Unifor Releases Details of New, Post-Strike, Bus Operators Contract

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TransLink

Job action by TransLink bus drivers, in the form of a full system shutdown, was averted in late November, staving off a disruption that would’ve debilitated Metro Vancouver.

The strike was averted after an agreement was reached, not in the final hour, but 30 minutes after the deadline.

The next day, Jerry Dias, National President of Unifor, the union representing TransLink bus and SeaBus operators, spoke to reporters from a downtown hotel. “This has been one heck of a day”, he said. “But I’m here to announce that we have a tentative agreement with TransLink.”

New TransLink Bus Drivers Agreeement

Late last week, Unifor released some details of the agreement. An extensive list of changes is available, here, but a few highlights:

Wages

Drivers and Non-Trades
  • April 1, 2019 + 2% Retro
  • On Ratification + 1%
  • April 1, 2020 + 3%
  • April 1, 2021 + 3%
Skilled Trades
  • April 1, 2019 + 2% Retro
  • On Ratification + $1.95  Parity with BCRTC skilled trades (SkyTrain)
  • April 1, 2020 + 2% *
  • April 1, 2021 + 2% *

According to an official Unifor statement, these increases translate to “immediate wage gains of 98 cents per hour, a further $1.01 increase on April 1, 2020, and an additional $1.04 on April 1, 2021 for a total of $3.03 over the life of the three-year contract.”

The new agreement lasts 3 years, retroactively beginning on April 1st, 2019 and lasting until March 31st, 2022, which means workers will receive retroactive pay.

Benefits

  • Eyeglass and laser eye surgery coverage will increase from $400 to $500 with routine eye exams paid for and not deducted from this amount.
  • Psychological counselling doubled from $1000 to $2000 annually including with registered clinical counsellors.
  • Increase acupuncturist coverage from $100 to $400.
  • Increase podiatrist coverage from $200 to $400.
  • Double psychologist coverage from $1000 to $2000.
  • Increase speech language pathologist coverage from $100 to $500
  • Increase floor of retiree life insurance from $1000 minimum to $2000 minimum.
  • In addition to the one free transit pass granted to each employee, now up to two free transit passes will be issued to a spouse and/or eligible child.

Working Conditions

Recovery Time

  • Effective on the April sheet in 2020, at the end of each trip, a minimum of five minutes of recovery will be allocated, subject to space/vehicle limitations and other site specific considerations.
  • Recognition that recovery time includes rest time, that each run must have scheduled recovery time, and that recovery time in a run should be distributed evenly, considering rush hour peaks.
  • Notwithstanding scheduled recovery, Operators will be entitled to a minimum amount of actual recovery of 30 minutes per shift as of the June sheet in 2020 and to 45 minutes of actual recovery effective on the January sheet in 2021.
  • As of the January sheet in 2021, operators not receiving the 45 minute minimum recovery time on a shift may file an overtime claim to be paid at 200% of the hourly rate for all missed minutes up to the guarantee and claims will be automatically paid after referencing the data.

Washrooms

  • New language to explicitly allow for washroom breaks whenever needed, regardless of schedule. Whenever an Operator needs to take a washroom break outside of scheduled recovery, they should do so regardless of schedule and send a canned message to TComm and this will not result in a call-in or reprimand.
  • One stop for an unscheduled washroom breaks of up to 10 minutes will not be considered part of recovery time or deducted from payment of the penalty premium.
  • New language requiring the Company to act on a priority basis to deal with any permit or issues impacting the availability of facilities due to any municipal restriction. A working group will be formed in each depot to meet monthly and review all the washrooms associated with the depot.
  • Within 90 days of ratification, the parties will identify and prioritize areas for improvement, including increasing the number of washrooms, how often they are cleaned, whether porta-potties are required with a Company commitment that the necessary resources will be allocated to this issue.

TransLink was ridiculed last month after a photo of a microwave in a TransLink staff-washroom (or a toilet in the kitchen, depending on how you look at it) went viral.

TransLink Bus Drivers Washroom

Photo: @JustAnotherMark604 / Reddit

The union will continue to seek improvements to address key issues when the contract ends is a little over two years.

In the meantime, however, the union representing SkyTrain operators issued a 72-hour job action notice this past weekend. A system shutdown is expected to begin on Tuesday, December 10th.

For more Metro Vancouver news, stay tuned to 604 Now News.

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