CUPE 4500 is welcoming the appointment of Mr. Vince Ready as special mediator to help the union and Coast Mountain Bus Company/TransLink reach a settlement. The union, however, says if the special mediator’s recommendations don’t lead to a tentative agreement, transit supervisors will be withdrawing services.

“We are prepared to continue our work with Mr. Ready. If anyone can help us reach a deal, it’s him,” says Liam O’Neill, spokesperson for CUPE 4500, representing over 180 transit supervisors at Coast Mountain. “But for this process to be successful, Coast Mountain and TransLink are going to need to show some willingness to find common ground. Their past conduct in mediation leaves us skeptical.”

CUPE 4500 members have been on strike since January 6, when they began an overtime ban. The union escalated its strike action with a 48-hours withdrawal of services earlier this week. CUPE 4500 will maintain the overtime ban during the special mediator’s process and will not be escalating to any other actions until the recommendations are received on February 2, 2024.

“We’re committed to working with the special mediator. We hope his recommendations might show us a path to a fair collective agreement. If not, CUPE 4500 members will be left with no choice but to take the next step,” says O’Neill. “If we don’t have a tentative agreement by 12:01 a.m. February 3, CUPE 4500 members will be withdrawing services for 72-hours.”

If the labour board permits it, CUPE 4500 intends to expand picketing sites to include other TransLink locations as part of this next strike escalation. This picketing will include SkyTrain stations and other operations.

 “If the option is open to CUPE 4500, we will be picketing SkyTrain operations in addition to Coast Mountain. This will effectively shut down all buses, the SeaBus, and all SkyTrain lines for three days,” says O’Neill. “We are running out of options with Coast Mountain and TransLink. CUPE 4500 members have been more than patient, and the union has done all it can to get the fair deal our members deserve.”