Ward 4 News

Councillor - Christine Billings

Monday Jul 28th - 2014

July 28th, 2014 at 11:30am

City administration and ATU Local 1189 to meet this week

Guelph, ON, July 28, 2014—In a joint announcement, the City of Guelph and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189 are letting the public know they will be meeting this week with regards to the current lockout of Guelph Transit’s union employees.
“We believe there is a way to end this lockout and get Guelph Transit running again soon,” said the City’s Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert. “We are hoping to see a reasonable and affordable counter-offer presented by the ATU Local 1189 executive that clearly represents the objectives of their membership.”
“We want to be working and serving our community,” said ATU Local 1189 President Andrew Cleary. “Any step that can help us move towards that goal is one we’re willing to consider.”
During this period of negotiations, the City and ATU Local 1189 will not be commenting to the media.

For media inquiries
Stewart McDonough
Communications Specialist
519-822-1260  extension 3356

Andrew Cleary
ATU Local 1189 President

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Friday Jul 25th - 2014

Transit Negotiations: How we got here and how we can get out

July 25, 2014

How we got here and how we can get out

The City of Guelph is interested, first and foremost, in having Guelph Transit back serving the community as soon as possible. To achieve this, the City needs to reach a reasonable and affordable contract agreement with ATU Local 1189. When transit is running for the community and the City’s employees are back in the workplace, City administration and their transit employees can address workplace concerns and rebuild a positive and productive relationship.


The following details the sequence and rationale behind where we’ve ended up and the continued hope for a fast resolution.


·         Exhaustive negotiation: Months of negotiations through to the end of June including 22 days of bargaining – seven with a conciliator – led to a list of demands from the ATU, which had not yet included a wage and benefit proposal. The union had indicated a wish to reach wage parity with Grand River Transit so we have included those figures in our calculation. The cost of ATU’s demands combined with wage parity with Grand River Transit would be:

o   $4.6 million in new dollars over three years

o   An additional 2.34% increase to property taxes over three years

o   20 to 30 new unionized drivers to cover requests for vacation days, lieu days, floater days, birthdays off etc.

o   No improvement to transit service delivery


·         First offer: On Wednesday, June 25 the City put an offer on the table with a deadline for union response that was missed. When asked if the union would take it to its members the response was it would take it to the members in two to three weeks with a clear endorsement against the proposal.


·         Final offer: On Friday, June 27 the City put forward a “final offer” to ensure a ministry-monitored vote in a faster timeframe.


·         Offer rejected: On July 11 ATU members rejected the vote – 186 voted no and 12 voted yes


·         Notice of lockout announcement: On July 12, Mayor Karen Farbridge and Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert address the media and public to provide two days of notice to the community before suspending Guelph Transit service.


·         Tentative agreement: At midnight on July 13 the City and union executive agree to a tentative agreement:

o   The union brought 15 items to the table for consideration andconsensus was reached on the resolution of the items.

o   Agreement to resolve that list included agreement on a binding letter of understanding about key workplace concerns raised by the union that fall outside the collective bargaining agreement (e.g. lunchroom and washroom facilities)

o   Signed by ATU executive and City administration

o   Ratified on July 14 by Guelph City Council


Typically, union executives only accept and take agreements to a membership vote if they are confident they will be ratified. 


·         Tentative agreement rejected: Union executive recommend tentative agreement that is “overwhelmingly” rejected by the union members.


·         Lockout reinstated: With the City’s original concerns compounded with an increased disconnect between union executive and members and potential instability within the union, the lockout was reinstated.


·         Why lockout: City makes decision to lockout ATU Local 1189

o   A consistent pattern of unexplained and lengthy delays leads City officials to believe the union is trying to delay negotiations to September before taking a strike vote. A September strike would create the maximum amount of disruption to the Guelph community (transit ridership moves from 7,000 per day in July to 14,000 per day in September) and apply political pressure in an effort to force capitulation to union demands.

o   Typically lockouts take effect immediately to protect the safety of the community, frontline service providers and property.

o   Exhaustive negotiations with a union that hadn’t moved on any items on the table; hadn’t offered wage and benefit requests; and, based on comments in the media, hadn’t been clear about its members’ main concerns

o   Working without a contract indefinitely creates uncertainty for employees and service users and continual negotiations is a perpetual drain on public funds.


