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HandyDART update

I took a look in my email box last night, and decided it was time to clean house and do a little round up and review of issues and stories from the last while. So, over today and tomorrow, there will likely be a series of posts so I can tidy up things a bit.

First off, I received an update from one of the striking HandyDART employees who tells me that the union, ATU local 1724,  asked the company- MVT Canadian Bus for binding arbitration, but the company has now rejected that idea.

Striking workers are now asking their riders and the public for support in pressuring Translink to persuade MVT to agree to arbitration.  Because Translink only pays MVT for the trips they actually provide, Translink is actually saving money as the strike continues. And interestingly enough, when you look at how the company operates, it would appear they may have little motivation to settle with the workers, because they don’t even own the HandyDART vehicles or pay the rents on depots – Translink does!  In essence, MVT is only having to continues to pay managers salaries,and doesn’t have to worry about lost money on idle vehicles or empty properties. 

The parent company, California based, MV Transportation Inc, bills itself as the largest provider of paratransit in the U.S.



  1. You gave part of the story,the ATU GAVE UP the option of binding arbitration at the Labour Board hearings.Now that the union and its members have backed themselfs in to a no win corner,they want someone to bail them out! For the work they do they are grossly over paid!You all should be ashamed,Al Watt take credit for this strike,by misleading your members and the public!


  2. For the work they do they are grossly over paid!

    The above is a pretty sweeping statement, especially since you don’t provide any idea what you mean. So I can only assume they are being paid over $8.00 per hour. Personally the folks I think are grossly overpaid are folks like Lara Dauphinee, Patrick Kinsella and Ken Dobell, not to mention all the folks we elects to very occasionally go to Victoria at our expense!

    Handy-Dart here in the Hurtland is managed a little different, but I know a driver and he puts in LONG days everyday, driving many miles through blizzardsand other challenging conditions, for what I consider average wages, at best!


  3. I can’t speak to what D. Elliot says about giving up binding arbitration, but I do know this.

    These drivers take care of our elderly, our sick our disabled and our dying. They take chemo patients, dialysis patients, people who are wheelchair bound and unable to assist in any manner to get on that vehicle.

    They are not just sitting in a chair driving and opening doors. Grossly overpaid? I think not. This companies parent company, MV Transportation Inc, has quite the history in the states,of submitting the absolute lowest bids to get the jobs. What happens afterwards is well documented in news reports from Chicago, Washington DC, and California, to name a few. One report called the company the Wal-mart of paratransit.,15353

    and legal filings :

    Tyee has a great opinion article up, by a former HandyDART driver:


  4. D Elliott, on November 12th, 2009 at 1:01 pm Said:
    This must be one of gordo’s lame brain idiots to mouth off about something he knows absolutely nothing about!
    When was HD SOLD?
    I’ve used HD for 28yrs and these people who drive us to our destinations may it be medical, shopping, recreation, etc these HD drivers get out to let people on/off at every stop


  5. BTW D’Elliot – I wouldn’t accuse anyone of being “grossly overpaid” until I knew they were making more than what the Sneer that Walks like a Man – Colon Hansen – refers to as the average wage in British Columbia or in excess of $22.00 per hour.

    Of course if you average in Lord Gord and his cronies and gal pals (like Patrick Kinsella who pulled down $6,000 per month for a couple years or more just on his part time “moonlighting” job doing secret stuff for (or to) BC Rail during the rigged so called auction of what used to be OUR railroad) against all the minimum wage workers the average (mean) might be $22.00, but the median value would be MUCH closer to $8.00!

    Then of course there is the lovely Lara pulling down 1/2 mil per annum for her double dipping TWO jobs and traveling all over the world at the side of our great leader (and I’ll bet she hasn’t had to purchase an airline ticket or pay a limo/cab fare in this millenium)!

    Then there is our own visiting Yankee Doodle German, Mr. Hahn, who could undoubtably even make our BC Ferries service even worse (and even more vulnerable to private competitors) if we only loosened up the taxpayer’s purse and doubled his renumeration to $2,000,000 – Hell if we gave him TEN million for just a year, perhaps people could learn to swim to Vancouver Island.

    I’m pretty sure my local handy dart driver gets paid better since locally they aren’t run by MVT – but I doubt if he could afford to buy his own home in Vancouver. This time of year he is on the road from before light until after dark EVERY DAY (of course he isn’t on the road when he is helping elderly or disabled people and their stuff on and off his bus).

