Amalgamated Transit Union Local 616 members vote in favour of new contract at Transit Windsor

The Transit Windsor bus station in Windsor, Ont., on Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (Chris Campbell / CTV Windsor)

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 616 workers at Transit Windsor have ratified a new collective agreement. 

A tentative deal was reached between the City of Windsor and ATU Local 616 on Sunday Feb. 4, hours before strike action was to begin.

ATU officials tell AM800 News the vote was 90 per cent in favour of the deal which expires Dec. 31, 2027. 

"Our members showed up in large numbers [Sunday] morning and they voted overwhelmingly to ratify the tentative agreement that the bargaining committee negotiated last weekend. So we're very pleased with the outcome," says Manny Sforza, ATU International Vice President. 

He says the contract comes with wage increases and improvements to benefits.

"And it's a very well balanced contract. Something that the bargaining team should be proud of. A contract that the membership should be proud of. They stood together. They should that they were willing to strike for a fair deal and I believe that's what we accomplished."

A major sticking point throughout the negotiations was the 10 paid sick days that are federally mandated for transit workers

Sforza says no concessions were made by the union on that issue.

"That was extremely frustrating to deal with at the bargaining table, because after all, that was in the city's budget. Those days were in the city's budget and that was a very contentious issue and frustrating to deal with. It should have never have been at the bargaining table."

Contract talks began late summer 2023 and had been slow and sluggish according to Sforza.

He says it's rewarding for him and his bargaining committee to get the endorsement from the membership based off the negotiated contract.

"It was long. A hard battle. Probably longer than it needed to be, but at the end of the day, we accomplished what we were set out to get for our members. I am very pleased."

The workers previous contract expired on Sept. 30, 2023 and had been in a strike position since Dec. 3, 2023.

ATU Local 616 first issued a 72-hour strike notice to the City of Windsor on Jan. 11 but rescinded it hours before the strike deadline of 12:01 am Jan. 15.

Another 72-hour strike notice was issued Jan. 29 after the union said that contract talks were at an impasse.

ATU Local 616 represents almost 300 members, including operators, customer service, administration, maintenance, and skilled trades, providing transit throughout Windsor and Essex County, and tunnel bus service to Detroit.