·         Lack of clarity: The gap between union executive and members on the tentative agreement has not been explained officially by the union to City officials.


The union president and lead negotiator stated in a Guelph Mercury article on July 24 that: “I don't believe it's a mystery," Cleary said of the issues, "which were outlined in a package presented during negotiations last October. They know what was in that package."


Which takes us back to where we were at the beginning. ATU Local 1189 requests add up to a 2.34% property tax increase over three years to maintain existing service levels for on City department. To put that number in perspective, the 2014 tax increase from the City’s entire operating budget including fire, emergency services, public works, transit, parks and recreation etc., etc. was 2.38% total.


·         Union instability: The union’s negotiating team changed on June 18 with a slim vote margin and a second union executive vote is expected at the end of July. Another change in the negotiating team could mean new priorities, a new approach and, most certainly, more delays.


·         Counter offer: The City has demonstrated its willingness to make adjustments within the Council-approved negotiation mandate as well as its interest in addressing workplace concerns through the binding letter of understanding in the tentative agreement. A reasonable and affordable counter offer would be seriously considered by the City.

For media inquiries
Stewart McDonough
Communications Specialist
519-822-1260 extension 3356




Stewart McDonough, Communications Specialist
Corporate Communications, Corporate and Human Resources
City of Guelph

519-822-1260 x 3356
E  stewart.mcdonough@guelph.ca  

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Sunday Jul 20th - 2014

July 20th, 2014



Tonight, the members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189 voted to reject a tentative agreement ratified by Guelph City Council and endorsed by their own union executive.

With the tentative agreement defeated, the City has reinstituted the lockout originally set to begin Monday, July 14. Guelph Transit services are halted indefinitely until such time as the members of ATU Local 1189 reconsider the City’s offer.

The City of Guelph will be offering refunds to all Guelph Transit July 2014 pass holders for the second half of July. Details will be confirmed and shared in a subsequent media release.

A statement has been issued by the City of Guelph’s Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert detailing the City administration’s level of frustration.

For details on picket lines, City service disruptions and FAQs, visitguelphtransit.ca.

For background on the negotiation process, visit guelph.ca/atu.

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Monday Jul 14th - 2014

Guelph's User Guide to Local Government a first in Canada
Guelph, ON, July 8, 2014 –

The City of Guelph has published an online User Guide to Local Government - believed to be the first of its kind in Canada - that outlines how the municipal government operates and the by-laws, legislation, policies and procedures that govern it.
Designed primarily as a resource for new members of Council, the User Guide has been made publicly available so that it can be used by residents who want to better understand how City Hall works and by people interested in running for Council who want to learn more about what would be expected of them. It will also serve as an ongoing resource and reference guide for City employees and members of Council.
The User Guide can be found at guelph.ca/userguide.

Thank you.


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Sunday Jul 13th - 2014

Guelph Transit lockout cancelled – buses will be running tomorrow


Guelph, ON, July 13, 2014—In a joint announcement, the City of Guelph and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189 are letting the public know they have reached a tentative agreement and the City has called off plans to lock out Guelph Transit employees as of 12:01 a.m., July 14.

Details of the agreement will be released upon ratification by both parties.

“I am happy to announce that Guelph Transit will be serving the people of Guelph as usual tomorrow morning,” stated Mayor Karen Farbridge.

“The members of ATU Local 1189 have wanted to continue to serve Guelph’s transit riders,” said ATU Local 1189 President Andy Cleary. “For many Guelph residents we are their sole source of transportation, and we look forward to continuing to support our community.”

A day-long meeting, with the provincially-appointed conciliator in attendance, resulted in the necessary progress to cancel the lockout and keep the buses running for Guelph residents. During the course of the day, better understanding was achieved on the key concerns underlying the breakdown in the relationship between City administration and ATU Local 1189.

“We believe this agreement is a key first step to repairing our relationship with ATU Local 1189 and ensuring that Guelph’s residents continue to have the transit service on which they depend,” continued Mayor Farbridge.

