ATU Local 615 President Darcy Pederson has been calling on Saskatoon Transit to retrotfit the City Of Saskatoon buses with protect

The union representing Saskatoon's transit drivers is calling on the city to bring in security officers to enforce the mandatory mask rule.

SASKATOON -- Saskatoon’s transit union would like to see help for drivers who encounter riders not willing to comply with the City of Saskatoon's mask mandate on city buses.

If someone who isn’t wearing a mask boards a bus in Saskatoon, riders shouldn’t look to their driver for help.

Despite it being mandatory to wear a face mask on city transit, the lack of enforcement by operators is a matter of safety.

“Operator assaults are at an all-time high,” said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615 president/business agent Darcy Pederson. “We don’t want to put our people at risk.”

According to a Saskatoon Transit statement shared by the City of Saskatoon, transit operators in the city do not enforce mask compliance for safety reasons.

Saskatoon Transit tests full safety shield to better protect drivers | CBC News

There have been 28 assaults on transit drivers since 2017, according to a report to city council

Saskatoon Transit has installed the first safety shield in one of its buses in a bid to better protect its drivers.

Today is a very proud day for ATU Local 615!! Today the first prototype for an Operator Assault Barrier was finished being installed.

SASKATOON -- Darcy Pederson says Saskatoon Transit drivers could benefit from more training when it comes to dealing with abusive and aggressive transit users.

On Monday the city’s Standing Policy Committee for Transportation heard from Darcy Pederson, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 615, while reviewing a city report which showed 130 negative interactions reported on transit buses in 2020 – up from 51 in 2017.

Pederson told the committee the 266 transit operators in Saskatoon would benefit from better training in de-escalation techniques.

Saskatoon Transit operators reported 130 "negative interactions" with passengers last year, well above the 76 recorded in 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic is thought to be at least partly responsible for a sharp increase in the number of “negative interactions” Saskatoon transit drivers reported last year.

New data from city hall shows that city bus drivers reported 130 such events in 2020, almost double the 76 recorded in 2019, and well above the 51 each in 2018 and 2017.

ATU Local 615 is the latest group to call for access to vaccines in the second phase of the province's mass immunization campaign.

President of Local 615 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Darcy Pederson, is calling upon the Moe government to give priority vaccine access to transit workers as the government announced its next phase of vaccine rollouts last week. They once again failed to include transit workers. 

Transit professionals are some of the most vulnerable when it comes to the COVID-19 virus as a result of their interaction with millions of riders per day. The high volume of interaction has led to more than 3500 ATU transit workers being infected in both Canada and the US. 

The drivers' union has long called for more protection for its members; 28 assaults on drivers were reported over the last three years.

Saskatoon city bus drivers are set to receive the protection from violent passengers their union has long been calling for.

City council voted unanimously in favour of allocating $500,000 to begin outfitting buses with enclosed driver compartments. The goal is to find more money to retrofit the entire fleet of 140 vehicles beginning in 2022.