GRT to test driver shields on new buses

GRT to test driver shields on new buses

Waterloo Region Record
By Anam Latif
April 7, 2017

WATERLOO REGION — Driver shields will appear on a few new Grand River Transit buses next year as part of a pilot project.

The move comes after the transit service’s union asked for better protection on the job. Earlier this week, Unifor 4304, the union representing 644 Grand River Transit workers, ratified a new contract with the Region of Waterloo.

A test run of driver shields on new buses was one of the union’s requests.

“The members really wanted this,” said Rick Lonergan, union president.

“The drivers feel vulnerable because they are on the front lines.”

The region ordered 20 new buses expected to arrive in the fall. Eight of those buses will be retrofitted with the clear, plastic shields as part of the pilot project. Those are expected to hit the roads in January 2018.

Lonergan said there are four types of shields available and the region plans to test them all to see which ones work best for Grand River Transit.

“It will address some safety issues,” said Eric Gillespie, director of transit services for the Region of Waterloo.

He said the initiative did come about through contract negotiations, but it was also an issue that had been raised at Grand River Transit’s employee health and safety committee.

The region plans to test the shields for three to four months and plan to gather feedback from drivers and riders during that time frame.

“The drivers just want to get home safe,” Lonergan said.

The recent stabbing death of a bus driver in Winnipeg also has local drivers on edge.

Bus drivers can often feel unsafe, especially when faced with behaviour like verbal abuse and spitting. Lonergan said both are common on Grand River Transit buses.

Physical altercations are rare, but they have happened, he added.

“Fortunately we live in a community where it’s mostly safe, but you never know who is getting on the bus and what they might be concealing,” he said.

That’s why he’s glad to see the region commit to testing out driver shields.

“It’s a positive approach.”

A handful of Ontario cities have driver shields on buses including Brampton and Toronto.

Lonergan said in Toronto, drivers have the option to fold away the shields if they don’t want to use them. Some models can also be folded in half.

The union’s new three-year collective agreement includes improved safety and discipline procedures and recognized maintenance protocols. It also includes wage increases of 1.5, 1.75 and 2 per cent over three years.

Source: GRT to test driver shields on new buses

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GRT bus drivers to get shields under new pilot project

GRT bus drivers to get shields under new pilot project

Operators ‘led to believe that being verbally assaulted or spit on is part of the job’

CBC News
April 5, 2017

Some Grand River Transit bus drivers will work behind shields starting early next year as part of a new pilot project.

The shields were part of the contract negotiations between Unifor, the union which represents bus operators and maintenance staff, and the Region of Waterloo.

Local 4304 president Rick Lonergan said safety is a top concern for bus operators.

“The members really wanted this,” Lonergan told CBC News.

“We feel it’s better to be proactive and not to be reactive of that event. Fortunately, we live in a mostly safe, secure community,” he said.

Lonergan said drivers are concerned after a rise in physical abuse in other cities, including a Winnipeg bus driver who was stabbed to death in February.

Operators ‘very excited’

Physical assaults on GRT buses are rare, Lonergan said, but there are other confrontations.

“I think that they’ve been led to believe that being verbally assaulted or spit on is part of the job,” Lonergan said, adding he hears about those kinds of attacks more and more.

“I hear about them, other people hear about them,” he said, adding some drivers have raised concerns because they don’t know if a passenger is carrying a concealed weapon such as a knife.

“The biggest part of this bargaining, I believe, had to do with health and safety and when [the bus operators] saw they were going to get some help, perhaps with protection from shields, they got very excited about that.”

Eight buses will get four different types of shields for the pilot project. The shields will be installed on new buses, which are expected to arrive in the region in November and to go into service in January.

The region and Unifor ratified a new contract on Monday. The new contract also gives employees a 5.25 per cent raise over three years and improved working conditions.

Source: GRT bus drivers to get shields under new pilot project

 

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No strike at GRT, workers ratify new contract

No strike at GRT, workers ratify new contract

570 News
By Leah Johansen
April 3, 2017

Over 600 transit workers with Grand River Transit have ratified a new contract averting a strike.

In a statement, Unifor Local 4304 President Rick Lonergan says “with this deal, Unifor helped to ensure that safer buses are on the streets for both the drivers and the public.”

One of the main issues highlighted by GRT workers was workplace health and safety.

The new collective agreement improves safety procedures, recognized maintenance protocols, and a trial process for driver shields on new buses.

It also ensures wage increases of 1.5, 1.75 and 2 per cent over the next three-years.

Source: No strike at GRT, workers ratify new contract

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Grand River Transit contract ratified, ensuring safer buses on the streets

Grand River Transit contract ratified, ensuring safer buses on the streets

Unifor Canada
April 3, 2017

KITCHENER, – Members of Unifor Local 4304, more than 600 transit workers with Grand River Transit, ratified a new contract today, averting a strike in Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge later this week.

“The bargaining committee worked day and night through the weekend to bring the membership a new contract that addressed their major concerns,” said Jenny Ahn, Assistant to National President Jerry Dias.

Unifor Local 4304 President Rick Lonergan said the deal is good for both the public and the workers at Grand River Transit.

“With this deal, Unifor helped to ensure that safer buses are on the streets for both the drivers and the public,” Lonergan said.

