At a general meeting this past Saturday, bus drivers with the Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL) ratified their new collective agreement via a secret ballot. They voted 79% in favour of the tentative agreement that their union and the employer reached on June 5.

The five-year agreement covers the period from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2021 and calls for a total wage increase of 11% spread over the life of the agreement.

The highlights of the new agreement include a series of measures to simultaneously improve trip times, customer service and the working environment of the some 750 drivers. These measures flow from the drivers’ number one priority during these negotiations, which is summarized by their slogan: Le service aux usagers, notre priorité (Service to users is our priority).

For starters, one million dollars was invested over five years to improve trip times. The union and the employer commit to agreeing jointly to changes to trips due to major worksites – the Champlain Bridge, the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel-bridge, the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) and the Longueuil metro station terminal. The scheduling and assignment committee will have a special mandate to improve its production process.

“This new collective agreement is a major victory not only for RTL drivers but also for all members of the public in Longueuil. It will give drivers a greater voice in bringing about improvements to public transit on the South Shore. Members of our union were steadfast in their mobilization for more than a year to reach their objective. Gaining and maintaining the support of users and the public were key,” explained Sylvie Champagne, president of the Syndicat des chauffeurs d’autobus du RTL, CUPE 3333.

About a year ago, RTL bus drivers voted 98% in favour of a strike mandate to be exercised at the opportunte moment. They subsequently came to work, wearing T-shirts and orange sweaters sporting the Le service aux usagers, notre priorité slogan. In the spring of 2018, they resorted to pressure tactics, targeting the employer’s administrative structure, while sparing service to users.