March 31, 2017
No regional buses will be running in Waterloo Region beginning at 5 a.m. Monday.
Grand River Transit operators, dispatchers, fleet mechanics and service attendants will officially be on strike then, as their union, Unifor Local 4304 did not ratify the terms of a new contract with the Region of Waterloo.
The two sides had negotiated an agreement, earlier in March, which the region said it thought was fair to employees and taxpayers. It included a wage increase of six per cent over three years, as well as a number of adjustments to employee benefits.
The Unifor bargaining committee unanimously recommended their members accept, but they did not.
“When workers vote to strike over working conditions, you know that the situation is toxic,” said Tim Mitchell, Unifor National Representative in a statement. “It’s a very serious issue that can’t be resolved until GRT takes our members’ concerns seriously.”
Services affected include GRT buses, BusPlus Service and MobilityPlus Services.
The region said every effort will be made to provide transportation only for pre-scheduled dialysis trips. All other scheduled trips — even medical — will be cancelled. The Taxiscrip program and Kiwanis Transit are both unaffected.
The transit terminals on Charles and Ainslie streets will be closed. Greyhound will maintain regular pick and drop off service, but at the corner of Queen and Weber streets. Go bus and Coach Canada in Cambridge will pick passengers up at the GRT stop on Ainslie and Dickson Streets. Bus operators will be selling fares on their buses.
GRT tickets have no expiry dates and can be used when service resumes. Depending on the length of the service disruption, GRT will make special announcements regarding GRT passes.
March 31, 2017
The union representing bus drivers and other employees of Grand River Transit is planning to strike Monday morning.
The region and Unifor Local 4304 had previously reached a deal, but union members voted down that tentative agreement last weekend.
A modified deal was rejected on Thursday, according to the union, paving the way for strike action.
According to a press release issued Thursday night by the region, the union is planning to strike at 5 a.m. on Monday, April 3.
A union spokesperson said earlier in the week that the first tentative deal was voted down due to “non-economic issues” affected skilled trades workers.
Regional officials say the deal voted on Thursday included wage increases adding up to six per cent over three years, as well as “adjustments” to employee benefits.
They say they are willing to meet with the union before Monday morning to see if an agreement can be reached.
Unifor also represents employees of CTV Kitchener.
Waterloo Region Record
By Record Staff
March 31, 2017
WATERLOO REGION — Grand River Transit buses and MobilityPlus vehicles are expected to stop running at 5 a.m. Monday, the Region of Waterloo said in a statement Thursday evening.
Unifor Local 4304, which includes 644 bus drivers, service attendants and skilled workers such as mechanics, rejected an agreement with the Region on Thursday — even though the union’s negotiating team had unanimously endorsed the deal.
It was the second time this week that negotiating teams for both Unifor and the Region of Waterloo had agreed on a package, only to have it rejected by the union membership.
“We’re surprised and disappointed,” said Mike Murray, chief administrative officer at the region.
The union leadership could not be reached.
Services that would be affected by the labour disruption include Grand River Transit and BusPlus Service, MobilityPlus, and bus terminals.
The Charles and Ainslie street terminals in Kitchener and Cambridge would be closed, but Greyhound would still operate. Passengers would be picked up at Queen and Weber streets, the Region said in a statement.
GO bus and Coach Canada service in Cambridge will pick up at the GRT stop on Ainslie and Dickson streets. Bus operators will be selling fares on their buses.
In the event of a strike, every effort will be made to continue transportation for MobilityPlus customers for scheduled dialysis. But other trips for work, medical and recreation will be cancelled. Specialized trips provided by Kiwanis Transit are not affected.
For updates, call the Grand River Transit information line at 519-585-7555. Updates will also be posted on the website at www.grt.ca.
UPDATE: After completion of the second SKILLED TRADES ratification vote the results are as follows:
Total combined Skilled Trades and non Skilled Trades votes -358
55% against ratification 45% for ratification
Therefore, we will be contacting the Employer & the public to inform them Monday April 3, 2017 5am picket lines will be up. You will be contacted by your strike captains. If you are scheduled to work anytime before then, GO TO WORK! You may encounter some negativity from management and the public, DO NOT ENGAGE! Thank you for your support!
UPDATE: Thurs March 30 SKILLED TRADES will be voting on the Skilled Trades issues that were discussed with the Employer. Their votes will then be added to the previous general vote.
March 28, 2017
After reaching a last minute settlement to avert any transit disruptions, Grand River Transit employees rejected a tentative deal with the Region of Waterloo on Monday.
Both sides were back at the table on Tuesday, and there was no threat of any work stoppage that would keep buses off the road during ongoing negotiation.
Unifor, Local 4304 members, representing workers employed by Grand River Transit and MobilityPLUS have not ratified the tentative settlement reached by the parties in negotiation, but wouldn’t say what issues are outstanding.
Wages and work conditions were part of the impediments to the original deal that had to be ratified by both parties.
The region said it was informed by Unifor Local 4304 that the bargaining unit did not ratify the proposed collective agreement.
In a statement is said its goal continues to be to negotiate a new collective agreement with Unifor 4304.
In the meantime, a tentative agreement has been reached between the region and Ontario Nurses Association, who represent the region’s public health nurse.
Ratification dates have yet to be set.
Waterloo Region Record
By Record Staff
March 27, 2017
WATERLOO REGION — Transit services will continue after Grand River Transit unionized workers failed to vote in favour of a tentative agreement, the union says.
A vote held Monday night yielded a split result, with one of the two groups of employees in the local rejecting the tentative deal.
Unifor Local 4304 represents 644 drivers, service attendants and skilled workers at Grand River Transit.
A tentative agreement was reached March 20, just hours after a strike deadline, and 343 union members voted on the deal Monday, said Tim Mitchell, a national representative with Unifor, the union that represents Grand River Transit workers.
The skilled trades workers rejected the deal, triggering a process to re-examine the contract as it applies to those workers, he said.
Talks will continue to address the unresolved issues that affect those workers, both the union and the region said.
“We’re going to try and do everything we can to resolve this without a labour dispute,” Mitchell said. “I’m always optimistic that we’ll be able to reach a solution, but they’re unionized workers and at the end of the day they have the right to the final decision via a secret vote.”
The Region of Waterloo said it was prepared to return to the bargaining table to hear which issues are still unresolved, said Mike Murray, chief administrator at the region.
“I think the appropriate place to discuss these issues is at the bargaining table,” Murray said, adding that he expects the region and the union to sit down to talk later this week.
“We’ll look forward to hearing from them, and in the meantime transit service continues. Our goal has been and continues to be to negotiate a new collective agreement that is fair to our employees and fair to taxpayers.”
If a new tentative agreement cannot be reached, Unifor says it will give the public 48 hours’ notice before any job action, including a strike.
Workers have been without a contract since Jan. 1.
By Christine Clark and 570 News Staff
March 27, 2017
It’s back to the bargaining table for the union representing Grand River Transit workers and the Region of Waterloo.
Seven days ago, a tentative agreement was reached, however, a subset of skilled trades workers voted against ratifying that deal.
Unifor National Representative, Tim Mitchell says, “There are aspects of the agreement that were rejected and remain unresolved.”
Buses will continue to run as the union hopes to resume talks this week to avoid job action.
If an agreement can’t be reached, Unifor Local 4304 has to give two days notice before any strike can take place.
In a news release, the region says the goal is to negotiate a new collective agreement and there will be no disruption to service at this time.