All Guelph Transit employees are expected to join the rest of their City of Guelph colleagues on Monday, July 14 as the City’s regular operations continue unabated.


For media inquiries

Stewart McDonough
Communications Specialist
519-822-1260  extension 3356




Andrew Cleary

ATU Local 1189 President


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Saturday Jul 12th - 2014

City of Guelph to lock out ATU Local 1189 July 14


Guelph, ON, July 12, 2014— On July 11, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189 members voted to reject the City of Guelph’s final contract offer.

The City believes it has exhausted all traditional negotiation options and, with the support of Guelph City Council, made the difficult decision to lock out the 205 members of ATU Local 1189 and suspend traditional Guelph Transit service as of 12:01 a.m. July 14. Guelph Transit Mobility Service for existing pre-booked medical appointments (for example, dialysis appointments) will continue during the labour disruption.

“We are very disappointed in the result of this vote,” said Mayor Karen Farbridge. “The decision to lock out our transit employees was not made lightly. We know this will create enormous hardship for transit riders, for our transit staff and their families, and for our community.”

The City is providing a refund to affordable bus pass holders for the rest of July available starting on Tuesday, July 15 at City Hall. Further steps will be taken for all pass holders depending on the duration of the lock out.

Council has been advised that ATU’s combined extra requests and wage parity with Grand River Transit would cost taxpayers 4.6 million dollars over the next three years. That equates to a tax increase of almost 2.3 per cent over three years – solely to fund the delivery of transit.

“Council cannot in good conscience contemplate such a financial impact on transit riders and property taxpayers,” continued Mayor Farbridge. “Our goal from the beginning has been to reach an agreement that balances fair and competitive compensation with affordability for transit customers and taxpayers.”

There is no good time for a service disruption, but City staff chose to make this decision now, when transit ridership is at its lowest, rather than in the fall when ridership goes up by nearly 60 percent. 

“It is my sincere hope that our transit employees will take a second look at the City’s final offer this weekend – it represents a fair and competitive contract for our employees and is respectful of those who pay for the service. We hope to have our community’s transit service up and running again as soon as possible,” said Mayor Farbridge.

The City’s final offer to ATU Local 1189 includes in total a 6.4% wage increase over the four years of the contract, including:

-          1.7% increase retroactive to July 1, 2013

-          1.6% increase effective July 1, 2014

-          1.6% increase effective July 1, 2015

-          1.5% increase effective July 1, 2016

The offer protects all employee benefits and vacation entitlements, which are consistent with those of the City’s other unions. The offer is also consistent with agreements that other transit unions in Ontario have negotiated with their municipalities including Sudbury, Brantford and Waterloo Region.

 “The ATU requests would require an additional 20 to 30 unionized staff – a 10 per cent increase to the number of unionized staff with no improvement to transit service as a result,” stated the City’s Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert.

The negotiations have included an 18-month process with 22 days of negotiations, including seven with a provincially-appointed conciliator brought in at the City’s request.

“Unfortunately, from the outset, we have been met with unexplained and lengthy delays from ATU – which signals one of two things: they are unwilling or unable to bargain,” continued Pappert

The City’s offer of a four-year deal that would add less than one million dollars to the City budget or an approximately 0.5 per cent increase to property taxes over the four years of the agreement.

“We recognize all of this is cold comfort to those who rely on transit in our community,” said Pappert. “We have taken the unusual step of providing two days’ notice before the lockout begins. This is the maximum amount of notice we can provide, to give transit riders time to seek alternate means of transportation while still maintaining the safety and security of customers, staff, and property.”

The City will continue posting negotiation updates at guelph.ca/atuor updates on service disruption, FAQs and transportation alternatives at guelphtransit.ca.  

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Friday Jul 11th - 2014

City preparing to lock out Transit union members on July 14

Transit riders receive two days’ notice before service disruption


Guelph, ON, July 11, 2014—Today, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189 members voted to reject the City of Guelph’s final contract offer.

The City believes it has exhausted all traditional negotiation options and, with the support of Guelph City Council, made the difficult decision to lock out the 205 members of ATU Local 1189 and suspend traditional Guelph Transit service as of 12:01 a.m. July 14. Guelph Transit Mobility Service for pre-booked medical appointments will continue during the labour disruption.

