Members of CUPE 7000 have signed off on a new, six-year collective agreement with Southern Railway that includes annual wage increases, improvements to benefits and work-life balance issues, and other language improvements.

“We are extremely pleased to have a new deal that addresses so many of our members’ concerns,” said CUPE 7000 President Tony Rebelo.

“We want to thank the bargaining committee and our servicing representative for their hard work and tireless efforts in presenting a good deal to our members. The relationship between the employer and the union has changed significantly since the last round of bargaining, and the respectful tone and open lines of communication made a difference in the outcome.”

Rebelo added that he and CUPE 7000 look forward to building on the good foundation developed with the employer over the past few years.

Under the six-year deal, wage increases average at just over 2 per cent annually. The new contract also includes increases to coverage for speech therapy and registered counsellor/psychiatrist visits, dental premiums fully covered by the employer, and the creation of a new position in the Operations department.

“I want to thank all our members at Southern Railway who participated in our property meetings and in our ratification vote and took the opportunity to share their concerns about their workplace,” said Rebelo. “For our local executive, the engagement with members is always critical to understanding their true concerns, and we will continue to build on that relationship.”

Southern Railway employs 120 members of CUPE 7000 who work as engineers, conductors, mechanics, switching clerks, and rail maintenance staff. The private freight company operates between New Westminster and Chilliwack.