I write to you with great concern about the position advanced by the City of Saskatoon in relation to their collective bargaining with ATU Local 615. As President of SEIU-West, I wish to convey that many of our members rely upon valued transit services in Saskatoon on a daily basis, whether it be a service required to get them or their family members to and from work, school or some other community activity. For too many days, our members and many within the larger community of Saskatoon have been deprived of basic services as a direct result of the City of Saskatoon decision-making. You are not meeting your commitment to your constituents or your community. Your decisions have resulted in a great deal of disruption to many of our members and other working people and students in Saskatoon.
I hope that you recognize that truly solid agreements cannot be achieved when your workers are locked out of their workplace; this action threatens the loyalty and dedication of city employees. Comments made by your legal counsel, Patricia Warwick, in a Star-Phoenix report on-line story dated September 26 do not demonstrate that the City of Saskatoon is an employer interested in good faith bargaining as she is quoted, “Lifting the lockout would weaken the city’s collective bargaining clout.” Rather, it appears that the City prefers to employ further strategies of forced changes and strong-arming workers through economic pressure. This will not bode well with other working people in Saskatoon; our members work in the health care sector and within community-based organizations – they too provide a much needed public service. The citizens of Saskatoon realize that this group of workers that you have chosen to target work hard to deliver public service and earn significantly lower wages than others who perform similar work in western Canada. You are, quite frankly, losing the public campaign.
SEIU-West has recently cancelled transit ads that were booked to commence in October as a result of your lock-out. We are not prepared to move forward with an ad campaign that provides an economic benefit to the City of Saskatoon Transit Services when you choose to take such unfair and damaging actions against your workers. While the media coverage details that the City of Saskatoon wishes to return to the bargaining table, you would be best-served in sending a positive and respectful message to your transit workers. End your lock-out and get back to good faith negotiations.
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