On Saturday, July 12, media representatives are invited to hear comments from Mayor Karen Farbridge and Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert explaining the reasons behind the City’s decision.

What: Media opportunity to ask questions about Guelph Transit union lock out

Who: Mayor Karen Farbridge

Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert

Where: City Hall Galleria, 1 Carden Street, Guelph, ON

When: Saturday, July 12, 11:30 a.m.

For more information

David Godwaldt

General Manager, Human Resources

519-822-1260 extension 2848



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Friday Jul 11th - 2014

New Traffic Control Signal:
Elmira Road South at 19 Elmira Road South (Costco)
GUELPH, ON, Thursday, July 10, 2014 –

Please be advised the new Traffic Control Signal at the intersection of Elmira Road South at 19 Elmira
Road South began operation on Thursday, July 10, 2014. This is the location of the main entrance to
With this installation, the City of Guelph now operates and maintains 186 traffic control signals.

Steve Anderson
Traffic Signal Technologist II
Traffic Signals
Operations, Transit & Emergency Services Department
T 519-837-5628 x 2037
E steve.anderson@guelph.ca

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Thursday Jul 10th - 2014

City of Guelph final offer to Guelph Transit employees:


Guelph, ON, July 10, 2014—The City of Guelph is sharing details of its final offer to Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189 to ensure that ATU members, transit riders and Guelph taxpayers have an accurate understanding of the City's position.

Members of ATU Local 1189 are voting Friday, July 11 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on whether to accept or reject the City's final offer.

"Sensational and inaccurate comments made by ATU's president without context are simply a common tactic used to divert the attention of the public and union members from the details of what is, in reality, a fair and equitable offer," said executive director of Corporate and Human Resources, Mark Amorosi. “Based on recent comments made in the media by ATU’s president, the City believes that the public and our employees have a right to know the facts and critical details of the City’s offer.”

Key details of the City of Guelph's offer to ATU Local 1189:

·         Wage increases of:

o   July 1, 2013: 1.7% increase

o   July 1, 2014: 1.6% increase

o   July 1, 2015: 1.6% increase

o   July 1, 2016: 1.5% increase

·         No impact to employee health and medical benefits

After 22 days of negotiations ATU has yet to provide their wage and benefit requests.

The City’s offer is consistent with, and in some cases provides higher wage increases than, recent agreements reached between Ontario municipalities and their transit unions including Grand River, London and Sudbury.

“We encourage our transit union members to read the final offer for themselves and come to their own conclusions,” continued Amorosi. “We value the contribution of our transit employees to an important City operation and hope to avoid any service disruption.”

The City will continue posting negotiation updates at guelph.ca/atu.


For more information

Mark Amorosi

Executive Director, Corporate and Human Resources

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Tuesday Jul 8th - 2014

This was just recently sent to all of council:

