Unifor says they will return to the bargaining table with CMBC

Nov 25 2019, 1:01 pm

After continued pleas from the public transit authority, including a request from TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond during a press conference this morning, Unifor says it has agreed to return to the bargaining table with the employer.

The union for bus and SeaBus workers will reconvene for negotiations Tuesday afternoon with the presence of Unifor’s National President Jerry Dias.

“We are making an announcement today that we have confirmed that we are going back to the bargaining table tomorrow afternoon with Coast Mountain Bus Company and TransLink,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s Western Regional Director, in a press conference shortly after TransLink’s.

“[Jerry] is determined that we will reach a fair deal, or else we will take strike action on Wednesday and we will take the rally in front of TransLink [headquarters]… We are going back to the table, hoping for a fair deal, but preparing for the worst.”

This will provide both sides with one last opportunity to avoid the union’s disruptive complete three-day shutdown of Coast Mountain Bus Company’s (CMBC) bus and SeaBus services from Wednesday, November 27 to Friday, November 29.

As of the end of last week, TransLink subsidiary Coast Mountain Bus Company says it has asked Unifor to agree to an independent mediation process, but the union has not obliged.

“I continue to believe that the deal can get done at the bargaining table. Whether it is just bilateral between CMBC or with the help of an impartial third-party mediator, let’s get back to the table,” said Desmond this morning, emphasizing there is a need to balance between service expansion to meet “insatiable” ridership demand and the needs of CMBC workers.

Meeting the union’s full demands could result in a combination of cutbacks to planned service expansions and hikes in fares and taxes.

“I believe we need to bargain and not be issuing ultimatums. A settlement is there to be had by both parties working in good faith to avoid major disruptions in people’s lives. Both parties can work out their differences,” added Desmond.

Members of CUPE 7000, the union representing SkyTrain Expo Line and Millennium Line workers, also voted for a strike mandate last week. For the time being, there are no service disruptions to the Expo and Millennium lines, with both TransLink subsidiary BC Rapid Transit Company and CUPE 7000 resuming bargaining talks this past weekend.