Transit union demands will cost $608 million, employer says

Nov 1 2019, 11:51 am

After talks between Coast Mountain Bus Company and the union representing TransLink’s bus drivers and SeaBus workers broke off on Thursday and the first phase of job action began this morning, it appears the two sides in the talks are no closer to any agreement – if anything, they’re massively far apart.

On Friday, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) said the union representing TransLink’s bus drivers and SeaBus workers is seeking $608-million on top of CMBC’s offer.

That gap represents a startling difference between what Unifor is asking for – and what TransLink’s CMBC says it is able to provide over the next decade.

Earlier this week, Unifor National President Jerry Dias said the “number one goal is a fair contract that ensures our members are working under safe and reasonable conditions so they can best serve the public.”

But on Friday, CMBC President Mike McDaniel said “analysis shows that union demands would amount to more than half-a-billion dollars over 10-years.”

This, he furthered, “is funding that would otherwise be used for transit improvement and expansion. ”

CMBC said that under its current offer, Maintenance Trade employees would see wage increases of more than 12% [12.2%] over four years, and Transit Operators would see wage increases of nearly 10% [9.6%] over four years.

McDaniel said he believes that the current offer on the table is “fair and reasonable, exceeding public sector settlements in British Columbia.”

He said the offer given by the union is $680 million across 10 years, while CMBC’s offer represents $71 million over the same time period – a $608 million gap.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, McDaniels said this gap is “far too much, and is not reasonable.”

Asked whether or not he believes it will take a third-party mediator to resolve the issue at this point, McDaniel said “if a mediator will help, then yes.” He stressed the need to “get back to the table,” and said “if it’s required to have a mediator with us, we’re obviously very amenable to that.”

As for what exactly accounts for the large gap between the union and the employer, McDaniel said it’s “fairly equally distributed across,” but it primarily from “the three categories of wages, benefits, and working conditions.”

He reiterated that “all of these concerns have been addressed in our current deal.”