After a month of uncertainty, Fredericton Transit has come to a tentative agreement with the city. At a meeting on Friday, 85 per cent of union members voted in favour of accepting the city’s terms, avoiding a strike.
“After careful consideration, we believe our ridership was more important than leaving them out on the street,” said Susan Sauve, CUPE Local 1783 president.
Students are relieved they won’t have to worry about the bus. Nathalie Sturgeon, a St. Thomas student who relies heavily on the bus, said, “It’s a little easier on my mind to know that my life won’t be turned upside down because I have to mode of transportation.”
STUSU president Megan Thomson said while the student union was prepared for a strike, everyone involved is relieved they won’t have to take action.
“STUSU is pleased to hear that an agreement has been reached. Though we had plans in place if service interruption were to occur, we’re glad to know that student transportation will be unaffected,” she said.
Sauve said the union has decided to take the original offer, which is a 1.75 per cent annual wage increases in the first three years of the new deal, and annual increases of 2.5 per cent in the final two years of the agreement, as well as a $25 increase to full-time worker’s biweekly benefits spending allowance.
In the end, the people who would have been hurt most by a strike are students, the elderly and other vulnerable people who can’t afford cars or cabs.
“We considered the economics and what kind of harm it’s going to do to the public if we [strike], and the public won out,” said Paul Pickard, the union’s vice president.
Pickard said transit workers were just as concerned about a strike as the public, and are “extremely relieved” by the outcome.
“Everybody can go back to normal and nobody’s got any more anxiety about it,” he said.
All that’s left to be done is paperwork, but otherwise the tentative agreement is official.