Hamilton’s public transit workers have rejected the City’s “final offer” and will begin strike action on Thursday morning.
“The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 107 is hereby informing all Hamiltonians that their members have rejected the last offer from their employer, Hamilton Street Railway (HSR). As a result, there will be a legal strike of the HSR transit system effective November 9th from 12:01 am,” says ATU 107 President Eric Tuck.
94 percent of the union’s membership voted for strike action over two days of voting this weekend.
[Amalgamated Transit Union International VP Ken Wilson posted photos of the line-up Sunday morning on X (formerly Twitter)]
The union seeks wage increases that respond to cost-of-living inflation, working condition improvements, and firm contract language stating HSR workers will operate the planned B-Line LRT.
The City’s final wage offer is 3.75 percent for 2023, and 3 percent in 2024, 2025, and 2026.
This is the same amount the City’s largest union, CUPE 5167, accepted in their new contract in August.
Tuck says the offer is insufficient, noting the City’s management staff were given up to a 14 percent single-year wage increase.
“We refuse to be left behind while bureaucrats benefit with record raises and the ability to work from home 2-3 days a week. Our transit workers were on the frontlines during the pandemic, and we don’t have the luxury of working from home,” said Tuck.
HSR workers seek 7 percent in 2023, and 4 percent each year in 2024, 2025, and 2026.
“The frustration of workers comes from double-digit increases of up to 15% going to highly paid Non-Union staff while offering transit workers a 3.2% increase that does not address the shortfalls to transit operators, administrative and skilled trades maintenance staff,” Tuck says.
The union is seeking increased safety and access to clean washrooms.
“Our working conditions are far different than those working from an office setting or from home. We have no security or safety from assaults. We don’t work 9 to 5 with standard 8 hour shifts starting and finishing in the same location, and we don’t have ready access to restrooms along transit routes.”
The City began the countdown towards a strike in September when it applied to the Ministry of Labour for a no-board notice. The notice was granted, with the City legally able to lock out workers and the union in a legal strike position on October 25.
City Council met in closed session on Wednesday to discuss the pending HSR labour disruption.
This will be the first HSR strike since November 1998, when HSR workers were out on the picket lines for 12 weeks.
There are budgetary savings for the City of Hamilton during a strike. The City has not publicly disclosed this figure.
School Boards Prepare Alternative Transportation Plans
Hamilton’s school boards state they have “begun to prepare a plan to transport those students who have an HWDSB or HWCDSB issued HSR Semester Pass” and “will require four days to implement the alternative transportation for the affected students.”
Updates on school transportation will be provided by Hamilton Wentworth Student Transportation Services.
DARTS will Continue Operating
Hamilton’s paratransit DARTS service will continue to operate.
DARTS workers are represented by CUPE 5167.
DARTS users may experience challenges booking trips due to increased demand for rides with the service.
Union Message to HSR Riders
HSR operators are handing out pamphlets encouraging Hamiltonians to contact their councillors to tell them to “demand further talks and allocate the resources necessary to reach a fair deal and keep service going.”
The union is expected to hold a rally on Thursday.
Service Will Operate Until 2:30 a.m. on Thursday
HSR buses will operate until the end of Wednesday’s service, meaning the final buses at 1:20 a.m. will operate as scheduled on Thursday.
Production Details v. 1.1.0 Published: November 5, 2023 Last edited: November 5, 2023 Author: Joey Coleman Edit Record v. 1.0.0 original version v. 1.1.0 grammatical improvements and typos