I hear people saying that there’s going to be a transit strike. What’s happening?
The City of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Transit workers’ union haven’t been able to reach an agreement on a new labour contract since their previous deal expired in January.
Despite several rounds of negotiations, as of early August the two sides were still “tens of millions of dollars apart” on their latest proposals, according to city officials.
The transit union’s 1,500 members are set to vote on August 16 whether to accept what the city has called its final offer. If the union rejects the offer – which its leadership is recommending – then a transit strike in early September seems likely.
While the transit union president has denied that there are plans to strike, saying it is “the last thing” they would ever do, halting transit services during the back to school period would prove the most disruptive and place the most pressure on the city to return to the bargaining table.
If a strike does happen, how will this affect me getting to campus?
A strike could last anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks and take multiple forms.
One option is for bus drivers to continue driving their routes but simply stop collecting bus fares – as happened in May. In this case, if you rely on commuting by bus you should be able to get to campus just as you normally do.
Another option is for transit drivers to take coordinated action to seriously slow services – think of a bus coming once an hour, instead of every 15 or 20 minutes – or restrict services to a handful of key routes. In this case, you should plan to allow considerably more time to get to campus or arrange for a different way to get to campus, as a reduction in service frequency would probably mean that the few buses that are running will be full all the time.
The most drastic form of a strike would see bus services stop altogether. In this case you will certainly need to find alternative transport to campus.
If I need to find alternative transport to campus, what are my options?
If you live near enough to cycle or walk, then that is your best option. UMSU is already working on acquiring many more spots to safely lock you bike in the case a strike occurs.
If you aren’t able to cycle or walk to campus, then we suggest carpooling. The ridesharing program GoManitoba is a free service that matches drivers and riders – you can learn more and sign up here.
UMSU is monitoring the situation closely and working with the University administration to put contingency plans in place. Please check our website and social media for regular updates and new information as it becomes available.