TransLink bus drivers' union ratify new agreement with up to 12.5% wage increase

Apr 18 2023, 1:06 am

A new collective agreement has been secured for bus and SeaBus workers with TransLink subsidiary Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC).

Last week, members of Unifor locals 111 and 2200 ratified the contract hammered out by union leaders following successful negotiations with CMBC.

The agreement, spanning a three-year term retroactively from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2026, includes wage increases between 11.25% and 12.5% over the life of the contract, benefits coverage increases across 10 categories, shift premiums of up to $2.05 per hour, more generous vacation allowances, a weekly minimum work hours guarantee for community shuttle bus drivers, and improved watch differentials for SeaBus workers.

With a labour shortage exacerbated by the pandemic, and deteriorating cost of living in Metro Vancouver, employers in both the public and private sectors are experiencing growing pressures to increase their compensation and benefits to retain and attract workers.

Over the short term, just for 2023, TransLink is looking to hire over 500 bus drivers, including 445 drivers for conventional buses and 160 drivers for community shuttle buses.

Starting later this decade, TransLink will also be embarking on a major service expansion, including the doubling of the region’s bus services, and the major extensions of the SkyTrain network on Broadway in Vancouver and along Fraser Highway in Surrey and Langley City.

“This contract prioritized working conditions and provides wage increases that help maintain our members’ standard of living,” said Balbir Mann, president of Unifor Local 111, in a statement.

Mike Smith, president of Unifor Local 2200, added: “Our new collective agreement will ensure that total compensation is in step with industry trends and isn’t eroded by inflation.”

This deal with CMBC follows the previous highly heated and protracted agreement negotiations in Fall 2019, which resulted in the labour action of bus and SeaBus workers. At the time, a potential overlapping full strike of workers with SkyTrain’s Expo and Millennium lines was narrowly averted.

Unifor Local 111 represents over 4,000 bus drivers, while Unifor Local 2200 represents 1,100 worekrs in the trades, support, and within SeaBus operations.

CUPE 7000 separately represents the workers under TransLink subsidiary BC Rapid Transit Company, which operates and maintains SkyTrain’s Expo and Millennium lines. The workers of SkyTrain Canada Line, which is privately operated by SNC Lavalin’s Protrans BC division, are separately under BCGEU. Canada Line workers ratified their last contract in early 2021.

In June 2022, Unifor also secured a contract for workers of BC Transit’s Sea to Sky corridor bus services within Squamish, Whistler, and Pemberton, ending a 136-day strike — the longest public transit strike in British Columbia history.

While there is labour stability this time around with Metro Vancouver’s public transit bus services, BC Transit’s bus services in the Fraser Valley have been suspended since March 20, when labour disputes devolved into a strike. Its over 200 workers are represented by CUPE.

BC Transit’s operations in the Sea to Sky corridor and the Fraser Valley are contracted to the third parties of Pacific Western Transit and First Transit, respectively.

In September 2022, a strike of West Vancouver Blue Bus drivers and maintenance workers was averted after a new deal was reached with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU).

In recent days, unions representing public transit workers in Metro Vancouver have also been calling on employers and governments to improve public safety following a number of high-profile violent attacks onboard the transit system.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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