August 2020 – News and Views

President/B.A – Mike Mahar

Well, after five months of working under pandemic rules, where do you even start? We need to look back at how things evolved as we discovered all the risks and actions needed to protect us as employees and the customers we serve. That is the only way we can focus on the continued risks going forward.

Within days the City had thousands of employees working from home. This included almost every department within the City that you can imagine. Many of those employees are still working from home today. If we look back at how well the Corona Virus has been contained to date, for the most part, these have probably been good decisions. I think one exception was the elimination of most employee support services. These should actually have been enhanced to assist the hundreds of employees that had to access benefits or obtain timely advice specific to retirement choices or pay issues. However, most stayed home.

Additionally, you know who didn’t get to work from home? Over two thousand Calgary Transit Operators. You know who else hasn’t worked from home? Hundreds of our Trades people, Preventative Maintenance people, Fleet Services members, non-remote Office staff and in particular, our 110 Service Lane members. This group has been responsible for disinfecting the rolling stock that our members operate and the riding public depend on, to get them to work at the hospitals, doctors’ offices, restaurants and stores and have been essential to keeping Calgary moving through this pandemic.

For five months while between 75% and 85% of the general public has avoided riding public transit, you have been fixing, disinfecting, scheduling and operating public transit as front-line workers. Our fears of contracting COVID-19 are no less than those that have chosen not to ride. Our risks of serious health consequences are no less than those that choosen not to ride. Yet in spite of these fears, you’ve continued to soldier on.

As a fraternity, where the employer has fallen short, we have stepped up. Whether it was their inability to provide personal sanitizer bottles or masks due to the Calgary Emergency Management Agency lock down or an ill thought out plan to maintain front door loading in the initial phase of the pandemic, our actions as a whole, were a big part of the success of keeping public transit moving.

I remember the first night in March when CEMA declared a local emergency. Our Service Lane Attendants were there until 4:30 in the morning disinfecting buses. This went on for weeks until Calgary Transit was able to adjust the sign up to closer reflect service demands and reallocate staff to spread the work out. All this took place as the workers were being threatened with the contracting out of the very jobs they were busting their tails doing to keep us all safe. Just stop for second and think how that must weigh on their hearts.

A shining light from all this, Calgary Transit informed us that they would not be looking at selecting a successful proponent to take over the service lane until October at the earliest. That would put the earliest start date to November.

Well, that was March and the Employer was desperate. Today is August and it appears they believe they have everything under control. We’ve been informed Bee Clean will be taking over the Bus servicelane at Stony Trail effective August 31, 2020.

Aside from the obvious lie to us around a November start date, they are using the same pandemic we have done everything possible to handle, to assist Bee Clean in pimping out our jobs.

The original proponents were told that they would not be allowed on the shop floor to either observe or train prior to taking over the contract. Our members would finish one night and the new contractor would take over the next night. Now Bee Clean has been given that advantage over all other proponents. Not only that, the City has staged a three phased start up that allows Bee Clean to train staff at Stony, then seed those employees out to AG, VP, SG and OB over a seven-week period.

I wonder how the other proponents would feel about those special privileges?

One thing for sure, Calgary Transit was certainly listening to Councilor Sean Chu, when he stated the City should use COVID -19 to contract out everything they possibly could.

The next time the City tells you that you are their most valued asset, consider this.

Calgary Transit is terminating 110 of their assets at the first opportunity they could and are using COVID-19 as a tool to boost the likelihood of the contractor’s success to do it. They are putting 110 of their employees on the street in the middle of the first world pandemic in one hundred years at a time when unemployment is 15%. This is the cruel end to their experiment.

But Calgary Transit isn’t just experimenting with the lives and income of our Service Lane members. They are gambling with our safety and the safety of the public. They are literally gambling with the fragile continuance of public transit during a pandemic. If this experiment fails, Sean Chu and his ideological counterparts will distance themselves from this and still seek reelection. They will simply blame it on those that contracted it out.

This is a deadly pandemic. Who decides to gamble on sanitization services during a deadly pandemic? If our system shuts down because Bee Clean fails as they’ve done with the shelters and stations, there will be fingers pointed and the fingers will be loaded.

Executive Vice President/A.B.A – Neil McKinnon

Members are now receiving updated information from their Supervisors regarding attendance. As part of the reboot of the Attendance Support Program, over 1600 of our members will be receiving a letter stating Transit appreciates how their attendance has been over the past while. Others have received letters stating they have been moved into the Program. Around 150 of our members have been removed from the program because of having a Chronic Episodic Disability (CED) that affects their attendance. If you believe you have a CED that affects your attendance, you must fill in Calgary Transit Annual Physician’s Update, which is a new form produced by Transit. The cost of getting this form filled out by your doctor is 50% covered by Greenshield. If you have any questions concerning the Attendance Support Program, call the office and we can help.

Financial Secretary Treasurer – Harry Lew

This is an updated report on the ATU 583 Covid-19 Member’s Benefits Program. We currently have 15 of our laid off Members taking advantage of Option 1 – $500 No Cost Drug Plan, and 5 of our laid off Members have taken advantage of Option 2 – Benefits Plan Subsidy. A reminder to our laid off Members that in order to receive the reimbursement for Option 1 you must mail in or drop off the original copy of the prescription receipt to the Union office. To receive reimbursement for Option 2 (up to $50/month) you must send in the official proof of payment by email, mail-in or drop off to the Union office. All expenses submitted in the current month are reimbursed by cheque the following month.

The ATU International General Executive Board voted on June 25, 2020 to grant the International President the authority to waive Constitution and General Laws (CGL) Section 18.1, Per Capita Tax and CGL Section 18.2, Dues, for the months of July, August and September, 2020, for Members meeting certain criteria. The criteria are as follows: The Member is no longer receiving a cheque from the employer, in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Recording Secretary-Maint./Office – Bill Johnson

The Executive Board approved a motion to purchase 2000 masks at the April 9th, 2020 Board meeting to issue to our Operators in an effort to keep everyone safe. As supply was starting to get low, The Executive Board then approved the purchase of another shipment at the June 4th, 2020 Meeting and the second shipment included our Logo on the masks. The Full Time Officers then did a garage visit to SG and VP to distribute the masks to as many operators as possible.

There has been an uptake in ridership and in preparation for a possible return to school in September, Management has decided to recall some of the members that were laid off in May.

In the Maintenance area, they are doing a soft reopening of Stoney Trail Transit Facility on August 31, 2020. They have recalled 1 Preventative Maintenance Person, 5 Fleet Attendants, 5 Electro Trainees and 11 J1 Truck and Transport Technicians. With the recalls we will be doing a signup in the 3 Job Functions and that will take place on August 18, 2020.

Recent Retirements:

Colleen Deere – July Operations – 22 years

Robert Litt – July
Community Shuttle – 7 years

Warren Price – July
Operations – 42 years

Dan Roberts – July
Maintenance – 24 years

Trevor Sichmann – July
Operations – 32 years

Carol Svrcek – July
Operations – 34 years

Patrick Ward – July
Operations – 44 years

Lise Audet – August
Operations – 18 years

Barry Parolin – August
Community Shuttle – 21 years

Thank You Cards:
Harinder Dhesi
Charanjeet Gill

Contact Us:

Ph: (403) -258-1258
Fax: (403) 258-1355

Social Media:

-Facebook: ATULocal583
-Twitter: ATULocal583
-Telegram: Please text Harry Lew to be added to our Official ATU 583 Telegram Messaging Group 403-404-4564

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