to hammer out a new collective agreement. I understand that on July 14th, DRT stopped all negotiations. The thing is, the employees received a copy of the Regions 'final offer' late that day and the next BY COURIER! It took some doing to prepare & to print over 300 copies and courier them out by the next day, but the region did! I would not choose to use my tax dollars that way, but I did!
The Region had an analysis done to find out the possibilities BEFORE they took us into this amalgamation, the costs of which, I am told, are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars! I certainly didn't want to spend my tax dollars that way either, but I did! That analysis, would have stated that the bus drivers (Oshawa's Conventional, being the largest part of our new group) already had a contract with the CAW that included MOST of the stumbling blocks the Region now finds unacceptable! Why would they think the existing contract would disappear, taking everything away? It is my understanding, that to find a new contract you look at the existing contract (3 this time) and go from there. Our membership is looking for what we ALREADY HAD IN OUR CONTRACTS; what I hear and read about seems to imply that we are shooting for the moon!!!
Out of concern for our clients, 'specialized transit' had a meeting with our new union (prior to the Oct. 5th strike deadline). There it was decided we would volunteer to drive the dialysis clients to and from hospital free of charge! Our members would use this time in lieu of picket time. The DRT refused our offer and instead chooses to send clients (at taxpayers expense) by cab, not just to dialysis!
To hold onto the July 14th 'final offer' and not budge on any items, "until the CAW drops the main issues" is not bargaining in good faith. I suggest that all involved, quit trying to pull the wool over our eyes, we'll need it to keep warm while walking the picket line. Instead, please get back to the bargaining table, and let us do our jobs again.
As for the rest of Durham wanting whatever we end up getting, (if we even have a job) I feel it is unfair to place that responsability on our shoulders. If it is such a large issue, why did the region (Mr. Anderson at the helm) force AMALGAMATION on us? As I stated earlier, most of our 'demands' will be found in print in the analysis the Region got for our hard earned tax dollars. I feel that we the tax payers need some answers to the difficult dilemma we are all now in, BEFORE we have no transit system! On the Thanksgiving weekend alone, the Region spent over $10,000 to advertise its point of view, directing riders to their internet's web page, I can't imagine what the cost of their total campaign will be.
To the barganing units and the councilors, remember that our membership has the right to vote in the upcoming elections. I know that Mr. Anderson (at this time) is appointed, but the councilors are looking for all our votes next month! To my Durham Region neighbours, please be an informed voter (on this issue especially) our transit system may depend on it!

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

From a taxpayer, (not at present - I have no job)
From a Durham Region Employee, (not at present - I have no job)

From a VOTER,
Rhonda Hilton

Rhonda's comments: *** Thank you to all the great residents of Durham Region who drop by to support us at our different locations, bringing coffee and their experiences with them. I will never pass another picket line and not honk or stop off for a chat, this is not an easy thing to be doing. If we have to slow you down at one of these sites, think of all the issues and make a phone call. All the numbers are in the phone book for your area.

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