West Vancouver Blue Bus workers vote in favour of strike

Workers of the West Vancouver Blue Bus system have made a major move towards potential job action leading to disruptions to some of Metro Vancouver’s public transit services.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 134 announced on Tuesday evening that their members have voted 96% in favour of a strike. This vote comes just ahead of the restart of talks between the union and the employer, the District of West Vancouver, on May 6 for up to three days.

“Our members are fed up with West Vancouver District trying to avoid negotiating a new collective agreement and today’s overwhelming strike vote shows that, as does the very strong turnout of members to vote,” said ATU 134 president Cornel Neagu in a statement.

The union says they are looking to win working conditions and benefits in line with the drivers and mechanics of TransLink subsidiary Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC), which operates all other public transit bus services in Metro Vancouver and the SeaBus ferry system.

On Tuesday, the municipal government also filed a complaint alleging the union is not bargaining in good faith — the second such complaint filed with the BC Labour Relations Board during the bargaining process to date. The union has rejected the accusations.

The union claims the municipal government also previously filed an application to the board to have the Blue Bus declared an essential service to prevent any disruption to services.

“Our union members voted for possible job action because all they are asking for is what all other transit operators and mechanics already have in the rest of Metro Vancouver. West Vancouver is the richest community in the region and paying our members the poorest benefits and working conditions is not acceptable,” continued Neagu.

In September 2022, a full shutdown of the Blue Bus was narrowly averted, when the District of West Vancouver reached an agreement with ATU at the 11th hour. That contract expired at the end of March 2024, and the union has been looking to reach a new deal with the employer since late 2023.

ATU represents 150 workers under Blue Bus, which has a fleet of 64 buses that see about 18,000 boardings per day.

Although it is integrated with TransLink’s fare system, Blue Bus is separately owned and operated by the District of West Vancouver, and it is responsible for most of the bus routes that run between downtown Vancouver and West Vancouver.

In early February 2024, a labour dispute of 180 supervisors under CMBC that threatened to spill over across Metro Vancouver’s public transit system came to an end after weeks of service disruptions and uncertainty. At the time, ATU said it was willing to direct its members to join solidarity picket lines if the CMBC supervisors were in a position to picket outside Blue Bus facilities.

Last year, separate new years-long contracts were reached with the respective unions representing thousands of CMBC bus drivers and mechanics (until March 2026), and SkyTrain Expo/Millennium lines’ attendants and mechanics (until August 2028).

However, SkyTrain Canada Line workers have been without a new contract since the end of 2023. They are represented by BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU), and the employer is SNC Lavalin’s ProTrans BC.