The contract negotiations between the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents 86 per cent of the MiWay workforce, and the City of Mississauga are currently underway following the contract expiration that happened September 30.
On August 6, the transit workers secured a 99 per cent strike mandate. Since that mandate, the ATU and the city have had several rounds of negotiations where they have exchanged proposals for a new contract.
“I can say that I believe both sides are committed, and we just hope that the city will continue to be committed to work on a resolve,” said the President of the ATU Local 1572, Jack Jackson, in an interview with The Medium.
The City of Mississauga is working towards becoming a transit-oriented city and getting more people to choose public transportation through expanded services and opportunities.
In a recent statement, the ATU discussed the Hurontario LRT project, developed by Metrolinx, and the possibility of the LRT being operated by MiWay drivers, instead of private companies.
“The problem we have with the private sector operating the [Hurontario] LRT is you’re watching $1.4 billion be pumped into the LRT transit system but the city is still on the books,” said Jackson. “So, you’re looking at a model where the city has responsibility, yet the city has no control of the operation.”
“We’d actually like to see that system operated by us so that we can help control the reliability of it and the fiscal responsibility,” continued Jackson.
Jackson stated that the ATU would like to see the city show more commitment to the existing transit system rather than the Hurontario LRT project.
“You take $1.4 billion and influx that into the current transit system, you have a whole lot more buses and people and more connections and you have a much more reliable service,” said Jackson.
On the relationship between MiWay and the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), Jackson said he values having UTM students as a large part of MiWay’s ridership.
“We want to ensure that we provide UTM the best service we can,” Jackson said, emphasizing the importance of reliability in transit geared towards students. “There has to be some type of streamline service and to make sure that it continues to be there.”
Jackson also discussed MiWay’s relationship with UTM students and believed them to be the driving force behind union members.
“We’ve always liked that we kind of watched the kids grow,” said Jackson. “I know a lot of transit systems have problems with students in general and that’s not our issue for sure. So, we’re very thankful.”
“Power comes in many voices and we’d love to be an advocate for the students. We just need to know what it is the students want,” said Jackson, encouraging the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) to keep in contact with MiWay for future projects.
“What you would really want to do is sort of pull internally to see what it is you guys are looking for, what it is you need, and then we can go to the city—we can go to MiWay and I’d be more than happy to help [UTM] with that.”
The Medium spoke with UTMSU president Atif Abdullah about his opinions on the 99 per cent strike mandate and the ongoing discussions between ATU and the city.
“As a student union ourselves, we do recognize that it is very important to sort of fight for what is right for your members and what is good for your members,” said Abdullah.
“We are now landlocked, which means that the university can only build underground garages, and if you’ve seen the price of CCT [parking spots], they’re not accessible by any means,” said Abdullah. “Our accessible parking will not increase, which means that there has to be a dependency on increased usage of public transit, which has to rely on a good partnership with MiWay to improve services.”
“It’s not an easy job, but at the same time, they’re doing it with a smile. They’re doing it making sure that people are happy on their bus,” continued Abdullah, in reference to the MiWay bus drivers. “I wish them all the best with their negotiations and hopefully they get what they’re looking for.”
The discussions between the ATU and the city are ongoing.