Transit riders who rely on the District of West Vancouver's municipal Blue Bus to get around may be left standing in the coming weeks as contract negotiations between the union that operates and maintains the buses and the district are in trouble.
The district presented its final offer to the Amalgamated Transit Union local 134 last week after months of negotiation and mediation from the Labour Relations Board, however the union's leadership is not keen on the offer.
"We've been negotiating for over a year now, and it's something that's very frustrating," said Geoff Devlin, 134 president.
The district issued a press release on Sept. 13, calling on the ATU to accept an offer that is "in line with a deal reached between Coast Mountain Bus Company and its union earlier this year."
That deal involved pay increases of 0 per cent in 2012, two per cent in 2013 and two per cent in 2014. However, negotiations over issues other than wages have the two sides separated.
"We're having information meetings on Thursday (Sept. 26) and we're having a strike vote on Friday (Sept. 27). The Amalgamated Transit Union is strongly recommending that the offer be rejected," Devlin said.
"Hopefully it doesn't come to that. Hopefully we can resolve our issue."
Devlin could not offer what specifically the union was seeking beyond the same pay increase as the Coast Mountain Bus Company staff, however he said scheduling of mechanics is an issue.
A full-blown strike would cause a huge disruption for district residents and visitors who don't drive, Devlin said.
"It's an unfortunate situation for everybody. People can't get to doctor's appointments, seniors can't get to seniors centre or hospitals, people can't get to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal.
But, Devlin clarified, if the union votes in favour of a strike, it won't necessarily mean picket lines and job action. It will simply put the union in a legal position to walk off the job.
The last time the district had a job action of any kind, according to district spokesman Jeff McDonald, was in 1982.
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