Hamilton seeks to expedite deal with transit union as talks stall

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Published September 20, 2023 at 5:41 pm

The City of Hamilton and the transit union appear to have reached an impasse in negotiations, which could put Hamilton Street Railway workers in a position to strike.

The City of Hamilton said it will seek a formal no-board notice from the Minister of Labour in talks with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU).

“If issued, the notice would trigger a 17-day notice, at which point ATU would be in a strike position and the City in a position to issue a lock-out notice, though neither action is immediately triggered,” the City said in a press release today (Sept. 20).

The City and ATU Local 107 have conducted 23 meetings to try to negotiate a new collective agreement since February.  The two sides met Wednesday (Sept. 20) with a conciliator appointed by the minister of Labour.

“The City has filed for a no-board due to the goals of hastening the process and expediting an agreement,” it said in a statement. “We want to emphasize that the City remains committed to freely negotiating the renewal of a collective agreement and remains hopeful that the parties will reach a mutually agreeable collective agreement that is fair to employees and taxpayers.”

Demanding higher wages in line with inflation, more than 99 per cent of Hamilton Street Railway workers backed a strike mandate in Aug. 25.

Eric Tuck, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107 representing over 850 transit workers in Hamilton, said the main obstacle is wages. He noted that the City has raised wages for 1,100 non-union staff by four per cent (1.5 per cent in January and 2.5 per cent in June), with a market adjustment from one to 11 per cent.

Tuck said the average transit worker earns between $60,000 and $80,000, including overtime, working 50 to 60 hours a week on average.

On Sept. 13, the City reached an agreement with CUPE 5167’s inside and outside workers after a no-board report was issued.

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