New Brunswick

Saint John transit workers sign contract, agree to no wage increase in 2021

The Saint John Transit commission and the union have signed a new collective agreement after a little under a year of negotiations.

COVID-19, city's financial challenges biggest reason for no wage increase this year

Saint John transit workers ratified an agreement with the city on Jan. 10, 2021. (CBC)

The Saint John Transit commission and its unionized workers have signed a new collective agreement after a little under a year of negotiations.

Grant Logan, the president of the union representing 70 transit workers, said COVID-19 and the city's financial restrictions were the two main reasons the union agreed to a zero per cent wage increase this year. 

"We knew that this is not going to be an easy negotiation, it's going to be difficult to try and get any money," he said in an interview.

Logan said negotiations went "relatively well," with the biggest sticking point being wages.

"We just wanted a fair and compatible contract to what other other locals are getting across North America."

The city of Saint John has been grappling with a $10-million deficit. The union began negotiating in February of last year, and ratified the agreement this Sunday.

The new agreement says union members will get a retroactive pay increase of 1.036 per cent for 2020, zero per cent increase for 2021 and a further increase in 2022 that will be calculated closer to that year.

The increase for 2022 will be governed by the city's wage escalation policy. Logan said this policy means means unionized workers will get a wage increase based on the city's growth in the three previous years.

City manager John Collin told council Monday the transit workers are now the second unionized work group that has agreed to accept the wage escalation policy. 

"This is a huge step positive step forward for the city," he said. 

Saint John city manager John Collin says the ratification of the transit workers' contract is a step forward for the city. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

Everything else in the transit workers' collective agreement remains the same, Logan said. The union represents drivers as well as service people and bus maintenance workers.

The city still has not reached an agreement with the police and fire unions. The police unions biggest sticking point since they started negotiating last year is pay.

The union is asking for a 2.89 per cent increase in wages. The Labour Board previously ruled against the union and said the two sides need to appoint a provincial mediator after talks broke down in January of last year. 

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said the Saint John Police union is looking for a two per cent increase in its contract negotiations. The correct number is 2.89 per cent.
    Jan 12, 2021 7:00 PM AT

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