Special Report: Light Rail

Compromise Motion to Ensure LRT Workers are ATU Members

Under the proposal by Councillor Green and ATU President Eric Tuck, Metrolinx would continue the current procurement process but agree that LRT workers will be organized by ATU Local 107.

By Ryan McGreal
Published December 15, 2017

In a joint press conference today, Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Green and transit union President Eric Tuck presented a notice of motion intended to broker a compromise over the contentious question of who will operate the Hamilton light rail transit (LRT) system.

City Councillors are meeting on Monday, December 18, 9:30 AM in a special General Issues Committee meeting to debate the response from Metrolinx President Phil Versters to an earlier request from Council asking to have the Hamilton Street Railway (HSR), the City's public transit service, operate and maintain the LRT.

The letter from Versters agreed that Metrolinx would be willing to agree to letting the City take over operations but not maintenance. However, the letter strongly recommended against this, clarifying that the City would have to assume the full operational cost, responsiblity and liability risk if Council insists on taking over operations.

Under the current procurement model, the City will negotiate a Master Agreement with Metrolinx that specifies exactly how the City and Metrolinx will share operating costs and revenues, once a contract is signed with the winning consortium to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the system for 30 years (a so-called DBFOM contract).

In the past, Metrolinx has agreed to remove operations from the procurement process (a co-called DBFM contract) in Toronto and Ottawa, where the local transit authority has experience operating rapid transit.

The letter from Versters also warned that if the City takes over operations, the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to identify a shortlist of consortia invited to bid on the LRT contract would have to be re-issued, adding four or five months to the procurement schedule. Metrolinx issued an RFQ for the current DBFOM contract back in February, but has not been able to proceed with a Request for Proposals (RFP) to the approved shortlist of consortia while the issue of who will operate the LRT remains unsettled.

Proposed Compromise

Under Green and Tuck's proposed compromise, the existing procurement process would be allowed to continue so Metrolinx can finally issue the long-awaited RFP. However, Metrolinx would be required to guarantee that Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 107, the union representing HSR workers, be allowed to bargain for LRT workers to receive the same pay, benefit and pension agreement as HSR workers.

In addition, Metrolinx would agree that up to two members of the Hamilton Community Benefits Network, a non-profit corporation advocating community benefits agreements in capital projects, be invited to participate in the procurement process.

The notice of motion includes the text of a Letter of Understanding between the City and ATU Local 107, which states that "any conversion of existing fixed route conventional transit services ... will be exclusively ATU work."

ATU takes the position that this contractually obligates the City to ensure that the LRT workers will be members of the union. However, it is not clear whether an LRT system owned by Metrolinx would qualify as a" conversion of existing fixed route conventional transit service" under the terms of the letter.

It is also not clear what implications such a motion might have on the procurement process if Council votes to approve. RTH contacted Metrolinx to ask whether the existing DBFOM procurement model can accommodate these conditions. Metrolinx spokesperson Scott Money replied, writing, "We just received the motion and need time to process it. We should have more information for you by next week."

This notice of motion from Councillor Green comes on the heels of another notice of motion from Ward 1 Councillor Aidan Johnson that seeks to put the issue to bed by endorsing the existing procurement model and would "officially request that Metrolinx co-operate in the unionization of the Light Rail Transit drivers."

One thing is clear: as stipulated in the letter from Versters, if Council does not make up its mind about this issue by January 24, 2018, Metrolinx will simply proceed with the existing DBFOM procurement process and issue the RFP.

Text of Green's Notice of Motion

Following is the text of Councillor Green's Notice of Motion


Committee Date: Dec. 18, 2017



Good Jobs and Community Benefits:

Re: Operations and Maintenance of Hamilton LRT

WHEREAS at the Special General Issues Committee Light Rail Transit LRT Report 17-016, dated August 9, 2017, the following motion was passed which was subsequently ratified by Hamilton City Council as follows:

"That staff be directed to advise Metrolinx that the forthcoming operating and maintenance agreement between the City of Hamilton and Metrolinx for Light Rail Transit should include the Hamilton Street Railway as the party responsible to operate and maintain the new Light Rail Transit line, and any other future transit expansion, in the city of Hamilton."

AND WHEREAS, both the government of the province of Ontario and Metrolinx raised official concerns with the above motion, which in turn led to Hamilton Council directing staff on December 1, 2017, to advise on the potential responsibilities, risks and obligations of a DBFM versus a DBFOM model;

AND WHEREAS, Staff Report Operation and Maintenance of the Hamilton Light Rail Transit (LRT) System (PED17185/HUR17024) (City Wide) submitted December 1, 2017 by LRT Project Coordination Planning and Economic Development Department Mr. Paul Johnson recommending that the key risks and responsibilities associated with a DBFM model are below.

