Coast Mountain Bus Company claims Unifor is demanding $608 million on top of already generous offer

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      TransLink's wholly owned bus subsidiary has tried to counter a union's claim that it's not getting a fair shake in contract talks.

      Today, Coast Mountain Bus Company said that it has offered a 12.2 percent increase over four years to maintenance trade employees.

      Full-time workers who've completed four-year apprenticeships already earn $78,175.50 per year. That's based on a 37.5-hour week before overtime.

      A wage hike of this size would lift their pay to $87,712 annually by the fourth year, not counting overtime.

      The company also said that transit operators have been offered a 9.6 percent increase over four years.

      Operators with two years' experience currently earn $63,589.50 before overtime, based on a 37.5-hour week.

      The raise would lift transit operators' annual income, before overtime, to $69,694.09 in the fourth year.

      In addition, Coast Mountain Bus Company claimed that Unifor Locals 111 and 2200 are demanding $608 million on top of what's offered.

      "This is funding that would otherwise be used for transit improvement and expansion," bus company president and CEO Mike McDanield said in a statement. "Our current offer on the table is fair and reasonable, exceeding public sector settlements in British Columbia. Union representatives have repeatedly refused our suggestion of a third-party mediator to help resolve the situation.”

      Unifor's chief negotiator, Gavin McGarrigle, said over Twitter that his members "aren't buying the company lines".

      "Our members are fully behind their union," he insisted. "They're starting a uniform ban today and they've asked us to make sure that we give them some Unifor T-shirts."

      Unifor Local 2200 members who do maintenance began refusing to do any overtime.

      McGarrigle added that support from passengers has been "overwhelming".

      "They were coming up and shaking our hand and telling us to stand strong," he noted. "They were even asking us for a Unifor T-shirt. So the mood is strong out there."