Photo shows a HSR supervisor car on the right, with a HSR 60-foot articulated bus to its left. Both are waiting at an intersection during a red light.
A Hamilton Street Railway supervisor vehicle and articulated bus in Downtown Hamilton in late June 2020 Credit: Joey Coleman / The Public Record

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.

ATU pamphlet being distributed to Hamiltonians asking them to call their councillors to prevent a strike.

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Published: November 5, 2023
Last edited: November 5, 2023
Author: Joey Coleman
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39 replies on “HSR Transit Strike to Begin on Thursday: Union Issues 72 Hours Notice”

  1. This is freaking great the higher ups only thinking about themselves and how to line their pockets .. when the public will suffer cause their means of transportation will be taken away in the next 72 hours .. I am a single parent the only one that works in my household and I work in the customer service industry and I don’t work close to my home .. I rely on transit .. I don’t have extra money for car rentals, cabs, or uber for myself and my school age child .. so please give them wat they want so this strike can be prevented .. they deserve it ..

    1. Melinda I feel for you. My
      Mum is in St. Peter’s hospital and I’m there every day by bus. I can’t afford to cab it

    2. City of Hamilton website and see what they make per hour it is close to 29 an hour and all you need to do is have a special.drivera license that anyone can get they are greedy and should be considered an essential.service like nurses it is not fair that the HSR can hold the city hostage when many may lose their jobs because of the HSR bit hey only care about themselves now that is greed and working in customer service like you say you do it is fair that they make $ 29 an hour and now you will be the one struggling to get to work you just better hope.your employer is sympathetic cause many won’t

      1. Chris I am wondering if you were as vocal when non-union staff and managers received two wage increases this year, some of them as high as 15% total, Those people who on average make in excess of $100,000. a year. And you make it sound like anyone could do it, but the application process and proper licensing are not as easy as you make it sound. If my relatives are riding the HSR I want someone competent driving.

        1. I totally agree with you, maybe the people complaining about what bus drivers, mechanics and other employees behind the scenes are asking for should check out the Hamilton sunshine list and see the amount of money some of the bureacrates make and Google their pay raises.

      2. One think is they take the crap from customers that do not pay. I work in a fast past restaurant and get paid the same amount. Bus drivers deserve more. Good for them fighting for there right even that it will effect us.

      3. How about you advise people to look on the City’s sunshine list and see some of the wadges management makes Google some of the individuals and see what wadge increase they accepted for 1 yr. Nobody is interested in slamming the City’s management for their wage increase because it’s handed to them on a silver plate.

    3. I had to cancel a critical medical appointment THURSDAY thanks to them they make me sick!

  2. City Hall had all the time and money in the world to fiscal help for the proposed HATS project in a Hamilton neighbourhood that it wasn’t wanted but no time or money to keep the vast majority of Hamiltonian homes running smoothly via public transit…lack of transit means personal additional expenditure for commute to and from work, school and the chaos thar will ensue with everyone trying to take cab, lyft, uber during rush hour. That chaos cannot be strategically or tangibly calculated. I doubt Ms Andrea gives a brown rats backside though!

  3. Great just great. Myself and my husband don’t work close to home. We both rely on transit. Give the drivers what they want. It’s bad enough that the city will be in a complete stand still because of this, but why make everyone suffer just because the city council rather be selfish??

  4. I depend on HSR to make my Doctors appointment every Tuesday and live far from where the office is and being on disability it’s a struggle to maintain my rent never mind a $50 a week cab fare to and fro to my Doctors. I just cannot see a way to get what I need to do this and I am positive I am not the only one who going to encounter this strike and try and find a way to get around to “essential” appointments.

  5. i take the bus to work everyday and i dont have a car and have to pay rent give the bus driver want they want so all of the people that takes the bus so they can work and pay the?bill and to other stuff to is not fair to the people and the bus driver hope you here the people that alk

  6. This doesn’t look good for a city that is hosting a Grey Cup. How embarrassing to have visitors to the city and no transit. As well for those fans that take the HSR to the Grey Cup events and game.

    1. Are you actually surprised? This city is a complete —- —- and has been for sometime now. They can’t do anything right.

  7. We can’t afford for this to happen please come up with a solution so that this doesn’t happen.

  8. When a person does a day’s work he/she is taxed. The government makes money. If somone, who takes a bus doesn’t go to work, the government loses money. The people who deserve a raise are those hustling the streets, HSR drivers, not pencil pushers. Politicians ought to get 2.5 % raise, the rest ought to be given to public works.

  9. This is not fair for the people that don’t drive. Their are disabled people out there that don’t take darts because they are not really that bad and they reather take the hsr. People take the hsr buses because don’t drive and they can’t afford to take cabs or ubers and their work place is to far from home. The low income people that are disabled take the hsr buses because they can not afford anything else to take. Darts is a waiting list to use. The kids that have to take the hsr buses to what are they going to do. Just give the hsr what they want they deserve it. Hsr workers put up with alot of stuff every day. The hsr workes can’t stay home and work not like other people. Their are alot of people that take and rely on the hsr buses mostly the low income people that are odsp or cpp disability or on cpp. I don’t know who you guys are think you are being fair too. I think you are being greedy and selfish and just thing about you and filling your pockets with money. Here is an idea think about people that need the hsr and the hsr workes. I rely on the buses as I’m on odsp my child rely on the hsr buses to get to and work we can’t afford to take cabs ubers. I’m disable and I also have a disability issue. The higher ups are at it again thinking about themselves and nobody else again. They only think about money going into their pockets and they don’t care who it hurts in the process. Well they are hurting alot of people and alot of them are kids and low income people.

