This story has been updated to include comment from the District of West Vancouver.
The District of West Vancouver’s Blue Bus could be in for a bumpy ride as the collective agreement between its staff and the district is soon to expire and the union is alleging unfair labour practices.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 134, which represents 150 bus operators, mechanics and maintenance workers, has filed a formal complaint with the BC Labour Relations Board, accusing the district of failing to live up to its obligations under the Labour Relations Code.
The union gave legal notice to begin bargaining in November, 2021. The current contract between the District of West Vancouver and the ATU Local 134 expires on March 31.
Under the Labour Relations Code, both sides are to “commence to bargain collectively in good faith,” within 10 days of legal notice being given.
West Vancouver never set a date to present an offer or consider a proposal from the ATU, the union alleges, and when they raised it with the district last week, district staff directed them to a third-party negotiator, which the union says is a violation of the code.
“West Vancouver District has had months to prepare for bargaining and yet has apparently done nothing to meet its legally required timeline to negotiate a new contract by providing its position to the union and taking the union’s position back for discussion,” said local 134 president Cornel Neagu. “West Vancouver should get to work, meet its collective bargaining obligations and start negotiations immediately – otherwise it could become an employer found guilty of unfair labour practices just as our contract expires. This is no way to run a municipality or a transit system.”
According to the union, the Blue Bus carries about 18,000 passengers per day.
The district issued a statement on the matter on Tuesday afternoon.
"The District of West Vancouver supports the collective bargaining process and is committed to negotiating a renewed contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 134. The contract between the district and ATU Local 134 remains in full force and does not expire until March 31, 2022. The significant, unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the recent surge of the Omicron variant, have created challenges for transit and municipal governments, which must be factored into bargaining timelines and processes," it read. "The district is currently in the process of preparing for collective bargaining with ATU Local 134 and has been in regular contact with the ATU to discuss the timeline and process for bargaining. The district expects to engage in productive bargaining to reach a contract that will be ratified by both parties, as has been done in the past."