BURNABY – SkyTrain workers represented by CUPE Local 7000 voted 90 percent in favour of a strike last night. If mediated talks fail next Wednesday, SkyTrain could come to a halt late next week.
The unionized SkyTrain workers are seeking to improve as well as maintain parity with the wage rates, shift premiums and benefits that other unionized transit workers have secured at TransLink subsidiaries, such as Coast Mountain Bus Company. They are also seeking appropriate compensation for extending their collective agreement beyond the Olympics.
“We have got to see some justice at the table,” says Gerry Cunningham, President of CUPE Local 7000. “Not just because it’s right, but also because our rates and benefits need to stay competitive to keep recruiting and retaining the skilled workers needed to operate our sophisticated SkyTrain system.”
For the first twenty years of SkyTrain’s operation, wage rates were tied to those of other Lower Mainland transit operations. In fact, when Mediator Vince Ready first established the “comparator wage rate” (tied to BC Transit), SkyTrain workers were being paid on average 10 cents to 12 cents an hour more than other transit workers. Today, with governance being shifted to TransLink through its subsidiary contractors, SkyTrain workers are behind, chasing the wages and benefits of Coast Mountain Bus Company employees.
CUPE Local 7000 members want to see incorporated in their agreement guarantees that anything gained in future TransLink subsidiary bargaining rounds are also applied to SkyTrain employees. There are 4000 unionized transit workers that have yet to hit the bargaining table. These include CAW 111 (Coast Mountain Bus drivers), CAW 2200 (Coast Mountain Bus trades and maintenance), COPE (TransLink office, CMBC office and clerical), and the Greater Vancouver Transportation Police Services (GVTAPS).
The most recent round of negotiations failed to produce meaningful improvements to a tentative agreement, rejected ten days earlier by two thirds of the CUPE Local 7000 SkyTrain workers.
CUPE Local 7000 represents 516 SkyTrain attendants, control operators, skilled trades, maintenance and clerical staff that maintain and operate the SkyTrain system.
For more information, please contact:
CUPE Local 7000 President
CUPE Communications Representative
For more information, please visit www.cupe.bc.ca