By Igor Kasprzycki
On November 23, members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 107 working at Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) ratified a new collective agreement with the City of Hamilton.
The new deal follows a week-long strike by the more than 800 public transit workers, which saw a 94 percent strike vote and broad support from both community and labour allies. Many local unions as well as the Hamilton District Labour Council joined the picket line.
The strike also saw Andrea Horwath, former Ontario NDP leader and now Mayor of Hamilton, taking a hostile stance towards the union. After stating to media that the union “needed to be reasonable” Horwath then called out union leaders on social media, accusing them of sexism and harassment for pointing out that HSR’s lead negotiator received a significantly higher pay raise than she was offering the ATU.
Additional pressure was provided by the City of Hamilton hosting the annual Grey Cup football game. The union returned to work three days prior to the game and just in time to service the pre-game events that took place before the big day.
Some of the most important issues during negotiations were worker safety, two tier pay raises (management vs front line staff) as well as wages. With wages that are not keeping up with inflation, union members complained that they are being “priced out” of the city they work in, a common occurrence in many of Canada’s major urban centers.
The new deal sees wage increases of just over 11 percent over four years. It also includes a one-time boost in health benefits for next year, increased bereavement leave, operator shuttle buses and a signing bonus of $750.
[Photo: HDLC Facebook]
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