CUPE SkyTrain workers have voted 95 per cent in favour of a strike mandate. The union says no job action will be taken before it meets with the employer next week for mediation in a last ditch effort to reach a new collective agreement.
“The strike vote result shows just how frustrated our members are,” says CUPE 7000 spokesperson Annaliese Hunt. “In light of other recent settlements with transit workers, there’s no good reason for the employer not to settle this. What we want is a new collective agreement so we can get on with the job of serving the public.”
CUPE Local 7000 represents 537 active SkyTrain operators, attendants, trades, maintenance workers, office staff and dispatchers. The Canadian Union of Public Employees members have been without a contract since last August and have met with BC Rapid Transit Company 25 times to try to get a new contract. Negotiations broke down last month.
The outstanding issues include modest wage adjustments and company demands for concessions in the form of extensive changes to the employees’ sick plan benefits and the introduction of a two-tiered system for retiree benefits.
“This should be very straight forward,” says Hunt, “we need a realistic contract that respects the hard-earned benefits our members have negotiated and a fair settlement for all our members.”
The union local would still have to serve notice of 72-hour strike notice with the BC Labour Relations Board before taking job action.
Strike action would only affect the SkyTrain Expo and Millennium Lines, which are both publicly operated by the BC Rapid Transit Company. ProTransBC, a private company, independently operates the SkyTrain Canada Line.