Transit Disruption: Your questions answered
Your Questions Answered
The city’s unionized employees engage in a process of collective bargaining that sets things like wages, benefits and working conditions. Both sides present their offers, and negotiations are held. In this case, the union representing transit workers, ATU Local 107, rejected a final offer from the City that was rejected by members, who voted to strike as of November 9, 2023.
As soon as possible! We love our transit workers and hope this is resolved as quickly and fairly as possible. In the meantime, we’re doing everything we can to reduce the impact on regular transit users and the rest of the city.
Everything we can.
No, all other systems are a go. We recommend factoring in a bit more travel time, but all other city services are operational and unaffected.
No. The 110th Grey Cup is on Sunday November 19th and it’s going to be great. There is a week of Grey Cup festivities and lots of great things to do and see across the city. Hamilton loves workers and it loves football, and we know visitors and residents will have a great time in our city. Learn more about the game and Grey Cup Festival here: www.hamilton.ca/alert/grey-cup-festival-2023
Yes! DARTS specialized transit service is not affected. Trips are still being delivered for eligible, registered Accessible Transportation Services (ATS) customers. Find more information about eligibility for ATS.
There will be no impact to your PRESTO card or the funds loaded onto it. You can continue to use it with other transit agencies or save it until buses are back up and running.
Based on the Tuition Pass agreements, refunds will be issued on a pro-rated basis for distribution after 10 days of lost service through college and university partners.
HSR will automatically issue a credit back to your PRESTO card for eight days, the duration of the strike. This will be done by November 24, 2023.
We want all our workers to be paid well and treated fairly, and we know the cost of living has gone up. The City offered a wage increase of 12.75% over four years. That’s nearly identical to the increase that was accepted just a few months ago by our largest union, CUPE Local 5167. But the ATU Local 107 requested a wage increase of approximately 23% over the next four years. That would mean $17 million more in wages that would have to be covered by increases to city transit fares and property taxes.
The City also engages in pattern bargaining, meaning agreements extended to one union are used as the precedent for offers to our other unionized employees. A 23% increase for all 11 City of Hamilton unions would translate to more than $113 Million over the next four years. And that cost would be passed on to the people of Hamilton at a time when many people are already struggling.
The City takes pride in offering fair salaries to its employees and ensuring we can attract great people.
HSR workers are the third highest paid amongst comparable transit municipalities, behind only Brampton and Mississauga. That puts them at the 83rd percentile, which is at the top of the salary range.
The City’s offer would have resulted in an annual salary of $79,726 by the fourth year of the agreement. That’s before overtime and other shift premiums.
The City’s non-unionized workers are paid at the 50th percentile, which is in the middle of the salary range of comparable cities.
Because this pay rate was affecting the City’s ability to hire and retain staff, non-unionized employees recently received a wage increase as part of the City’s Retention Strategy, and turnover has dropped to 5.23% from 9.94% last year.
As employees of the City of Hamilton, transit workers receive hourly wages and guarantees, shift premiums depending on their work assignments, paid vacation, medical, dental, life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment insurance, short term disability and long term disability benefits. They also participate in a pension plan; half of these contributions are paid by the employer.
A recent review of our compensation practices showed that Hamilton’s non-unionized employees were below the 50th percentile in wages – that means they were in the bottom half of the salaries being made in comparison to what people with similar jobs were earning in other comparable cities.
When people hear non-unionized they often think of top managers – but the largest increases that were provided to non-unionized staff went to receptionists, admin assistants and clerks, roles which are often held by women and have been historically underpaid due to the gender wage gap.
That’s why Council approved wage adjustments for the non-unionized staff, as it was unfair and affecting our ability to hire and retain staff. Our turnover rates dropped to 5.23% from 9.94% last year.
City Council received a 2.5% cost-of-living adjustment this year, as directed by bylaw. They were not included in the salary adjustments for non-unionized staff.
The City takes safety and security very seriously. That is why all HSR buses are equipped with an emergency button that can be used by each driver to call for assistance and why transit supervisors are available to drivers throughout the day to assist as needed. We’re always ready to address safety concerns raised by our drivers.
It’s so important that transit workers have access to the facilities they need. This was an issue during COVID, when many washrooms were closed. The City ensures that restrooms are available to transit operators at the beginning and the end of each route.
No one wanted a strike. Negotiations began in February and we remain committed to the process. We’re ready to talk at any time.
We are ready to talk at any time and look forward to resolving this quickly for workers and the people of Hamilton.
No. The HSR is not deemed an essential service in Ontario, and so there is no existing legislation that would allow the provincial government to order an end to the strike.
Strike protocols are a standard agreement signed by unions and employers that ensure workers continue to receive benefits during a work stoppage and create clear guidelines for appropriate and respectful behaviour during a strike. In this case, ATU Local 107 refused to sign strike protocols.