COVID Changes to Operators Shifts

On November 01, this Monday, the City will begin enforcing its COVID vaccine mandate. The vast majority of us are vaccinated and have provided our documentation to the City. About 300 operators either have not provided the documentation or are not vaccinated. Of those, 1 member has been granted an exemption and 13 others have applied for exemptions, 23 have agreed to semi-weekly rapid testing, 16 are refusing to comply, 7 have terminated their employment. About 150 operators have yet to be heard from on the mandate.
The bottom line of it is that, come Monday, the City will not permit people to work if they have not complied with the mandate. Operators who arrive for work without proper documentation will be sent home on Leave Without Pay. And that means that a lot of drivers’ seats will stay empty.
The shift design area has been working night and day plus weekends to sort out the optimum scheduling for what could be a dramatic service cut overnight. They’ve triaged the entire schedule to make sure school runs are not affected. They’ve made sure, if a run on a route is missing it won’t be 2 in a row. And they’ve done it City-wide. To do it, they’ve had to make changes to some operators’ shifts, and the changes are dramatic. Some operators will be taken off their shift entirely and placed on the Spare Board. No one will lose pay hours over the changes. Everyone’s off-days will remain the same. There will likely be lots of overtime available for those who want it and can do it. Branch Manager Carrie Hotton-MacDonald will announce the changes publicly early this afternoon.
Here’s article 6.02.10:
6.02.10 No regular continuous shift shall be changed between sign-ups without the consent of the Union executive. All split extras, whether worked by spare operators or regular operators, shall be subject to change. If it is necessary to change a regular split extra, the Department agrees to do everything in its power to substitute comparable work; any material change will be discussed with the Union representatives.
In intense consultation with the Union over several days, the City has brought these temporary changes into compliance with the Collective Agreement. No straight shifts are affected. For those split shift operators that are affected, the City will “do everything in its power to substitute comparable work.”
The workload on the scheduling/shift design area has been enormous and the Union expresses its deep appreciation for the work they’ve done. The Training Centre, too, is working flat-out to get new operators into the system and they turned-in 2 classes on a single day last week. That workload will now shift to dispatch. It will be dispatchers’ task to take the work and shape it into shifts that look like “comparable work” as much as possible. Please take it easy on these members, remembering that they are tasked with doing a job, too. Everyone is doing their best to minimize disruption. Hopefully, things will get back to normal very quickly.
In the meantime, we have a service to deliver and it IS still a pandemic. Please take care, be safe and be healthy.
In Solidarity,
Steve Bradshaw
President/Business Agent
ATU Local 569