ATU Canada National President Condemns Callous Move by City of Hamilton to Wrongfully Dismiss Immuno-compromised Drivers


27 January 2021

HAMILTON - On Wednesday morning, ATU Canada was made aware that two of its members of Hamilton ATU local 107 were terminated by the City of Hamilton because of their ongoing medical condition. Although the employee’s doctors recommended alternate work, the City of Hamilton decided to terminate their employees.

Steven Burke, a 31-year bus operator with Hamilton’s transit service, received a transplant in 2017. He was initially given the go-ahead to return to work in 2020. However, as COVID-19 began to spread, he was advised against a return to work by medical professionals. Chris Markow, a 10-year operator, who is awaiting a double kidney transplant, was also advised not to return to his regular duties as he deals with a severely compromised immune condition as the COVID-19 pandemic put him at greater risk. Both have been fired by the City of Hamilton. 

In a statement to local reporters the City confirmed that they terminated both employees under “frustration of contract” because they claimed the employees would not come back to work. Accounts by both Burke and Markow state that they did in fact plan to return however complications due to COVID-19 have prolonged their absence.

“This is a cold and callous move by the City of Hamilton; in case they haven’t heard we are in a pandemic and it’s not business as usual.” said John Di Nino, National President of ATU Canada. “Transit operators like Steven and Chris have given decades of their life to serve Hamiltonians, and when they are at their lowest, the City decides to kick them while they’re down.”

Appeals to the Human resources department have been made on behalf of both wrongfully terminated employees by ATU Local 107 but they continued to be rejected. To make matters even more difficult, the City has moved the matter to arbitration which is being stalled by delays due to COVID-19. 

“We should all be outraged to know that Hamilton City management is doing this to two dedicated, long-standing public transit professionals and spending unnecessary tax dollars defending their inappropriate actions.” Said Di Nino. “We’re echoing the demands of our Sisters and Brothers in Hamilton and appealing to the public and Hamilton City Council to overturn the decision by the City of Hamilton.”


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