Tentative agreement reached to end Sea to Sky transit strike

A BC Transit bus in Whistler is seen in this photo from the @WhistlerTransit Twitter account.

The months-long transit strike in B.C.'s Sea to Sky region may be coming to an end, after representatives from the union and the employer signed a tentative agreement Friday.

Neither side has released any details of the agreement, which will be put before members of Unifor Local 114 for a vote on Monday.

In a news release, the union said its bargaining committee "unanimously recommended" that members ratify the agreement.

Residents of the communities of Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton have been without transit service since Jan. 29, when Local 114's 80 members went on strike.

Multiple rounds of talks began and then broke down over the course of the four-month strike.

In the union's statement Friday, Unifor's western regional director Gavin McGarrigle praised members' efforts during the strike.

“Transit workers in the Sea to Sky went on strike to address the deeply unfair disparity between their wages and benefits and what is paid in other regions,” McGarrigle said.

“Local 114 members maintained a solid picket line and grew community support for their fight. I think they’ve accomplished a lot in these negotiations and demonstrated the importance of regional transit to these communities.”

In its own statement, employer Whistler Transit Ltd./Diversified Transportation – also known as PW Transit – said it was "pleased" to have reached the tentative agreement.

The employer added that details on the resumption of transit services in the region would be released "shortly."

The union said transit would resume "when it is safe to do so." 

BC Transit, which contracts PW Transit to operate the Sea to Sky system, also promised more information on a resumption of operations soon.

"BC Transit understands the serious impact this job action had on residents and local businesses in the community, and heard customers’ frustrations," the provincial transit agency said in a statement Saturday.

"We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience of the past few months and are pleased the parties were able to reach this agreement."