July 8, 2014

Accountability Act Introduced Today
The Premier’s commitment to introduce new rules on transparency and accountability for the Province again captures other parts of the broader public sector, including municipal governments.
In response to the Association’s letter to all the party leaders during the election, the Liberal Party stated with respect to the Accountability Act, that: "Ontario Liberals remain committed to expanding accountability in the public sector. If we form another government, we will work with AMO and the entire Broader Public Service to identify the best ways to expand accountability and give Ontarians confidence in their public service".
AMO President Russ Powers wants the Association’s membership to know that AMO is very concerned that it has not been given any opportunity to work with the government prior to the Act’s reintroduction. A request for an urgent meeting has been sent to the Premier. "This government has an outstanding track record of pre-consulting and getting input and feedback, so this is an extremely surprising and disappointing situation" says the AMO President.
We have been advised that this re-introduced Bill has been amended to address another area but apparently there is no change to the municipal government section. If the Bill introduced today is identical to the one previously introduced, then:
•    A municipal government must appoint a municipal Ombudsman, no matter its size and if it does not, then the Provincial Ombudsman becomes the municipal Ombudsman by default. The Municipal Act currently describes the function of an Ombudsman (S.223.13.(1)) as reporting to a council on an investigation of any decision or recommendation made or act done or omitted in the course of the administration of the municipality. Investigations can be triggered by individuals or by the designated Ombudsman.
•    Even if there is a municipally appointed local ombudsman, the Ontario Ombudsman would have the jurisdiction to investigate complaint(s) after a municipal Ombudsman has completed and reported on a complaint of maladministration or decides a complaint has no merit and dismisses it. In practice, this means an investigation undertaken by an independent ombudsman is not necessarily the last stop. It would also permit the Ontario Ombudsman to undertake a systemic investigation where she/he believes there is a more universal maladministration issue than in just one municipality.
•    In terms of closed meeting investigations, there is no change to the appointment of an investigator. In other words, the current default model continues such that if no one is appointed by the Council then the provincial Ombudsman has jurisdiction. However, as above for maladministration complaints, there will be an ‘appeal’ process to the Provincial Ombudsman.
•    For those municipal governments who do not appoint and by default fall under the services of the Ontario Ombudsman, there is no ability to have a review of his/her decision. In other words, there is no ability to have the decision of the Ontario Ombudsman reviewed.
•    The Bill also does not scope in anyway the review of a municipal ombudsman or closed meeting investigation.
•    There is no change to the legislative function of either an ombudsman or closed meeting investigation. The law continues to require that the function of these positions be independent and impartial; to maintain confidentiality and have credible investigative processes.
•    In terms of application to local boards, AMO was advised that the original Bill would not capture police services boards, library boards, boards of health, boards of long-term care and Children’s Aid Societies and municipal corporations created under S. 203 of the Municipal Act.
This means that these entities would remain out of the jurisdiction of any closed meeting investigator or ombudsman. At the time the Ontario Ombudsman had been promoting that his Office would have jurisdiction for these boards. AMO received written confirmation in the spring from the Minister of the day that Ontario’s Ombudsman would not oversee them. We assume that this has not changed; however, we do not have a copy of the Bill nor its intended regulations to ascertain this.
The additional oversight approach contained in this Bill suggests that all the closed meeting investigators – all learned professionals, including lawyers, are not trusted. Yet, there has been no evidence provided by the government that in its eyes the system is not functioning to meet the existing Acts’ provisions for independence and impartiality, confidentiality and a credible investigative process.
Again, we call on the Province to engage in active discussion with us before this legislation proceeds any further.

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Tuesday Jul 8th - 2014

July 8th, 2014:

Good morning,

The participation rate results are in and we did it!  77 per cent of employees participated by completing an engagement survey! Another amazing result, and yes, it’s exactly the same % participation as in 2012.

On behalf of the Executive Team, I wish to thank you for participating in this year’s Employee Engagement Survey.  I’d also like to thank:
•    Managers and supervisors for encouraging and supporting employees to provide their feedback
•    Union Presidents for encouraging their members to participate
•    Petronilla Ndebele and Alison Thompson for communication planning and their terrific work in getting the word out about the survey
•    Kerry Pletch for her oversight of the survey process and ensuring communications reached throughout the organization

Our Next steps?  
Aon Hewitt, our consultant for the survey, is processing the results of the online and paper surveys. Once they have finished analyzing the results and preparing reports, our HR team will roll out the organizational engagement level results mid-September. Department level results will be shared in October and November by department leaders.

In 2015, we will use this valuable information to revisit our action plans making necessary changes to further build employee engagement and create a better workplace for us all.

Thanks again for getting involved and providing valuable feedback. Much appreciated.

Cheers and hope you are enjoying summer!

Ann Pappert | Chief Administrative Officer
City of Guelph

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Monday Jul 7th - 2014

Vote set for City's final offer to ATU Local 1189

Guelph, ON, July 7, 2014— Earlier today the City of Guelph received confirmation from the Ontario Labour Relations Board that the “Notice of Taking of Vote” has been issued. The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189 will vote on the City's final offer on Friday, July 11 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Results from the Ministry of Labour monitored vote are expected later in the evening of July 11 and will be announced at that time.
The City continues to post negotiation updates at guelph.ca/atu.

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christine.billings@guelph.ca | 519-826-0567

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