TransLink is in a good position to win the public-relations war with the union representing transit operators and maintenance staff.
The regional transportation authority's bus company has offered a four-year wage hike of 12.2 percent to the maintenance staff, which isn't too shabby.
There's a company pledge of 9.6 percent over four years for transit operators. That exceeds the increases that many transit riders will get.
These Coast Mountain Bus Company workers already earn a decent wage: $32.61 per hour for transit operators and $40.09 for mechanics, machinists, and other skilled tradespeople.
But there's a giant forest hog looming over the negotiations with potential to turn the public against the company.
And that's those whopping executive compensation packages at TransLink.
Salary payments to the previous president and general manager of Coast Mountain Bus Company, Haydn Acheson, rose 24 percent between 2016 and 2018 to $314,069.
He delayed his retirement to head TransLink's rapid-transit arm until Michel Ladrak moved into this position in August.
Compare Acheson's increases to the salary paid to the president of Unifor Local 111, Balbir Mann, in 2018. He collected $76,719 last year as a full-time transit operator.
This summer, just as two Unifor locals were gearing up for job action, the TransLink board actually jacked up the maximum pay for several key executives, including Acheson.
CEO Kevin Desmond's maximum salary rose from $406,634 to $517,443, according to Global B.C. News. The pay hike occurred behind closed doors.
In 2018, Desmond collected $405,242, brushing up against the maximum.
The maximum for Coast Mountain Bus Company's president and CEO, Mike McDaniel, increased to $372,513.
What type of board of directors grants huge increases to the bosses in advance of what could be a contentious strike with potential to cause widespread public misery? It was colossally stupid and insensitive.
And what can you say about a mayors' council that appoints most of the members and then bellyaches about Unifor's negotiating position?
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has pointed out that the Toronto Transit Commission hired a new CEO last year after offering a pay range from $247,556 to $356,046.
It's absurd that the CEO of TransLink might be receiving more than $500,000 per year, no matter how many hours he puts in and no matter how good a job he's doing.
At this salary, Desmond would be making $57.23 per hour even if he worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week!
If TransLink wants to win over transit riders, the board should immediately rescind the executive pay increases.
Give the executives what they're offering the workers. And if some of these executives bugger off, then hire someone else to do the job.
To do otherwise reeks of hypocrisy.