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50,000 Transit in Trouble leaflets, radio ads the start of longer range campaign

Unionized transit workers in the Lower Mainland say they are readying a longer range plan to fight the Campbell government’s radical plans to seize control of the Lower Mainland’s system of transit buses, SkyTrain and SeaBus by eliminating the locally-controlled TransLink Board made up of local elected politicians.

To underscore their commitment to a common cause, transit union leaders and B.C. Federation of Labour President, Jim Sinclair, leafleted SkyTrain passengers in Vancouver Wednesday morning.

We’re sounding the alarm that Lower Mainland transit will be in trouble if the Campbell government is allowed to eliminate our current locally-controlled democratic decision-making system,” says Jim Sinclair, President of the B.C. Federation of Labour.

Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon unveiled the Liberal’s sweeping plans in a 78-page piece of legislation, Bill 36, in late April.  It’s expected that the Campbell government will try to steamroll the Bill through the legislature this fall.  Opponents of the controversial Bill, which also includes transit user groups and elected local politicians, say the legislation:

  • amounts to an attack on local democracy;

  • will open the doors to even more privatization; 

  • replaces local elected politicians on the current Translink Board with unelected, unaccountable officials hand-picked by the Campbell government and their business allies; and

  • will do nothing to improve services for transit users.
Steve Sutherland, President of CAW, Local 111, says that since the beginning of June, the labour groups have distributed 50,000 leaflets and run radio ads in the Lower Mainland.

“Having unelected bureaucrats in charge of TransLink won’t put a single extra bus on the street—and we need 400 new buses now,” says Sutherland, whose local represents 2,800 transit operators.  “We need more funding to end overcrowding and pass-ups, not more high-priced administration.”

CUPE BC President, Barry O`Neill, says it`s wrong to give all meaningful control over regional transportation—including taxation, long-term planning and operation of the system—to an unelected, unaccountable board, hand-picked by big business friends of the Liberals.

This is what you get from a government that has an agenda to privatize all public services to secure guaranteed revenue for narrow business interests,” says O`Neill.

COPE 378 President Andy Ross says the unions have been working with municipal governments throughout the GVRD, Fraser Valley, and Squamish-Whistler corridor, and the opposition to Bill 36 is apparent throughout.

Nobody asked for this legislation, nobody asked for these changes, and from what we can see, nobody wants to see this power-grab from Kevin Falcon go through,” says Ross.  “That’s why we’re pushing back.”

In addition to CAW, CUPE and COPE 378, the Federation represents transit and transportation workers in other unions including the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, B.C. and Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades Council, and the Amalgamated Transit Union.

For more information contact:
Jessie Uppal B.C. Federation of Labour, 604-220-0739
Bill Tieleman, CAW, 778-896-0994
Diane Kalen, CUPE BC, 778-229-0258
Mike Bruce, COPE 378, 604-812-9049

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