SkyTrain workers' union votes overwhelmingly in favour of job action

Nov 21 2019, 9:24 pm

Update: Michel Ladrak, President of BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC) has announced that the BCRTC and Cupe 7000 will resume bargaining talks this weekend.

“This is a very positive step forward and we look forward to finding solutions to the outstanding issues which remand between the parties,” he writes in an emailed statement.

The result of Tuesday’s strike vote with CUPE 7000 members has been announced. Approximately 900 SkyTrain employees have voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action.

According to a statement from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), 87.3% of Local 7000 members participated.  The vote resulted in 96.8% voting in favour.

Job action would only be taken, however, if an agreement isn’t reached with the BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC).

“This vote demonstrates that our members are deeply concerned that the company has not addressed our key issues at the table,” says CUPE 7000 President Tony Rebelo in the statement. “It also reflects the frustration that many SkyTrain workers feel about how long the process has taken, after more than 40 sessions at the table.”

The strike vote was announced by the union earlier this week when BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC) reportedly refused new bargaining dates.

Rebelo notes, however, that the CUPE 7000 is “prepared to sit down with the company at any time if there is serious intent to address wages, staffing levels, forced overtime, and the sick plan, among other key issues.”

He also says that this is the second time that the BCRTC has been offered additional bargaining dates prior to mediation.

Eight days of mediated talks had been scheduled to start on November 28, although both parties were free to re-enter negotiations at any time.

Michel Ladrak, president of BCRTC, says that the company is looking forward to coming to “a fair and reasonable collective agreement.”

“While CUPE 7000 members have passed a vote which gives them the option of taking job action, at this time the union has not given any indication of providing a strike notice.”

Potential job action by BCRTC workers would have an impact on the Expo Line and Millennium Line.

The West Coast Express, although under BCRTC mandate, is privately operated and maintained by Bombardier. In addition, the Canada Line is not under BCRTC mandate and operated by ProTransBC, with workers under a different union.

Talks and negotiations between CUPE 7000 and BCRTC are completely separate from those being held between Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) and the 5,000 bus operators and mechanics represented by Unifor.

At this point in time, there is currently no disruption to SkyTrain service as a result of the ongoing talks or strike vote.

Vincent PlanaVincent Plana

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