The new collective agreement with Grand River Transit establishes improved safety procedures, recognized maintenance protocols, a trial process for driver shields on new buses, and other improvements. It also contains improved discipline procedures to ensure greater fairness for workers and wage increases of 1.5, 1.75 and 2 per cent over a three-year contract.

“The drivers have done their part to address the financial challenges facing the region,” Ahn said. “Now the real work begins for the employer to resolve the serious cost issues it faces elsewhere.”

An initial strike deadline set for 5a.m. today was moved to 5a.m. Wednesday, April 5 after a tentative deal was reached Sunday afternoon. Talks with the Region began in December 2016. Unifor Local 4304 represents transit operators, service attendants and skilled trades workers at Grand River Transit.

“Safety and fairness were our primary concerns going into these talks, and the union is pleased with the progress made to achieve those goals,” said Unifor National Representative Tim Mitchell.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.

Source: Grand River Transit contract ratified, ensuring safer buses on the streets

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Ratification Meeting/Vote for NEW Tentative Agreement

Ratification Meeting/Vote for NEW Tentative Agreement

A reminder to all Unifor Local 4304 Members,

As announced yesterday (Sunday), the ratification meetings/voting times for the NEW Tentative Agreement will be held today (Monday) at the Unifor Union Hall at 600 Wabanaki Drive in Kitchener. Please make every effort to attend at least one of the voting times if possible to hear the details of the proposed agreement, listen to questions and comments about the proposed agreement and cast your vote.

Voting times are at: 8:30AM, 11:00AM, 5:30PM and 7:30PM.

Reminder, all GRT services are continuing to operate normally today and strike action has been delayed until Wednesday morning should the new agreement not be accepted. Spring Sign-Up for Conventional Operators will proceed today as planned but Sign-Up for MobilityPLUS is delayed until Wednesday providing that the new agreement is ratified by the Membership.

Posted in: GRT Negotiations 2017

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Waterloo Region and Grand River Transit reach tentative agreement Sunday

Waterloo Region and Grand River Transit reach tentative agreement Sunday

Workplace health and safety was among the main points of discussion in the negotiations

CBC News
April 2, 2017

Bus service in Waterloo region will continue Monday as the Unifor Local 4304, which represents 644 Grand River Transit workers, has reached a tentative agreement with the Region.

Unifor announced on Thursday that workers were going on strike as of 5:00 a.m. Monday, April 3 if a deal had not been reached, after the union rejected a tentative agreement with the Region last week.

However, after negotiations resumed over the weekend, an agreement was met between both parties, avoiding a possible strike and disruption to public transit.

“After intense negotiations this weekend, the union is pleased to have reached a mutual agreement with the employer to address Unifor’s main concerns, and will keep our drivers on the road serving the people of Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge,” Tim Mitchell, Unifor national representative, said in a statement Sunday.

Workplace health and safety, along with other workplace issues, were the main points of discussion in the negotiations, which started in December 2016.

According to the statement released by Unifor, ratification votes will be held Monday and a new strike deadline has been set for 5:00 a.m. Wednesday, April 5 in the event the union does not ratify the agreement.

Source: Waterloo Region and Grand River Transit reach tentative agreement Sunday

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GRT buses running Monday, new tentative deal reached

GRT buses running Monday, new tentative deal reached

570 News
By Leah Johansen
April 2, 2017

A new tentative agreement has been reached between the Region of Waterloo and the union representing Grand River Transit workers.

As a result, local bus service will run as usual on Monday.

A tentative agreement was reached almost two weeks ago, but Unifor Local 4304 did not ratify the terms of a new contract.

In a released posted on Sunday by the union, Unifor National Representative Tim Mitchell says “after intense negotiations this weekend, the union is pleased to have reached a mutual agreement with the employer to address Unifor’s main concerns, and will keep our drivers on the road serving the people of Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge.”

One of the issues highlighted by GRT workers is workplace health and safety.

The union represents over 660 employees at Grand River Transit and Great Canadian Holidays & Coaches.

Details of the new contract will not be released unit a deal has been ratified.

If the new deal is not ratified at the vote on Monday, a new strike deadline has been set for Wednesday, April 5th at 5 a.m.

Source: GRT buses running Monday, new tentative deal reached

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New Tentative Agreement Reached

New Tentative Agreement Reached

Grand River Transit strike averted

WATERLOO, April 2 – Workers, represented by Unifor Local 4304, at the Grand River Transit Authority reached a tentative agreement, averting a strike set to begin in Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge on Monday morning.

“After intense negotiations this weekend, the union is pleased to have reached a mutual agreement with the employer to address Unifor’s main concerns, and will keep our drivers on the road serving the people of Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge,” said Tim Mitchell, Unifor National Representative.

A strike deadline for April 3 was announced last Thursday, in an effort to give the public ample notice and an opportunity to make alternative arrangements for travel. Transit services will continue, pending ratification votes to be held Monday. A new strike deadline has been set for 5am Wednesday, April 5.

Talks resumed over the weekend, leading to today’s deal. Details of the new contract will be released once a deal has been ratified.
Workplace health and safety and other workplace issues were the main topics in the negotiations, which started back in December. Local 4304 represents more than 600 transit operators, service attendants, and skilled trades workers employed at Grand River Transit.

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