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.”
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.
Production Details v. 1.1.0 Published: November 3, 2023 Last edited: November 4, 2023 Author: Joey Coleman Edit Record v. 1.0.0 original version v. 1.1.0 correction to grammar and newsletter blockquote.