  10. It is truly unfortunate how the public is inconvenienced on account of greed by management and union workers. No one deserves such high increases. I work for a private sector and even though inflation. Has reacge8f a record high our pay increase is 2 percent or less based on MPA and we work so hard. It’s not fair that our tax dollars should be abused

    1. Eve, I am wondering if you were as vocal when non-union staff and managers received two wage increases this year, some of them as high as 15% total, Those people who on average make in excess of $100,000. a year.

    2. Drivers are taxpayers as well. Striking proves a point, it inconveniences many to prove the work being done is required and should be paid fairly. Private sector non-union employees don’t have the option to strike and fight for what they are worth, they have to accept the smaller increases. Therefore, union and public service workers strike to fight for better pay and working conditions so it will trickle down to the private sector.
      I’m sorry it will inconvenience you, I also take the bus to work but I will support my amazing bus drivers and their colleagues even though I will also be inconvenienced.

  11. Is the HSR going to pay for us that need to pay for alternative ways to work. I live atheist 2 hours from work walking and I have health issues!!

  12. Well this is not happy news for alot of people more for the ones that need the bus that work but also the ones that depend on the bus to go get a hot meal that started this month I know my self for one I’m lucky to eat once a day and not even a meal soup Mr noodles extra so was so looking forward to being able to have a hot meal wow

  13. Why are you doing having seniors
    Pay bus fare
    You always have excuses for low income families as well.
    I’m on ODSP and I don’t have money for presto
    Even any money to pay for the bus ride to and from
    Medical visits and to go see my mom who is in LTC
    Bad enough we have it hard to get around.
    What are you going to do for us.
    You and the 3 tier government are always
    Making like life harder for us.

  14. That’s good they should go on strike it’s ridiculous that the companies are so cheap these days and they pay us very little to nothing well everything just goes up and up and you see these movie stars they get millions in billions for doing absolutely nothing so yeah, go on strike you deserve.

  15. This strike is ridiculous, I rely everyday on the HSR drivers to get me to work and back home and take me anywhere else I need to go when I go grocery shopping etc. I am a low income single person who cannot afford to take ubers or taxi everyday to work and my job is way to far to walk. I know how hard these bus drivers work and the conditions and harassment they go through on a daily basis, they deserve everything they are asking for. They just don’t drive the bus, they also risk their lives everyday to get the community where they need to go. Please lets settle this and give in to what they are asking for and deserve.

  16. I fully believe the HSR should be made an essential service. Many people in this city(including myself) depend on it as their only means of transportation, and this disruption will cause big problems. Not all of us drive or can afford a taxi to get around.

  17. Good for them, what a slap in the face to give management 14% for doing —- all while drivers have to deal with the much heavier burden of being public facing. I hope they get what they deserve. It just sucks for those who rely on transit.

  18. Just lovely. Way to completely screw people over. Can’t strike and at least offer reduced hours of operation. Also non union get 15% increases when union only get 4% and you don’t think the union has something to do with that

  19. I am disabled and I have no idea how I am going to get to my doctor’s appointments and other things that I have to do. I am also not sure what I am going to do about this issue when I have to start paying for my scooter to ride in January. I don’t use Darts because it is too expensive and hard to book. But a cab is going to be my only option now and I don’t have enough money to eat a good meal much less a cab.

  20. Give the hsr drivers what they want and end this strike before it starts.Good for them, what a slap in the face to give management 14% for doing —- all while drivers have to deal with the much heavier burden of being public facing

  21. Will Burlington transit still be available in Hamilton? Or the GO bus transit too in Hamilton?

    1. Hi Sophie.
      Burlington Transit and GO Transit will operate with normal schedules.
      HSR workers can picket at the Hunter Street GO Station, if they do, GO buses will stop on the street instead of in the terminal. Likely on Hunter, GO will announce any detours.

  22. Life is hard enough working a low paying job I have to bus to just to pay rent, bills, and groceries. It is impossible to cab it to and from work being that I only have enough for basic neccessities. This strike would put me out of work, and then homeless.
    They want a raise to match inflation so they can maintain a comfortable lifestyle. I just want to survive!!! Everyone on minimum wage is struggling! I have no sympathy for these drivers. So selfish and horrible. They don’t care if people die … and plenty will.
    It’s no surprise that politicians don’t care about the everyday people. But bus drivers don’t get it? Like they see it every day. How heartless!!!!

  23. Don’t hold your city hostage HSR workers it isn’t right!

    Striking isn’t the answer and it isn’t fair. Your customers depend on your service to get back and forth to make their living. A earning that probably doesn’t come close to your current one.

    Why can’t they cut services, slow services, limit the number of hours or buses. Run only for rush hours.

    There is a solution but striking isn’t fair when it effects the livelihood of so many.

  24. Iam a psw and I do home care and iam losing 30 hrs in 4 days because of this stupid strike they say that the drivers were on the front line when covid hit well so was I working my ass off because no one wanted to work through Covid and they make 30.00 or more an hour so that’s more than I make but it’s not fair that if they get this raise they will be making 80,000 a yr when other people are only making 20,000-to 35,000 do you think that’s fair for going on strike sure I have to pay 118.00 a month for a bus pass I just don’t think they have to hold the city hostage

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