Updated: Mon, 16 Nov 2009 08:13:37 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Windsor transit workers approve contract

Windsor transit workers approve contract

Transit workers in Windsor have voted overwhelmingly in favour a new contract that includes wage increases but no final word on post-retirement benefits.

The three-year contract includes a 5.5 per cent wage increase, according to Roy Lucier of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 616, which represents more than 200 bus drivers, maintenance and administrative service employees in the southwestern Ontario city.

That means a bus driver's hourly wage will increase $1.37 by 2012, from $24.87 to $26.24. A customer service representative who currently earns $22.51 an hour will earn $23.75 an hour by 2012.

No decision was made about how to fund post-retirement benefits, but "we do have a letter of agreement that we're going to look at [them]," Lucier told CBC News.

Ninety-eight per cent of Local 616's members voted in favour of the agreement, easily avoiding the possibility of a strike.

"That was a huge plus," Lucier said. "Our members, nobody wants to go on strike anyway."

Contract talks began Sept. 9, three weeks before the union's previous contract was due to expire.

They stalled briefly on Oct. 23 after negotiators who'd thought they'd reached a tentative agreement were forced back to the bargaining table by Transit Windsor's board of directors.

At the outset, the talks were not expected to create "any major problems," board member and Windsor Coun. Caroline Postma told CBC News on Sept. 9.

"I wouldn't expect a settlement right away, but I would hope, with all the meeting dates that they have set, by the end there's a settlement," Postma said.

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