Thursday, November 26, 2009

Groups representing people with disabilities demand end to HandyDart labour dispute

The strike by HandyDart drivers who are members of the Amagamated Transit Union local 1724 has now been on for a month over concession demands from the new U.S.-based employer MVT.

HandyDart provides bus service to people with disabilities who are unable to access traditional transit.

HandyDart drivers were supported yesterday at a rally by delegates at the BC Federation of Labour convention.

Late yesterday the
BC Coalition of People with Disabilities, the BC Association for Community Living and the Social Planning and Research Council of BC together called on all parties, including TransLink - which contracts the work to MVT - to resolve the dispute and resume service

The following is their news release:

* * * * *

Community Agencies call for Immediate Resolution to HandyDART Strike

The BC Association for Community Living (BCACL), BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD) and the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC BC) are calling for an immediate end to the HandyDART strike in Metro Vancouver.

“We are extremely concerned about the impact that this service interruption is having on
people with disabilities and their families in our communities,” said Faith Bodnar, Executive Director of BCACL.

The Lower Mainland’s HandyDART service is only available to people who need it for kidney dialysis or cancer treatment. The thousands of people with disabilities and seniors who rely on HandyDART to get to work, volunteer, attend medical appointments, go shopping, or visit family and friends have been stranded now for over four weeks.

“HandyDART is crucial for people with disabilities and seniors’ ability to live with
independence in the community,” said Jane Dyson, Executive Director of the BCCPD. “Most people who use HandyDART live on very low incomes, cannot afford to take taxis and have very limited transportation options available to them.”

ATU, the HandyDART staff’s union, has asked MVT, the company that operates
HandyDART, to agree to binding arbitration. MVT has rejected this proposal.

“This service interruption must be resolved as quickly as possible,” said SPARC BC Manager Emese Szucs. “We are urging MVT, ATU and TransLink to come together so that this very serious situation ends now.”

“People will become increasingly socially isolated and this is a great worry to us. With the service interruption having no end in sight, our organizations are concerned that it will drag on into the holiday season. This strike must end now,” said Dyson.


Anonymous said...

Unrelated but important:

Suppression of Free Press:

U.S. journalist grilled at Canada border crossing
Officials demanded to know what she would say publicly about 2010 Olympics

Unknown said...

Hello, I'm a Handydart driver from White Rock. Obviously I'm biased here so please forgive me for that. I really want to say to all who will listen that, ATU, our bargaining union on behalf of me and approximately 500 other employees of MVT American Bus (not a typo) were courted by this company as they needed to fill the jobs that we previously held.. They told me in a letter that they hoped I'd come on board because they're employees usually have better wages and better benefits... Now they will not come and bargain. My representative, Amalgamated Transit Union, with my and others blessings decided to go back to work and take whatever a third party deemed fair. If that party decided that we shouldn't have a pension plan, seniority, guaranteed hours for full time employees, and benefits for casual workers, then we would have to accept that. We were willing. MVT rejected this. We employees were willing to have Binding arbitration. A arbitrator decides. So why did MVT reject this? We love our clients... You have no idea how much we love them... I'm crying as I write this now... I love my clients.. I respect you Mr Tielman and so I trust you to be fair. Thanks, Bill.

DPL said...

I use handydart here in Victoria, for any trip more than a few blocks. I asked one of the drivers yesterday how long he had been working for the system and when was their collective due to expire? A lot of years. Not till next year but in his opinion they will be going through the same kind of crap. Trying to get any one with a car to drive some one needing a ride to one of the city hospitals is basically impossible and the surface parking lot went as the big tower is being built. I doubt it will ever return. So if a person needs a ride to that hospital the only choice is handydart. I see the Handidarts at the local shopping center , the rec. center and of course outside medical buildings. without those drivers, a lot of folks would be housebound. It's even difficult to book a trip even with the 14 days in advance maximum. The service is absolutly necessary in our view. arbitration is the way to go .

Carolyn said...

I join with the BCCPD, BCACL, and SPARC BC calling on MV to accept binding arbitration in order to end this strike and stop the social isolation of HandyDart clients.

Anonymous said...

Notice all agencies must cut back or continue to be run underfunded but the few keep getting there blackmail wages doubled,nothing surprise's me anymore,funny how there releasing pertinent info on the budget today oh ya,silly me the ledge is closed and its Friday afternoon!!!!!

Beryle said...

I have been a HandyDart customer for two years and use it to get to my part-time job. Being partially-abled I am able to work four 5-hour shifts. But I live a long ways away from work. And I have to climb steep hills with a cane to get to regular buses, after which I have to struggle to stand. So, now I am forced to take taxis to work $25-$27 dollars one way. Since MVT and the Union cannot come to an agreement, SOMEONE has to settle the dispute and get the buses running again. If not for me and other partially abled who go to work or school, then most certainly for the elderly and completely disabled. We need to get places too. Doctor's appointments most urgently, but groceries, visits to family - and in this Season, Christmas shopping. If no one cares about us, surely they care about the merchants who will lose big if Grandma and Grandad can't get out to find gifts for the grandkids. Surely, someone out there can do something to end this impasse. It may not matter to you, but it can be life or death to us.

Anonymous said...

Who's MVT? And what is their relation to Translink, in particular to the former Translink CEO Tom Prendergast. And find out the true reasons why Translink would allow this dispute to go on. You will find out all the true reasons @
Please remember that we're strongly against this For-Profit American Corporation to continue to advantage on our most vulnerable Canadian citizens and the workers whom have helped to built HandyDart for nearly three decades. They did not lose their contract in Seattle for no reasons. MVT is a greedy and ruthless corporation that only see the clients and workers as numbers.

Anonymous said...

It is time for this to end!! MVT needs to be reapectable to their employees. Their history of turnover of employees in the past shows that they are not fair with their workers. Handydart drivers are dedicated to their passengers. They go the extra mile to serve their clients. MVT seems to not care about this but seems to just want to get the work done in order to make a profit. This profit goes to the US anyways. If they don't show some honor and respect to their employees with decent wages and benefits they won't be able to keep the good drivers they have now. This job requires expertise in handling out disabled public. Lets see them get a fair deal!!

Anonymous said...

This is disgraceful!! MVT- wake up and smell the roses. Arbitration is the way to go and the time is NOW!!

Anonymous said...

My elderly parents are in separate long term care facilities - one with Alzheimer's in George Derby Centre in Burnaby, one in Brookside in Langley. As my mother is wheelchair bound and we are incapable of transporting her - she relies on HandyDart or wheelchair taxis to get her around. With HandyDart not running she is left with wheelchair taxis as transportation. In order to visit her husband, it entails a taxi ride which costs $75.00 each way. This is a $150.00 cost to visit her husband - an expense she can ill afford. Therefore, since the strike she has been unable to visit her husband. At their ages, we are fearful that one of them may pass away without having been able to visit their very special spouse. It is breaking our hearts to see this happen and we urge the parties involved to "GET BACK TO WORK" anyway possible. I would even support a legislated return to work if this is the only way possible to have this matter resolved.