"On March 28, 2017, staff prepared an information report on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Procurement Model (PED17030), which sets out some of the key differences between DBFOM and DBFM delivery models. Key differences between the delivery models were summarized in a table appended to that report, and is re-attached hereto with updates to reflect further labour relations analysis, as Appendix "B" to Report PED17185/HUR17024."

AND WHEREAS, Council is required to indicate a preference between the DBFM and DBFOM process by January 24, 2018;

WHEREAS Council has further been advised by way of Metrolinx's procurement policy that HSR is prohibited from bidding for the maintenance work on the new LRT expansion under current provincial regulations;

AND WHEREAS ATU 107 have been and remain an integral contributor to the growth and prosperity of our city of Hamilton by providing safe, affordable and efficient Public Transit for almost 120 years and have maintained stable labour relations in the community;

AND WHEREAS the City and ATU Local 107 had previously collectively bargained and ratified language in their collective agreement extending Local 107's bargaining rights in the event that, transit in Hamilton was extended or otherwise expanded by the City of Hamilton;

AND WHEREAS the agreement specifically referred to a Letter of Understanding between the parties described as Re: Alternative Services Delivery New Services (Appendix A);

AND WHEREAS the City further recognizes and acknowledges it's existing and subsequent collective bargaining agreements and commitments with the ATU and it's Local 107 including, but not limited to the Letter of Understanding referenced above;

AND WHEREAS, the City has a recognized obligation under such collective agreement for recognition of this obligation for operations and maintenance of the new LRT line as proposed by Metrolinx without any further delay to the RFP process.

WHEREAS, The following motion was introduced Light Rail Transit Sub-Committee January 30, 2017 Report 17-001 at General Issues Committee - February 15, 2017 That staff be directed to report back to the LRT Sub-Committee on a framework for a Community Benefits Agreement focussing on, but not limited to: affordable housing, employment, local procurement and environmental improvement



a) ProjectCo shall be required to contractually recognize that they assume operations as a successor employer pursuant to the Labour Relations Act and therefore enter into a legally enforceable written voluntary recognition agreement with Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 107 for bargaining rights for all ProjectCo LRT employees below the rank of Supervisor employed in the operations and maintenance of Hamilton's LRT.

b) That the Fair Wage Schedule be amended to include the Total Hourly Compensation for all positions set out in Schedule "A" of the collective agreement between the City and Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 107. Totally Hourly Compensation to be determined pursuant to the formula set out in Section 3 of the Fair Wage Policy.

c) That ProjectCo agree to abide by the amended Fair Wage Policy and the amended Fair Wage Schedule.

d) That ProjectCo agree to provide LRT employees all benefits at or above those set out in the collective agreement between the City and Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 107.

e) That, pursuant to section 6 of the OMERS Act, ProjectCo enter into an agreement with the City to provide municipal transit services and that ProjectCo seek status as an OMERS Associated Employer, and that ProjectCo LRT employees be enrolled in OMERS. In the event that ProjectCo is denied status as an Associated Employer, that ProjectCo provide to its employee's pension rights equivalent to OMERS membership.

  1. That Metrolinx confirm that within the Request For Procurement process, that up to 2 representatives from the Hamilton Community Benefits Network be present for the Community Benefits presentations by the qualified bidders for information and to provide community feedback.

Appendix A:

Letter of Understanding with the City of Hamilton Re:

Alternative Service Delivery New Services:

"A Request for Proposal (RFP) for a private contract for the provision of transit service will be prepared by HSR management. HSR management will prepare an internal bid for provision of the service together with the ATU based on:

(a) Wage - maximum Step 1 Bus Operator rate and a 70-hour bi-weekly guarantee; 88 (b) (c)

Benefits - "X" % of Step I Bus Operator rate; All other costs including overheads, maintenance, capital depreciation, etc., costed at -"X" % of Step 1 Bus Operator rate. The internal ATU bid will be sealed and opened publicly with private sector submissions. Award of the bid will be solely on the basis of lowest cost with the understanding that if the ATU bid is within 10% of the lowest bid, ATU will be awarded the contract. (3) (2)

Conversion of Existing Services to Alternate Service Delivery

It is agreed that any conversion of existing fixed route conventional transit services from the date of ratification of a Collective Agreement will be exclusively ATU work. The new service will be posted for bid to current Operators. The wage rate and bi-weekly guarantee will be that of the Operator who successfully bids this work. Additional duties may be assigned to the Operator as determined necessary by Management such as the use of a cellular phone to take bookings without access to wage premium(s).


