The union representing 4,700 transit operators, trades people, SeaBus and support workers will hold a strike vote April 28th.
It’s the latest twist in a bitter contract dispute between Unifor locals 111 and 2200 and the Coast Mountain Bus Company, a subsidiary of TransLink.
Unifor Local 111 president Nathan Woods says contract talks broke down with Coast Mountain Bus Company.
“The employer’s not come back to the table, they’ve not knocked on our door. At this point right now we feel that if we want to try to get any movement and get back to the table with a concession-free collective agreement with the gains that our members see as a fair contract, we are going to have to take the strike vote and show the employer that we do have solidarity in our membership and we don’t expect to be optimized.”
He says a strike would be debilitating to the Metro Vancouver transit system, with 1.1 million riders every day.
“The impact of that is that every commuter getting to a SkyTrain station would be impacted by that, and that is not what we want to do. Let’s be clear about that. What we want is to negotiate a fair collective agreement.”
The move comes as little surprise after a leaked memo last week revealed the two sides were ‘far apart.’
The union says it is upset over concessions demanded by CMBC in bargaining that began in February.
It says the key issues are wages and working conditions.
Coast Mountain says it has been “working hard” to renew the collective agreement, but that it will be keeping negotiations private.
“We remain committed to an acceptable negotiated settlement and as such, to protect the integrity of the process, we will not be negotiating through media.”
The last time Metro Vancouver transit workers went on strike was 2001, when a four-month disruption caused commuter chaos in the summer.
That dispute eventually ended after the province passed legislation imposing a collective agreement.
With files from Shelby Thom