CUPE 561 bus drivers are back in uniform this week after ratifying a new collective agreement with First Canada ULC on Sunday night. The Local’s 160 members, based in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, had initiated job action with a uniform ban on October 10.

The new three-year contract, retroactive to April 1, 2017, includes annual wage increases of 2, 2, and 2.5 per cent, retroactive wage reimbursements, and new language on run committees that will give members more input into the construction of their shifts while providing better work/life balance. It also includes language giving senior part-time employees access to sick leave, health and welfare benefits, the RRSP purchase plan, and full day of pay on statutory holidays.

“This agreement represents a solid path forward and gives these members some real gains to build on in successive rounds of bargaining,” said CUPE 561 President Dave Ginter.

“In collective bargaining, we don’t often see language on work-life balance. For the first time, these members have that language in the body of their collective agreement—along with a range of improvements, including on bereavement leave and vision care, and better compensation for lengthy shifts. Full credit is due to the bargaining committee and the servicing reps for all of their hard work since these negotiations began.”

CUPE 561 members from First Canada also include about a dozen mechanics. Negotiations for the next round of bargaining may begin as early as December 2019.