Potential GRT strike: What you need to know

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Seneca Velling
VP Operations and Finance
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 15:45

UPDATE: On January 19, Unifor Local 4304, the union of the dispatchers and transit operators of Grand River Transit, voted to reject the deal reached by their bargaining committee and Grand River Transit. Though negotiations will continue, unless a deal is reached, service disruptions will begin on Tuesday, January 21. Our article below has been updated where required.

As the providers of your Universal Transit Pass Program (UPass), we wanted to make you aware of the potential for significant disruptions in your Grand River Transit (GRT) services. GRT's operators, dispatchers, fleet mechanics and service attendants, who are unionized under UNIFOR Local 4304, are prepared to strike. If enacted, this will take effect Tuesday, January 21 and may disrupt your transit to UWaterloo and within KW.  

What’s affected? 

The following services will be adversely impacted by the labour dispute:  

  • GRT Busing (regular); 

  • iExpress (express);  

  • Bus Plus Service; and 

  • MobilityPLUS (accessibility). 

While the ION is expected to remain active, it may experience delays due to volume from the closure of other routes and the possibility of protests taking place on the tracks themselves. Please be aware of these potential disruptions when considering your route. 

Pending the union’s vote this evening, the strike is expected to impact all students at all campuses within the Region of Waterloo (main campus, Cambridge, and Kitchener). You can find more information and alternative routes on the Region of Waterloo website.  

What we’re working on 

We have worked with the University of Waterloo administration to send out communication to all instructors, making them aware of a potential strike, but recommend you contact them directly should this affect your ability to get to class. 

WUSA continues to advocate that transit be considered an essential service to help prevent future disruptions during labour disputes. If you’re interested in joining that discussion, you can find us in the SLC MPR from 12:30-4:30 p.m. 

Resources and alternative arrangements 

Those with 8:30 a.m. classes are especially encouraged to check online for the latest updates. We will continue to keep you informed through our social channels @yourwusa.  

We encourage those impacted by this potential strike to consider the University of Waterloo Rideshare, look into alternatives as suggested on UW’s Sustainability website, or access the Student Life Centre commuting resources, found online. 

The GRT strike may prevent some students with permanent and temporary disabilities from being able to get to and from campus. As such, students who live in the Region of Waterloo, and who are unable to drive or walk to and from campus as a result of their permanent or temporary disability may be reimbursed for the cost of taking a cab to and from home to campus (including the Kitchener and Cambridge satellite campuses). Students who are registered with AccessAbility Services who are approved riders for the Student Access Van and the accessible transportation services (city cab) can submit their City Cabs taxi receipts to AccessAbility Services for reimbursement during the strike. Students with permanent or temporary disabilities (e.g., broken leg) who are not registered with AccessAbility Services may contact AccessAblity Services as soon as possible to register with the office and become eligible for this reimbursement.  

We thank you for your understanding and patience as we work through this.