Fredericton Transit drivers will be voting on Sunday over whether to accept a new five-year contract being offered by the city and a refusal to accept the deal would put the unionized employees into a legal strike position.
Ralph McBride, a national service representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said the two sides were unable to hammer out a collective agreement, despite various conciliation and mediation attempts.
Fredericton has issued a final offer, which will be voted on by the unionized drivers on Sunday.
McBride said the city's "take-it-or-leave-it" strategy is not sitting well with the union.
"That's not something that we favour, it's like negotiating with a gun to your head," he said.
The main sticking point between the two sides is pay.
Fredericton Transit drivers are paid less than their counterparts in Moncton and Saint John.
McBride said the average Fredericton bus driver earns about $22 per hour, which is $2.44 per hour behind Moncton drivers and about $4 per hour below Saint John transit drivers.
The union is hoping to get its drivers closer to parity with Codiac Transpo drivers in Moncton by the end of the upcoming deal.
Wayne Knorr, a communications official with the City of Fredericton, said the five-year agreement that is on the table offers the same percentage increases as have already been accepted by CUPE's inside and outside workers in Fredericton.
"We feel, at the City of Fredericton, that the offer that has been made is reasonable, especially since it is above current and projected inflation," Knorr said on Wednesday.
The result of the vote on the city's offer will be known on Monday, according to the union.
McBride said unionized bus drivers understand the inconvenience that a potential work stoppage could have on citizens, who rely on the service.
"That's not something that they'll take lightly and it's not something that myself … takes lightly, because it is a public service and we understand the need," he said.
"That's a last step action for us. We are hoping that cooler heads will prevail."
In 2012, Moncton's Codiac Transpo workers were locked out by the city for five months.