Metrobus workers vote to strike

Alisha Morrissey
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Metrobus drivers and maintenance workers have decided to strike and are scheduled to have picket lines set up at Metrobus headquarters on Freshwater Road as early as 6 a.m. today.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1462 president Paul Churchill says the membership voted 97 per cent in favour of labour action.

The union and transit authority entered conciliation talks last week, but they broke off late Tuesday afternoon.

The strike vote started Wednesday morning and continued throughout the day as workers changed shifts.

The union made the announcement late Wednesday night after a meeting with staff that union workers will strike.

The sticking point was the health benefits package, said Churchill.

Metrobus management has said the system will not operate while workers are on strike, leaving thousands scrambling to find alternate transportation.

In a news release from Metrobus, general manager Judy Powell said the transit authority regrets the inconvenience to its ridership.

“The reality is, though, there is a limit to what we can agree to at the negotiating table and we have gone as far as we can,” Powell said in the release.

“The reality is, though, there is a limit to what we can agree to at the negotiating table and we have gone as far as we can.” Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1462 president Paul Churchill

Metrobus officials were meeting late Wednesday to talk about the development.

Churchill said the drivers and staff regret the public will have to find other transportation.

There’s no time set to get back to the table, both sides said Wednesday, but both said they were willing to talk.

The last time the transit authority workers went on strike was in November 2004 for 20 days.

Metrobus averted a strike in December 2007, when workers signed a three-year deal after voting to not walk out and go back to the table.

Before that, the last official strike at Metrobus occurred in 1974, although workers engaged in wildcat strikes in 1988 and 2000.

Metrobus carries roughly 14,000 passengers each day, with 17 bus routes in St. John’s and Mount Pearl. It operates a fleet of 54 buses.

For more information, see or call 722-9400.

Organizations: Transit Union Local, Churchill

Geographic location: Freshwater Road, Mount Pearl

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Recent comments

  • james
    November 07, 2010 - 08:16

    do not make to much money your neighbour may be jelous

  • james
    November 07, 2010 - 08:11

    don,t worry be happy the king will fix everything

  • waiting for a ride
    November 05, 2010 - 06:26

    Anyone that works for a gov dept,municipal,federal,provincial, etc... should not be allowed to strike.You are being paid by taxpayers money that we have to pay,so you are also on strike against us.

  • Donna Byneshewsky
    November 04, 2010 - 19:42

    In this day and age they should be thankful that they have a job and especially when it is paying between $24 - $26 an hour. With so many people out of work or having to accept a position at minimum wage I think they need a reality check.

  • John Stokes
    November 04, 2010 - 19:32

    Unions = lazy.... unions=greedy....... unions=selfish and all those terms=Metro Bus Union Staff I love more than anything to see them fired and replaced with greatful people

  • Duffy
    November 04, 2010 - 18:35

    Duh! Guess who will get stuck with the greedy union demands. THE TAXPAYER. Send the drivers home, shut the bus service down and save money. If they come back bring them back at the old contract or replace them. GREED!!!!! Unions are losing members and membership is down all over the USA and Canada - wonder why ?

  • ML in NL
    November 04, 2010 - 17:44

    Give an inch, take a mile...and in this case an inch is a whopping 15% percent pay raise! Employees who voted for the strike should be ashamed, as they cripple 14000 riders while they hold out for the cherry on top of their fat piece of pie. To land a job where the employer offers a benefit package at all, and on top pays 50% of the coverage is a gem for the majority of the working class. Greed is not strong enough a word. I hope each rider finds alternative transportation and then sticks to it long after this rediculousness is over. A boycott on MetroBus to put in check an already declining number of revenue and riders, should drivers and mechanics be forced back into the job hunt, let them then say they won't work for less than 100% of thier benefits paid for, Shameful.

  • Mr. W
    November 04, 2010 - 16:26

    Many of Metrobus users are students or minium wage earners who cannot aford a car. Be thankful and swallow your 15% and get back to work. You should be replaced. It not exactly brain surgery that you are doing.

    November 04, 2010 - 15:26

    Keep them out till they rot. They are overpaid as it is. Benefits ,benefits,benefits.Pay for them yourselves.

  • political watchdog
    November 04, 2010 - 15:14

    Has the vandalism started yet? IIt will. Mysteriously, windows wll be broken, vehicles damaged; managers will be threatened, their families will be bullied, their homes will be spray painted; cars scratched; properties will be damaged; ficious name calling, lewd words will be hurled at management as they try to cross the line; there might be fistfights; a striker will put their body up against a manager's vehicle just as its entering the parking lot...and so on...these things are as much a part of a strike in NL as negotiations and respectful discussion and compromise. Eventually it will be settled, the union will deny participation in any vandalism, no-one will be prosecuted or punished; all hands will be rewarded handsomely and they'll return to work to bitch and complain until the contract expires again; oh, and the company will incur the costs of repairs and cleanup... and the public will be inconvenienced ....repeat over and over.

  • Spunky1975
    November 04, 2010 - 15:04

    I'm wondering why do a lot of people think that this strike is about the wages that the Metrobus drivers are getting, when it's not about that at all? It's actually about getting more health benefits for the new drivers. I dont agree with the strike at all and it has left me having to pay $30 a day in cabs to get to and from my work.

