Hamilton Street Railway buses at King and MacNab in late September 2017. Credit: Joey Coleman / The Public Record

HSR workers will vote this weekend on the City’s final offer. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107 executives are recommending members vote against the offer.

In a Wednesday to all HSR employees, Acting City Manager Carlyle Khan writes, “if this offer is rejected, we expect a strike will occur.”

Khan writes, “The city does not want a strike.”

The City’s final offer provides the same salary increases CUPE 5167 accepted in their new contract. 3.75 percent for 2023, and 3 percent in 2024 and 2025.

City Council approved pay increases of up to 14 percent for the City’s managers, directors, and non-unionized staff.

Khan writes, “You’ve probably heard a lot about the non-union increase. The City has a long-standing policy stating that the salaries for non-union positions (e.g. administrative, clerical, managerial) should be at the 50th percentile of comparator municipalities … Hamilton’s non-union wages had fallen below the 50th percentile.”

Khan continued, “HSR Operators have always been paid competitively, above the mid-point, while non-union wages did not land above the midpoint against their comparators.”

Acting City Manager Carlyle Khan’s letter to HSR employees, November 1, 2023.

During a two-and-a-half-hour closed session on Wednesday, Hamilton City Council discussed what action the City Manager’s Office will take if HSR workers reject the final offer.

In September, the City of Hamilton asked Ontario’s Ministry of Labour for a no-board notice. The no-board was issued, giving the City the legal right to lock out workers beginning October 25. This put the union into a legal strike position.

The City has declined to commit to not locking out HSR workers.

It has been 25 years since the last HSR strike began. That strike lasted 12 weeks.

As TPR reported in a February newsletter edition:

Two years later, in 1998, the Region held the line on HSR wages and benefits, offering three percent on wages, and no concessions on other union demands.

A 12-week strike followed. In the end HSR workers gained little, 20 cents per hour.

Former Hamilton Mayor (1976 – 1980) Jack Macdonald summarized the cost to ATU union members in TheSpec on January 27, 1999:

“Drivers have lost 12 weeks pay at about $800 for a 40-hour week. In return for a $9,600 loss over 12 weeks, they gained about a further 20 cents an hour beyond the three-per-cent offer. In about 28 years, they will recover their loss.”

The City has not disclosed how much money it will save in the event of an HSR lock-out or strike.

RELATED Blog Post: Why the HSR employee daytime shuttle is a significant issue that could trigger a strike – the 2000 decision to move HSR operations near the airport has resulted in HSR workers living in Caledonia, making the shuttle important to operators.

TPR will update on the strike vote as soon as the results are known. Sign up for our newsletter to receive updates.

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Published: November 3, 2023
Last edited: November 4, 2023
Author: Joey Coleman
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12 replies on “City Manager Says If HSR Workers Reject Final Offer, “We Expect a Strike Will Occur””

  1. Please do the ante on the HSR as a frequent user i see daily how they are mistreated by the citizens of hamilton .Ive seen people yell at drivers spit at them and use profanity at them. Driving in a bus through this city is a tough job and those drivers do a great job. I wish them all the best and i hope the city helps them achieve a better salary and keep us going to work and home in nice buses and great drivers

  2. Maybe City Coucil should consider into the negotiations how many Tranist Operators are Assaulted each month! The growing homeless population are making things pretty dangerous for an Operator on their own in then night. People don’t understand that Bus Operators are out their on their own with no protections. It’s SCARY

  3. While a strike will be a problem for me as I can’t drive a car, I understand the fight. City hall seems to always get lucrative pay increases year after year and these people are just trying to get their really high living costs covered. Its so expensive to live in Hamilton today. Housing costs have tripled in the last 10 years. I say go get ’em guys. I also would like to thank the operators who take so much abuse everyday. I can’t imagine how hard this job must be, and how thankless it can be. Also thank you for always getting me safely to my destinations in the rain or shine. I appreciate you.

  4. Again another strike and a grey cup in the city it will be hell getting around..also on the news the disabled arnt being treated very well no raise in money for them but up the bus prices and being charged for every ride… also bus services being cut like the number 58 going from Stoney creek local to Eastgate square is it really fair to the seniors who depend on those services

  5. Wishing all the HSR workers my very best. HSR driving are hard workers & they deserve good wages & good benefits they put with alot of crap from some passengers. I’m hopping they get a very fair deal they all deserve! Good Luck!👍

  6. The wages HSR drivers are paid must include bonuses for each time they are rude to passengers or mistreat the disabled. I’ve ridden the HSR regularly for almost 8o years, 50 of them to work and home each day. I ride it at least twice that per day now. I use a cane and some of the drivers (strangely enough it’s the older ones) will NOT voluntarily lower the bus and together with the fact that they can’t seem to get close to the curb, it’s difficult to get on. I should be using a walker, but seeing the nightmares passengers encounter with them, it is too much of a risk.
    Cover their C.O.L. Anymore would be awarding them “mistreatment of passengers” bonuses!!

  7. The city needs to offer these workers what they are worth and this deal is not acceptable.
    Bus driver go out every shift and not only do they have to deal with abusive customers they drive in all kinds of weather and not to mention the other driver’s on the road.
    How about the people behind the scenes who clean the buses and maintain the buses and keep them running. There are trades people who are not being represented fairly.
    Maybe the general public should look at the sunshine list and see what some of city employees make. Management has no problem accepting a 7.9% pay increase per year.
    Good luck to all employees affected!

  8. Hamilton’s website says that Jason Thorne is interim city manager. Your article and several others online name Carlyle Khan as acting city manager. I did a Google search but can’t seem to find any news or announcement about Thorne being replaced by Khan. Do you have any information about this?

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