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Potential shutdown of service

Transit Strike Looms for Vancouver

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Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 4500, the union representing more than 180 Coast Mountain Bus Company supervisors in Metro Vancouver, will begin a 48-hour strike action at 3am Monday morning if they can't reach a last minute deal with the company. Other unions, including Unifor 111 and 2200 which represent Metro Vancouver bus drivers and support workers, and CUPE 7000 which represents the workers on SkyTrain, Vancouver's above ground commuter rail service, have said that they won't be crossing the CUPE 4500 picket lines. This would signify a full shutdown of the region's transit system, meaning some half million daily transit users will have to search for other options to get to work and school.

“We regret the disruptions passengers will be experiencing," said CUPE Local 4500 servicing representative Liam O'Neill. "​​​​​Unless Coast Mountain commits to ensure transit supervisors get the same wages as others doing similar work, and take our workload issues seriously, we are left with no choice.”

The transit supervisors have been without a contract since December 31, 2022, and in December 2023, following the breakdown of talks with mediator Vince Ready, members of CUPE 4500 voted 100% in favour of strike action.

The Union has been in mediated negotiations with Coast Mountain Bus Company (a wholly owned subsidiary of TransLink, Vancouver's regional transit authority) over the weekend, but as of 4pm on Sunday, no agreement had been reached.  Meanwhile, CUPE 4500 has applied to the BC Labour Relations Board for expanded job action, which would allow the union to picket SkyTrain operations centres. The application to the LRB explains that "less disruption for public transit riders means less public pressure on the Employer to settle the contract."

During the last major disruption in transit service in Metro Vancouver, in 2001, TransLink, who had just finished a process of splitting their delivery components into different subsidiaries (Coast Mountain Bus Company, BC Rapid Transit Company, HandyDart), were able to keep SkyTrain running when 3500 bus drivers went on strike, mitigating some of the social and economic disruption, and dragging the strike out for 123 days. 

TransLink's complicated subsidiary structure, which results in a patchwork of collective agreements, is one of the roots of the current conflict:

“It is simple – transit workers doing the same job deserve a similar wage," said O'Neill. "This should be a realistic expectation for anyone. A 25 percent across-the-board wage increase has never been proposed by the union. But some of our members are getting paid far less than other TransLink workers doing the same jobs. It’s not fair, and we need to find a solution at the table.”​​​​​​​  

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