Nearly 5,000 bus drivers and service technicians for the Coast Mountain Bus company have voted to ratify a three-year collective agreement after nearly a month of strike activity left Metro Vancouver transit riders on tenterhooks.
The deal will give bus drivers and non-trades workers a 2% wage increase retroactive to April 1, a 1% bump today, Dec. 6, and a further 3% increase in each of the next two years. For conventional transit operators, that means a $3.03 an hour wage increase phased in over the new three-year contract.
In response to a major sticking point during negotiations, the contract provides bus drivers 45 minutes of guaranteed break time to help them stay fresh behind the wheel and language to improve access to washrooms.
Skilled workers will also see their wages bumped up 2% retroactively, with an additional $1.95 per hour increase Dec. 6, a raise that puts their wages on par with SkyTrain skilled-trade technicians.
“Metro Vancouver transit workers will see significant improvements to wages, benefits, and working conditions as a result of this new agreement,” said Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, the union that represents the transit workers.
In another emailed statement, president of the Coast Mountain Bus Company Michael McDaniel noted, “Today’s vote ends a challenging period for the company, our employees, and customers. We’ve always been focused on providing quality transit services and delivering an unprecedented service expansion plan for this region. That important work will continue for the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on our system each and every day.”