The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 will meet Monday morning to discuss the federal government's decision to force a vote on the city's latest OC Transpo contract offer.

The session will begin at 10 a.m. St. Elias Cathedral on Ridgewood Avenue. It's billed as an information meeting for the union executive to explain to members why they voted down the city's latest offer.

Labour Minister Rona Ambrose ordered the union to hold a vote by Jan. 9 after city officials asked her to intervene in the dispute last week.

The union's president, though, says forcing a vote impedes the collective bargaining process. In an open letter online, Andr� Cornellier is calling for striking transit workers to vote down the contract proposal.

"We will not bow down to requests destroying the way of living for us and our families; the way we have been even paying for since 1999," the letter reads.

"We will not have the Mayor of the City Larry O'Brien, Alain Mercier, City Council and general public decide for us what will be the working conditions we would have to endure for the rest of our lives."

Meanwhile, Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, sent a scathing open letter to Ambrose on Friday, calling her decision "unprecedented interference" that amounted to taking sides with the City of Ottawa.

"By acquiescing to the City's request ... you have enabled the employer to avoid its duty to bargain in good faith with the union to reach a negotiated settlement," Georgetti wrote

The Canadian director of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Robin West, sent a similar letter to Ambrose, saying the forced vote would "poison the working relationship at OC Transpo."

If members vote to approve the contract, a transit strike that has crippled the nation's capital for three weeks could come to an end. About 2,300 OC Transpo drivers, dispatchers and mechanics walked off the job Dec. 10. They had been working without a contract since April.

Even if the strike is settled soon, all buses will stay parked for five to six days while mechanics service the vehicles.

The main sticking point of the dispute remains control over bus driver scheduling, which OC Transpo management wants to take back from drivers.