Transit labor updates from Winnipeg Transit, Hamilton Street Railway, PWTransit

Nov. 29, 2023
Labor groups and employees have been negotiating various agreements to address issues such as compensation, worker safety and scheduling.

A series of decisions involving transit workers and their unions will impact service within a trio of Canadian provinces. Winnipeg Transit, Hamilton Street Railway and Pacific Western Transportation (PWTransit) labor groups and employees have been negotiating various agreements to address issues such as compensation, worker safety and scheduling. 

Winnipeg Transit

In Winnipeg, Manitoba, members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1505, which represents Winnipeg Transit workers voted against approving a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) put forth by the city of Winnipeg. 

ATU outlined three areas of concern including worker safety, compensation and what the union described as a lack of improvements made to employee benefits. 
The union says the concern revolves around the prevailing sentiment that the current management is not adequately addressing working conditions and safety of employees. 

"In light of the membership's decision to reject the second Memorandum of Agreement, it is clear that employees are feeling undervalued, the lack of benefit improvements is deemed unsatisfactory, and the membership is simply dissatisfied with the current management inaction to secure a safe workplace,” said Chris Scott, president of ATU Local 1505.

Following rejection of the MOA, the ATU has initiated a series of job actions starting with a ban on voluntary overtime. 

Winnipeg Transit has experienced a decrease is operators post pandemic, which means the use of voluntary overtime has been used to bridge the gap between available operators and service commitments. 

Winnipeg Transit users have been notified that they will likely see an increase in late and cancelled buses with the rejection of voluntary overtime. However, Winnipeg Transit Plus customers will not be affected as service is provided by private contractors.

While this is not a strike, ATU Local 1505 says it may escalate to one if its members’ concerns are not addressed. 

Hamilton Street Railway 

A four-year collective agreement has been approved Hamilton, Ontario’s city council and by ATU Local 107, which represents Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) bus operators, mechanics and other transit workers.

The agreement is effective Jan. 1, 2023, through Dec. 31, 2026, and includes a wage increase for union members of 3.75 percent in the first year and a three percent increase in the second, third and fourth years of the contract. The city explained the agreement will help to address the increased cost of living for employees and ensures the continued delivery of high caliber transit services to the Hamilton community.

“We are so happy to have reached an agreement with our valued transit workers,” said Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath. “We know that life is getting more expensive for everyone, and I’m proud that we were able to reach an agreement that was fair to our employees and the people of Hamilton.”

This agreement falls in line with the wage increases included in the collective agreement recently ratified by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 5167, representing more than 3,200 inside-outside workers.

Pacific Western Transportation

Unifor Local 114, the union representing members of PWTransit in Comox Valley and Campbell River, B.C., voted Nov. 26 to reject the latest contract offer. PWTransit is contracted by BC Transit to operate and maintain transit services in the region.

Unifor Local 114 members have been without a contract since Mar. 31, 2023. The union says issues being discussed include compensation, scheduling and overtime language. 

The union says it is seeking a comparable compensation package to similar-sized transit operations on Vancouver Island and elsewhere in the province. 

About the Author

Eman Abu-Khaled | Associate Editor

Eman Abu-Khaled is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelors in journalism. She works through Endeavor Business Media with Mass Transit as an associate editor. Abu-Khaled brings a fresh perspective to the visual side of journalism with an interest in video and photography work.