Council ratifies deal with Hamilton transit union

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Published November 27, 2023 at 8:10 pm

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Hamilton’s city council has voted to ratify the new deal with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 107, weeks after a strike put the brakes on all city busses.

In a special council meeting on Nov. 27, council voted to confirm the new contract. After months of negotiations between the city and the ATU, all 880 transit workers went on strike on Nov. 9. The strike began just days before the Grey Cup championship game in the city between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Montreal Alouettes.

The fundamental issue behind the strike came down to wages. The ATU argued their raise should be more in line with the substantial raise seen by non-union city management. However, the city proposed a smaller, though significant, wage bump more in line with what they had offered other union workers, such as CUPE Local 5167. CUPE represents about 3,200 city employees.

Both parties cited other issues such as the ATU lamenting working conditions and the city stressing that city funds were already stretched thin. Ultimately, the strike came into effect, grinding the Hamilton Street Railway to a halt for five days.

However, just after the Grey Cup arrived in Hamilton aboard HMCS Harry DeWolf, the parties reached a tentative deal on Nov. 16. The city’s buses were therefore back on the road for the Grey Cup. However, the union members had yet to vote to accept the proposal.

They did so on Nov. 23 with an 81 per cent margin. Despite this, the city council also had to vote to accept terms. This occurred, in a unanimous vote, in a special council meeting on Nov. 27. The four-year deal will last from Jan. 1, 2023, to Dec. 31, 2026.

The agreement includes a 3.75 per cent raise for ATU workers in the first year, and a three per cent increase in the second, third and fourth years of the contract. The collectible 12.75 per cent raise, in line with the city’s initial proposal. The ATU had previously held firm at a 21.69 per cent raise over that time.

“The Agreement helps address the increased cost of living for employees, is in line with the City’s other Collective Agreements and ensures the continued delivery of high caliber transit services to our community,” the city wrote.

“We are so happy to have reached an agreement with our valued transit workers. We know that life is getting more expensive for everyone, and I’m proud that we were able to reach an agreement that was fair to our employees and the people of Hamilton,” said Mayor Andrea Horwath.

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