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Union escalates York transit strike with picket lines at Finch station

Commuters faced delays Thursday morning as hundreds of striking York Region bus drivers picketed for more than two hours at the Finch GO station.

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) organized the rally at the busy hub after Progressive Conservative MPP Frank Klees said he hadn’t seen much picketing. Most workers had left by 8:30 a.m.

“Mr. Klees wants to see picket lines — we’ll show him picket lines,” said Bob Kinnear, president of ATU Local 113, which represents striking Viva workers.

ATU Local 1587 president Ray Doyle — who speaks for York Region Transit drivers from Miller Transit and First Student — says the workers are only asking for a fair contract.

The union has called for binding arbitration to end the strike, but the three private contractors have so far refused.

“We want to go back on a fair and equitable decision, which is what we put to the companies weeks ago, “ Doyle said.

“The companies — if they feel so strong that the offer that they made to these workers if a fair one — they have nothing to fear with an arbitrator. So obviously they know that what they’re offering is not fair … This is about our future and dignity.”

On Wednesday, Klees and fellow York Region MPPs Peter Shurman and Julia Munro introduced a private members’ bill at Queen’s Park calling for back-to-work legislation.

“The fact is that in the fifth week of this strike without a sign of a resolution — it would be irresponsible of us not to take this step to get transit back into service,” Klees said.

“Seniors can’t get to medical appointments, students are missing classes and jobs are being lost. No level of government should be washing their hands of this issue.”

More than 550 bus drivers walked off the job on Oct. 24 over wages, benefits and the length of shifts.