The union representing Halifax Transit operators has signed a new four-year collective agreement with the municipality, including 3% annual wage increases.
Amalgamated Transit Union 508 also represents mechanics and other Halifax Transit employees, 822 in total as of 2022.
The municipality posted the new contract online on Thursday. O’Leary and Mayor Mike Savage signed the agreement on May 4.
Union president Shane O’Leary tweeted the deal was done on Monday morning.
“Now we need labour peace,” O’Leary tweeted. “We need safe a workplace. We need HT and Council to make a ByLaw to help us be safe. We deserve better. Keep us safe. Change at the top is needed.”
Wage increases compound to 12.55%
The contract is backdated to Sept. 1, 2021 and lasts until Aug. 31, 2025. It provides annual wage increases of 3%. Compounded, the total increase over the life of the contract is 12.55%.
Due to staff shortages, Halifax Transit has cut services twice in the last year. Executive director Dave Reage told councillors in November 2022 that the service was at least 40 drivers short. O’Leary has previously argued that low wages are to blame for the transit service’s recruitment difficulties.
The new wages bring drivers up to at least a living wage for Halifax after training.
The wage for operators in training is currently $21.45, and will increase to $27.37 by the end of the contract. For operators who’ve completed training, the wage was $22.88. It will now be $24.28, moving to $27.37 on Sept. 1, 2024.
The maximum pay for a conventional transit operator after four years on the job increases from $28.61 as of Sept. 1, 2020 to $32.20 on Sept. 1, 2024.
Other union members, like mechanics and ferry workers, see the same percentage increases. A ferry captain currently makes a maximum of $82,270 annually, and will be up to $92,596 by the end of the contract. A first class mechanic will move to a maximum of $40.24 hourly.