As ATU is a major stakeholder in the potential LRT implementation in Hamilton. we thought we’d reach out to its President of Local 107, Eric Tuck. Enjoy our chat with Eric.
1) On behalf of your membership can you summarize any concerns you may have about the potential implementation of LRT in Hamilton and how it may impact your members?
Our primary concern is the impact on the rest of our transit system. Essentially though the Province’s/Metro-linx procurement practices, they are attempting to Privatize Public Transit by insisting that the bid process is restricted to a design, build, operate and maintain for 30 years through the 3Ps (Public Private Partnership).
There’s been numerous examples that show 3ps procurement policies actually cost taxpayers 30% more over public implementation/operations and often result in greater interruption and diminished Services.
By adding Private for profit partnerships to a public service eventually those added costs get passed on to the community through higher fares, and taxes.
More importantly is the loss of local control over our transit system.
Operational Safety, efficiency, reliability and affordability with HSR is accountable by local government.
When things go wrong with privatized transit, everything gets blamed on the private consortium and local politicians throw their hands in the air saying they have no say on schedules, fares, breakdowns and accidents.
A local example is the blame game we witnessed with the stadium fiascal which finished late with sub standard workmanship and came in over budget. The City blamed the province’s procurement process. The Province blamed the contractor who in turn blamed the sub contractor who went bankrupt.
If area rating isn’t eliminated in the 2018 municipal election and the suburbs that have little or no Transit Services but tremendous growth- if they don’t get on board projected ridership, numbers won’t materialize and those costs will be added to the entire city and community and could place a drain on the over all transit system.
Other concerns are the impact on all transit during the 5 year construction period resulting in a loss of riders due to extensive delays or rerouting.
Finally the loss of approximately 40 to 50 good quality union jobs that could be replaced with low pay , precarious positions with no pension or benefits to put profit in the pockets of consortiums designed to transfer wealth to the 1%.
2. How has ATU been engaged to date by the city and/or Metrolinx, concerning the impact of LRT, and are you satisfied that the right conversations are being had?
ATU has not had been engaged as a stakeholder by Metro-linx. Our only avenue of engagement has been the public process where we have been repeatedly told the procurement process is not up for discussion.
Repeated requests for meetings with Metro-linx have been ignored including a direct letter to the Premier’s office.
3. How do you respond to those who may suggest that your members do not have the requisite experience to support LRT?
ATU and the Hamilton Street Railway have successfully operated and maintained a rail service in Hamilton for over half a Century. Furthermore we have operated one of the most efficient, safest and reliable transit service in North America for going on 118 years. I challenge any private contractor to match our record for performance.
4. Is there anyone or persons on Hamilton city council who best understand your organization as a key stakeholder and that you have confidence will be helpful to ATU’s interests?
ATU has several Council members who have committed to working with us and our passengers as well as many community groups to ensure ATU/HSR and more importantly, that local control over our Transit System in Hamilton is maintained by defeating Metro-linx 3ps procurement policies.
5. Do you anticipate a juncture at which you may have to take action for your members through legal counsel and through contractual provisions that you might rely on or reference, as it especially pertains to privatization?
ATU Local 107 will use every means at its disposal to defend Public Transit and its collective bargaining rights and provisions obtained over the last 118 year history in serving this community.
6. Why should public transit remain in the hands of the public, if that is what you believe?
Public Transit is a basic necessity. Just as lodging, food , healthcare and education is a necessity, so too is public transit and the ability to access those services. Most everyone, at some point in their lives, will be dependent on public transit. Students, person’s with disabilities, permanent/temporary, seniors and those who simply don’t have the financial resources to drive or who truly care about the environmental impact . Public Transit is a vital service which is a pivotal equalizer and economic driver of an evolved society. It has been the life blood of this community and every successful city in the world.
7. Is a strike possible if things cannot be resolved?
Same response as #5
8) Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about ATU as a stakeholder in the LRT potential implementation?
The professional members of ATU Local 107 have been serving the transit needs of this city and the surrounding communities for over 118 years. We have every confidence that after more than a century of helping Hamilton to grow into the successful and vibrant thriving City it has become. Our community will stand with us to ensure our public transit system through HSR/ATU drives this great city for the next century just as they did on November 24th, 1906.
President ATU Local 107