  • roland of gilead
    November 04, 2010 - 14:51

    If this was an essential service as is said currently on the metrobus site by Judy Powell, then they would not be allowed to strike. Think about this Newfoundland.

  • Carolyn
    November 04, 2010 - 13:18

    Its not about a pay raise, it wasn't even an issue. Its not about MORE benefits.....its about the benefits they have now being taken away from them. You should read the above article that states the "sticking point is the health benefits package".

  • wow
    November 04, 2010 - 13:16

    Ok .....I'm missing something Workers on the picket line losing $100's of dollars a day every day they are off the job. New employees (not even hired) who you are negotiating for.... lose $0. Why would you strike for someone elses benifits...worry about yourself. Metrobus is saving thousands of dollars a day everyday you are off the job negotiating for someone who doesn't even work there yet. Where is the logic in this??????

  • Victoria
    November 04, 2010 - 13:00

    Everyone would like to get paid more money, but you don't see the rest of us stepping on the little guys to obtain it. I hope you feel proud of yourself, win or lose - because the bottom line is your greed paints an accurate picture of your personality, put on display for the whole city to see. I'll remember to look down my nose at you (and disregard my manners) next time I ask for a transfer.

  • HL
    November 04, 2010 - 12:34

    I think the union is the problem here. They say they are holding out for 16% instead of 15.5. The other problem is a 50/50 co-share between employee and employer for health benefits - some people do not have health benefits. If the amount per group is too high, get the HR Department to go to market and find a company who could give you the best prices for health benefits. If the union would stay out of all these matters, most of NL would be back to work. Imagine all the strikes on the go, and people dying to have jobs like these people who are out keeping warm by fire barrels. Sign or quit and let someone else work who wants a job.

  • willie
    November 04, 2010 - 12:22

    The Union are going to have a hard time trying to justify this strike. 15% increase in salary, sound good to me. What did the Union turn down that's not juicy enough.

  • BusRidingGirl
    November 04, 2010 - 11:53

    Everyone should realize that it's Judy Powell and the city that forced this strike, not the union. The city always makes it look like the workers are greedy, but it's the city that offered a 15% wage increase. What the city wants is for these workers to accept a raise on one hand and then give all that money back in the way of concessions on benefits. Benefits are expensive, and what the city was asking for would more than eat up whatever raise they were being offered. Would you work for less than you are making now? I know I sure a hell wouldn't......

  • Monique
    November 04, 2010 - 11:32

    To JasonP and Anna. If you read the news correctly wage is not the issue but instead they want to take away the employees current medical benefits. Some of your comments are just out right rude! Sure there are thousands that unfortunately have had their only means of transportation taken from them this morning but there are many households that may have to wonder how they will feed their children and pay their bills this morning. I hope an agreement can be reached soon and everyone can sigh relief.

  • Political Watcher
    November 04, 2010 - 11:17

    From what I heard Mr. Churchill say on the radio this morning, greed is what comes to mind. Having employess pay a portion of thier benefits is not new, everybody else, (who has the luxury of benefits) pays a share and you should too. Be careful just how greedy you are, afterall, you are being paid out of public funds and many of those public make nothing near what you do. Just watch the level of support you get once they feel betrayed.

  • Stranded
    November 04, 2010 - 10:50

    I don't know what it is in the health benefits package that is the issue, but I hope it's worth leaving thousands of people stranded without transportation. It seems the driver's think people ride the bus by choice. Maybe that's true for some passengers, but the majority ride the bus out of necessity because they have no other means of transportation. This brings me to my next point. I think the public transit system should be considered an essential service and never be completely stopped. My suggestion would be in times like these to decrease the runs throughout the day by half or even three quarters. Even if all they had were an early morning run, midday run, late afternoon run and a late evening run. At least give people the chance to get to and from work. Cutting the runs by that much causes enough inconvenience. Not everybody lives within walking distance to school or work.

  • 1LessRider
    November 04, 2010 - 10:41

    If I didn't rely on the bus as my mode of transportation, I would drive by them today and give a big FU!

  • rodney
    November 04, 2010 - 10:28

    i can understand what there fighting for there not looking for money there looking to get an increase in the medical benefits that there receiving and they have the right to fight for what they need

  • John
    November 04, 2010 - 10:20

    This is just another example of unions abusing people that have no control over what other do. Bet that the union hierachy is getting their fat checks for sitting on their backsides. DOWN WITH UNIONS

  • anna
    November 04, 2010 - 09:23

    I hope management leaves them out there forever. 15% over four years, who would turn down and the city facing a $5M deficit? Let the new employees look after themselves, one of these days those same new employees will be trying to get you to retire to save their job.

  • tom
    November 04, 2010 - 08:20

    What do you think happens when minimum wage goes up to almost the highest in Canada? They ARE getting a nice raise but still not enough... these won't be the only group looking for more benefits/money... it is just the start...

  • JasonP
    November 04, 2010 - 08:00

    If I'm not mistaken Metrobus Bus Drivers make somewhere along the lines of $24-$26 an hour and they turned down a 15.5% pay increase over three about greed!!! thousands of people in the metro area has to go without transpertation while those fat greedy bus drivers holds out for more money. I hope they don't get what they are after and the government forces them back to work..

    • corey
      November 04, 2010 - 11:28

      you are mistaken jason p and until you can find out the details you should really keep your comments about the drivers to yourself. the issue is not money at all, so please dont be ignorant when talking about something you have no clue about