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HandyDART Workers Vote Overwhelmingly To Authorize Strike

ATU Local 1724 HandyDART Drivers, Maintenance Workers, Road Supervisors, Trainers, and Office Workers To Escalate Job Actions On July 3


Vancouver, BC – After eight months of fruitless bargaining with for-profit contractor Transdev, and six months of working under an expired contract, 95% of frustrated Metro Vancouver HandyDART workers voted this week to authorize strike action, if necessary.

“Our more than 600 bus operators, trainers, supervisors, office workers, and maintenance workers are fed-up with Transdev,” said Mark Beeching, President/Business Agent of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1724-Vancouver, BC, representing the workers.  “Contracting out HandyDART service has led to years of poor working conditions, unfair compensation, and ‘spiraling’ service that has been unable to meet demand. This strike vote sends a loud and clear message to Transdev and TransLink that it’s time to save our broken HandyDART system.”

Transdev, a French multinational corporation, has been contracted by TransLink to operate HandyDART service since 2018. Criticism of the increasing use of taxis at HandyDART and questions about Transdev’s poor track record have recently led to six different Mayors sitting on TransLink’s Regional Council for Transportation signing an open letter calling for the service to be brought in-house. The City Councils of Burnaby, North Vancouver, Langley City, Langley Township, and Maple Ridge have also passed resolutions calling for HandyDART to be insourced directly under TransLink.

The Union has been bargaining primarily for protections against the increasing use of taxis to fill HandyDART service, as well as for a “path to parity” with Coast Mountain transit workers, who make 30% more than HandyDART workers. Low wages at HandyDART in comparison with other transit jobs in the region have led to turnover at HandyDART being roughly double that of TransLink. The resulting worker shortages have been a major factor in the skyrocketing use of taxis at HandyDART, which riders have complained do not have the same training nor provide the same door-to-door service.

“HandyDART is a client-based, frontline service serving some of Metro Vancouver’s most overlooked populations,” Beeching continued. “As the agency overseeing HandyDART, TransLink has a responsibility to ensure that conditions and compensation are fair and decent enough to retain workers who know their clients’ needs. But these workers are compensated far less because this service has been privatized and contracted out to a multinational company making millions of dollars off taxpayer money.”

HandyDART workers in the Fraser Valley, who are also employed by Transdev, make more than $5 more per hour than Metro Vancouver HandyDART workers, and conventional bus operators earn roughly $10 more per hour.

“Our members are devoted to this work and to their riders, who depend on them. However, they can’t even afford to live in the Metro Vancouver area they serve,” said ATU International President John Costa. “They refuse to be treated with disrespect by a corporation that cares more about the bottom line than their employees and their riders. This strike vote shows they are strong and united and will do what is necessary to get a fair and just contract.”

The Union said that their members would start job actions in the form of a uniform refusal starting on July 3, and plan to escalate to a fare strike shortly thereafter. While they hope to reach a deal before a full work stoppage is necessary, the Union also said that they were fully prepared to go on a full strike should negotiations with Transdev continue to stall.

If Metro Vancouver HandyDART goes on strike, it would be the third major transit strike by Transdev workers in BC over the two years. Kelowna BC Transit workers walked off the job for a day in 2022 when the company was known as First Transit, and Fraser Valley BC Transit workers went on strike for 124 days in 2023.