Hamilton transit workers to strike Thursday as they reject City’s offer
Published November 6, 2023 at 1:30 am
Hamilton transit workers will strike Nov. 9, halting regular bus service for an indefinite period, as their union voted to reject the City’s latest offer during a meeting Sunday.
The union recently said the offer was “insulting” and “doesn’t keep pace with inflation.”
Hamilton Street Railway service and myRide on-demand service will be suspended at the start of the service day on Thursday, Nov. 9. However, accessible transportation services offered by the contractor DARTS won’t be affected. The City noted that Accessible Transportation Services’ customer service may be delayed in responding to inquiries so it recommends customers email [email protected] for urgent matters.
“We are unable to predict how long the strike will last. The City remains hopeful that a settlement can be reached shortly and remains willing to meet to continue negotiations,” the City said on its website, announcing the news shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5.
The City said it will provide updates on the situation on its website.
Wages and benefits remain obstacles to an agreement with the union. Both parties have been at the bargaining table since February.
“The City’s final offer to the ATU Local 107 is a fair and reasonable offer and offers the same annual increases that were just ratified by CUPE Local 5167, the City’s largest union,” the City said on its website. “The offer included enhancements to benefits such as increased eye care allowance and increased access to mental health services.”
As well, the City proposed wage increases of 3.75 per cent in the first year, and three per cent for each of the remaining three years until 2026.
If the final offer was approved, a transit bus operator would earn $72,966 base wage in 2023, the City explained. By the end of the four-year agreement, it would rise to $79,726 in 2026. The City said the base wages don’t include wage guarantees, shift premiums or any overtime.
Union unhappy with final offer, wants four-per-cent wage increase
However, Eric Tuck, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107, said the final offer was “insulting.”
Tuck told inthehammer.com on Oct. 26 that the union’s request of a four-per-cent wage increase is in line with what the City gave non-union staff.
He said 1,100 non-union staff, such as managers and project managers, earn $120,000 to $160,000 a year and recently received a four-per-cent base wage hike along with a market adjustment of up to an extra 11 per cent.
Many of the bureaucrats are working a hybrid model of three days from home, he pointed out. “That’s a huge benefit my members don’t enjoy,” he said, noting transit workers provided vital services to keep the economy and essential industries running during the pandemic.
With transit services set to be suspended Nov. 9, the City recommends that HSR customers carpool with neighbours or co-workers. Hamilton has a free carpool matching system at www.smartcommutehamilton.ca. Other options are to walk, cycle, take a taxi or work from home if possible, the City said. There are also bikeshare and e-scooter programs.
ATU Local 107’s collective agreement expired at the end of 2022. With more more than 800 HSR workers as members, the union is the City’s second largest bargaining union. It represents transit workers, from licensed technicians to transit bus operators.inthehammer's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising