SkyTrain workers’ union calls strike vote amid stalled contract negotiaions

There’s more potential trouble brewing for Metro Vancouver commuters: the union representing SkyTrain workers has called a strike vote.

CUPE Local 7000 says it called the vote after the BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC), the TransLink subsidiary which operates SkyTrain, rejected the union’s latest proposal for bargaining dates.

The union’s 900 members have been without a contract since the end of August.

READ MORE: SkyTrain union opens door to possible job action amid stalled contract talks

The union says BCRTC claimed it was open to further bargaining, but turned down offers by its members to negotiate prior to scheduled mediation later this month.

“However, the chief negotiator for BCRTC rejected those dates, didn’t offer alternate dates, and stated that the Company will only meet us at mediation,” said union president Tony Rebelo.

“The BCRTC is clearly saying one thing publicly and another thing privately.”

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Rebelo refused to speculate on what the first stages of job action would look like, saying only that the union was focused on a settlement that avoids service disruption.

Any SkyTrain disruption would not affect the Canada Line, which is operated separately.

However, TransLink rejected the union’s characterization of the situation, saying previous offers to continue bargaining had been made before mediation was scheduled.

“Given that a mediator has now been appointed, we need to respect that process and look forward to seeing productive discussions between the two parties,” said TransLink spokesperson Ben Murphy.

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver transit strike: Union to announce next escalation Wednesday

“The appointed mediator was used during the last collective bargaining process and is very familiar with the issues.”

Eight days of mediated talks are scheduled beginning Nov. 28.

The SkyTrain strike vote comes as the union representing bus drivers, SeaBus operators and mechanics warned it planned to escalate job action on Wednesday, and hinted that members were preparing for the picket lines.

Rebelo said the strike vote would be completed on Thursday, with results to be announced shortly afterward.