In addition, the Company further agrees that the Engineering Maintenance Division will not contract out more than 10% of its annual gross operating budget as approved each year by City Council. Warranty and capital projects are excluded from this clause. This letter will remain in effect for the term of the agreement. Note: It is agreed that unconventional transit service shall include demand responsive service, community bus service and flexible routing bus service.


All conventional fixed route transit services within the Urban Transit Service Area will be assigned to AT.U. Local 107

Text of Councillor Johnson's Notice of Motion

Following is the text of Councillor Johnson' Notice of Motion

General Issues Committee: December 18, 2017



Operation and Maintenance of the Hamilton Light Rail Transit (LRT) System

WHEREAS our Light Rail Transit drivers ought to be unionized;

WHEREAS Council has an obligation to be fiscally responsible, and

WHEREAS Council has an obligation to build good transit,


(a) That Council respond to the letter from Metrolinx regarding Light Rail Transit operations with a letter endorsing the original, integrated design-build-financeoperate-maintain model as Hamilton's preferred model for Light Rail Transit delivery; and

(b) That Council officially request that Metrolinx co-operate in the unionization of the Light Rail Transit drivers.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.


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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2017 at 14:36:54

See, that would've been a great motion like 8 months ago.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted December 15, 2017 at 14:52:54

I don't like the idea of city council expressly supporting a specific union. Legislating bargaining rights for ATU 107 is effectively no different than legally requiring LRT workers to join the union.

Is there a different union out there that might better represent them? Why shouldn't the workers be given the chance to join - or be represented by - whatever union they want?

Hopefully, including the HCBN won't be a huge deal to Metrolinx. I've always thought that this project could bring a lot of learning opportunities to our community.

In the end I like Clr Johnston's motion the best. Let's get on with it!

Comment edited by ergopepsi on 2017-12-15 14:53:30

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By iancborsuk (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2017 at 15:12:22 in reply to Comment 122271

It's an unnecessary complication to require the workforce go through the entire process of unionisation from scratch as opposed to benefiting from 100+ years of bargaining - plus it would add even more unnecessary delays for Council to not put in this request as the Letter of Understanding is pretty clear. Do we really care to see the ATU 107 challenge the City legally for breaking an agreement?

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted December 15, 2017 at 15:56:18 in reply to Comment 122272

So forcing workers to organize under the ATU banner is preferable to an open process where they can choose their own direction? Personally I wouldn't mind the 'complication' that would bring.

I haven't read the agreement but it would appear that it binds the city in respect to its own transit. The LRT is a provincial system. Is the province also beholden to this agreement with ATU?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2017 at 16:04:30 in reply to Comment 122273

I haven't read the agreement but it would appear that it binds the city in respect to its own transit.

IANAL and this is also the issue I'm unclear on: does LRT, in fact, qualify as a "conversion of existing fixed route conventional transit services" under the auspices of the Letter if Metrolinx owns it and is responsible to design, build, finance and maintain it?

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted December 15, 2017 at 21:02:24 in reply to Comment 122274

I'm not sure I buy the idea the ATU has a legal option here. You would think Metrolinx would have been aware of this early in the planning stage.

Also, what if Metrolinx employees enjoy better pay and/or benefits than HSR workers do? Metrolinx would be getting labour at a discount, thanks to council, by adhering to the ATU's agreements.

This is just not something city council should be interfering with.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted December 16, 2017 at 14:24:59

Hmmm... This is very interesting, because whoever ProjectCo winds up being, ProjectCo is almost certainly already unionized. Is Hamilton City Council telling the workers of ProjectCo to abandon their existing union in favour of ATU Local 107? Suppose those workers don't want to abandon their current union?

For example, suppose Bombardier is chosen to be ProjectCo. Bombardier's public transit operations are already unionized, with the workers being represented by Teamsters Division 660. I have not read their current union contract, but it almost certainly states that new jobs must be posted and existing employees get first crack at them.

However, it is unlikely that all the jobs running Hamilton's LRT will be filled by existing unionized Bombardier employees who already are members of Teamsters Division 660. Bombardier will hire new employees. Since Bombardier is already a union company, those new employees will be automatically enrolled into Teamsters Division 660.

Workers do have a right to take a vote and collectively change what union represents them. However, I consider it somewhat unlikely that either existing or new members of Teamsters Division 660 will take kindly to Hamilton City Council dictating to them what union they should or should not belong to.

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2017-12-16 14:30:55

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By Crispy (registered) | Posted December 17, 2017 at 11:04:06

Metrolinx threw council a big fat peach over the middle of the plate and rather than belt it out of the park for the win, green wants to hit into a game ending triple play. I look forward to not voting for green in the next election.

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