West Vancouver Blue Bus workers ratify agreement, avoid strike

The union representing Blue Bus workers in West Vancouver, B.C., says its members have voted to ratify a two-year collective agreement, averting a transit strike in the Metro Vancouver suburb.

More than 150 workers belonging to Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 134 voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action last week if they did not reach an agreement with the District of West Vancouver.

On Monday, the union announced on Twitter that it had reached a tentative agreement with the district. It was ratified by 88 per cent of members on Wednesday, the union said.

Cornel Neagu, the president of ATU Local 134, told CBC News on Monday that the main sticking points for workers were working conditions and parity with transit workers in the rest of Metro Vancouver, who are employed by Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC).

A group of people at a table with a yellow banner on it raise their hands in celebration.
Negotiators from ATU Local 134 are seen celebrating after the union negotiated a tentative agreement with the District of West Vancouver earlier this week. (ATU Local 134/Twitter)

“We are pleased with the final result of this tentative agreement,” he said prior to the vote. “We made concessions as the union, our employer made concessions as well.

“At the end of the day, we had in mind to reach an agreement and avoid any kind of job action.”

Neagu says his union’s workers are responsible for 10 bus routes and carry around 18,000 passengers per day.

Mandatory 5-minute breaks

The union president says the new agreement includes mandatory five-minute breaks at the end of every bus trip effective December 2024 — adding that West Vancouver drivers were operating without recovery time until now.

“Our main complaint from the bus operators was that they had absolutely no time to go and use the washroom at the end of each trip,” he said. “We kind of adopted the same language as Coast Mountain bus operators where five minutes guaranteed recovery time will be provided to our members.”

Neagu says another major issue was long-term disability payouts, which were fully covered by the union and its members.

“Some of our members are paying over $200 per month for those premiums, which is ridiculously high,” he said.

While that language has not been changed in the new agreement, Neagu says that the union will meet with the employer to find a solution to change the design of the long-term disability plan.

“Thank you very much to everyone who shows support through social media, and even through direct contact to my members,” Neagu said. “We are pleased that we’ve been able to avoid any kind of job action.

“We just look forward to, you know, carry on and provide the same good service to our riders.”

CBC News has reached out to the District of West Vancouver for comment. 


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