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Why Metro Vancouver transit could be disrupted next month

CUPE 4500, the union that represents more than 180 transit workers with Coast Mountain Bus Company, is bargaining for two days in January.
Transit disruptions may take place in January as the union representing several hundred Coast Mountain Bus Company and TransLink employees heads to mediation. | Glacier Media

The union representing transit workers across Metro Vancouver is warning commuters that there could be disruptions across its network next month.

That is, if they decide to strike as a result of upcoming mediation with the employer.

In a news release, CUPE Local 4500, based in Burnaby, said the union and Coast Mountain Bus Company will be in mediation on Jan. 2 and 3 after the collective bargaining process "broke down" this month.

CUPE 4500 president Chris Gindhu said jobs can only be done if the company can "keep pace with staffing levels and maintain the fair compensation needed to retain workers."

"Our members go to work every day to help Lower Mainland residents and visitors safely and efficiently get where they need to go," said Gindhu.

CUPE 4500's last collective agreement with Coast Mountain expired on Dec. 31, 2022.

"Our members’ daily work is dedicated to ensuring there are no disruptions in transit service to the public, so we are working hard to avoid job action," Gindhu added.

"However, we can’t do it alone and need the company to enter mediation with that same commitment."

More than 180 workers are represented by CUPE 4500 across the Lower Mainland.

This includes transit supervisors, maintenance supervisors, service supervisors, tireperson supervisors, TComm staff, field service trainers, engineers, and warranty administrators, as well as supervisors for the parts department, body shop, trolley overhead, and fare box staff.

The members unanimously voted in favour of a strike on Dec. 12 should talks go south next Tuesday and Wednesday.

The strike vote was not made public until now, Gindhu explained, noting it was to "avoid needless concern" about holiday transit disruptions.

"The parties remain divided over working conditions and fair compensation, with workers seeking measures to address unmanageable workloads," the union added in its statement.

CUPE 4500 has declined further comment about the mediation process.