The cost of the new three-year deal with TransLink’s bus company employees, which will add at least $3 an hour to wages for 5,000 workers, won’t derail transit expansion, according to the agency.
“We can’t cost out the deal,” until after negotiations are completed with 900 workers from another union for SkyTrain workers, spokeswoman Jill Drews said Friday.
But she said, “Expansion plans will not be affected. The deal that was negotiated is within our ability to pay. There’s no fear of that (affecting expansion) anymore.”
Workers at TransLink’s Coast Mountain Bus Company voted more than 83 per cent in favour of the deal on Thursday, reached in negotiations between the company and Unifor just before the union planned to begin a full-scale strike.
Unifor had been seeking a 15.2 per cent increase over four years for bus drivers and 16.7 per cent compounded over four years for maintenance workers. Coast Mountain had been offering 12.2 per cent for skilled trades over four years and 9.6 per cent for transit operators over the same period. The company had said Unifor’s would have cost more than $600 million over the 10 years and that kind of deal would jeopardize transit system expansion plans.
“It’s fair to say it’s below that” $600 million,” Drews said., adding the deal is “somewhere in the middle” between the initial demands.
Drews said the cost for the bus company will be made public after negotiations are completed with Canadian Union of Public Employees in a separate set of contract talks for 900 employees, including station attendants and maintenance workers of TransLink’s B.C. Rapid Transit Company.
The strike by the Coast Mountain workers began Nov. 1 with a uniform ban by transit operators and an overtime ban by maintenance workers, which reduced SeaBus sailings.
Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in a news release that the deal with Unifor Locals 111 and 2200 included “historic gains” for wages, benefits and working conditions.
Unifor said the deal reduced the “wage gap with Toronto’s transit operators,” brought the wages for Coast Mountain’s skilled trades workers more in line with the about $3 more an hour paid to SkyTrain’s skilled trades workers, set out “guaranteed minimum rest and recovery allowances of 45 minutes” and better washroom breaks and facilities.
The salary range for drivers before the settlement was $24.46 to $32.61 an hour after 24 months. After four years, with a two per cent raise retroactive to April 1, one per cent on ratification, and three per cent a year thereafter, the range would rise to $27.49 to $35.64 an hour.
Coast Mountain’s skilled-trades workers received a two per cent retroactive pay to April 1 and an additional $1.95 an hour increase, followed by two per cent raises in future years of the contract.