Halifax regional council is once again asking the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508 to take a final offer to the members for a vote.
The details of the final offer – HRM’s third – will not be made public until the union representing 750 transit workers vote on it.
The municipality has asked Local 508 President Ken Wilson to take offers back to his membership before, with no success. Wilson points out the union gave his team a mandate to negotiate on their behalf when they took the initial strike vote on January 22.
Mayor Peter Kelly said there has been no indication the union’s negotiating team will entertain a vote now.
“This time they have been out for quite a few days. Before, they were not out at all,” Kelly told reporters at city hall. “There may be a different expression of interest in this particular approach.”
When asked if that meant the municipality is trying to wait out the union, Kelly said he’s mindful the strike has been hard on the workers.
“To be fair to all, we want to find a way to get the operation back in operation, and so we have to find a way to break the ice and this hopefully that ice.”
The union shifted gears on February 14, suggesting binding arbitration is the answer to the impasse. Binding arbitration would allow a provincially-appointed arbitrator to draw up a new contract between the municipality and the union, ending the strike immediately.
But council rejected that route, saying they’d prefer to get a new conciliator and continue talks. The province has offered one of their top negotiators, Ken Zwicker, for that job – but the union saw no reason to return to the table.
Ken Wilson could not be reached for comment, but is expected to speak to it later this afternoon.
Metro Transit workers have been on strike for three weeks today.