    According to people(?) like da Elliot, we can’t pay people like Hahn, Kinsella, Dobell, Paul Taylor etc. enough – yet for everybody else (like folks who actually do stuff) anything over $8.00 per hour is excessive!


  6. Great comments about the wages. So true. Likewise the HandyDART workers…they do harder work, yet get paid less than conventional bus drivers.

    As for BC Ferries…I liked them better before Hahn,


  7. For D. Elliot. First of all the president is Dave Watt, not Al.
    Secondly, yes it is true that under the Labour code section 55, Dave signed an agreement not go that route. That means he agreed to not force the issue. It did not mean that the union could ot ask MVT to go there with them.

    Currently the union asked MVT to join them at the table and be a part of the process. MVT has refused. Take note, that MVT makes it sound like the ATU is breaking its agreement. Take note…The ATU has not gone to the labour board to invoke section 55.

    Please get your facts straight before you slam the president again.


  8. wayne, HD was not sold. More like sold out.

    Actually, the HandyDART is still a part of the transit system here in the lower mainland. what happened is that TransLink gave the management of the HandyDART to an American for profit company.
    Profits generated by our Canadian tax dollars that are now going south.

    Count your blessings that you don’t depend on the service any more. You would not be happy with it since MVT took over.


  9. The BC liaRs graceful wonderful touch with labour relations is shining again this morning. I hear on the CBC that down in the Lower Vainland they are advising folks NOT to call 911 unless it is a real emergency, as many ambulances are out of service due to late notice of crew members absences (maybe the EMTs needed the H1N1 vaccine that went to hockey players and are incapacitated).

    After nine months on strike, during which time service was available at all times thanks to essential service rulings, now that genius boy Falcon has forced everybody back to work, you folks down where all the money goes are getting a taste of what it is like here in the Hurtland regularly.

    BC liaRs rules for labour harmony

    1. Don’t negotiate in good faith, EVER

    2. There is no contract that can’t be torn up

    3. Don’t listen to the U.N. or even Canadian courts

    4. Anyone wanting more than $8.00 per hour is greedy

    (actually $8.00 is a half day’s wages for an EMT on call in the Hurtland )

    5. Have nothing done here if it can be done in the Ontario, the US, Germany or China.

    I’ll never understand why people elect folks to run government whose ideology is that government is BAD and then expects them to manage government well!


  10. Thanks for the updates , Urban Rider! Seems to me, that an awful lot of BC money is heading out of BC these days.

    Makes me wonder if that’s the best way to keep BC Strong…


  11. Laila, this recently appeared on a FaceBook account. I felt it worth sharing …

    British Columbians have cause to be angry with what is transpiring in the HandyDart strike. Sadly, too many of us, pre-occupied with pressing events in our own lives, don’t really know the issues. If we did, I suspect that we would feel a collective shame at how this service has been allowed to deteriorate, and we would demand action from our elected representatives.
    There are three reasons why British Columbians need to get engaged in this dispute. First, a society is judged by the manner in which we look after those who a generation ago looked after us. Second, society is judged by way we treat those who, for reasons beyond their control, need help and special services to assist them in living productive and inclusive lives. And, third, it is judged by way we look after the sick and infirm.
    As a society we are failing on all three counts by ignoring the HandyDart strike.
    There is something seriously wrong in a society that pays the guy who picks up your garbage and hauls it to the dump more than a person who, with care and patience, picks up your frail, aged mother, or your sister who needs dialysis, or your handicapped brother, and makes sure they get to their medical appointment and home safely. Similarly, there is no rational explanation why a transit bus driver in West Vancouver should make, on average, $8 dollars more an hour to drive a scheduled route than an individual earns who picks up passengers at the doorstep and not only transports the passenger, but helps him or her on and off the bus, keeps an eye out for possible medical issues while in transit, sees him or her safely home, and in some cases cleans up after them. And yet, wage is not the critical issue for most drivers in this dispute.
    To be sure, the drivers are angry that their pension and benefits will be removed and replaced with an RRSP and self subscribed benefit schemes. Who wouldn’t be angry? An RRSP is not a pension plan, and the provision of benefits as part of an employment contract is something that millions of Canadian workers enjoy. It is also a fundamental part of the Canadian commitment to accessible and affordable health and dental care. But then, one wouldn’t expect an American company to understand any of that, which brings me to the second point of concern.
    The Translink Board awarded the management contract for HandyDart, which is worth $113 million of your tax dollars, to the highest bidder. That bidder was an American for-profit company called MVT Canadian Bus. This company has become known as the Walmart of transit companies. It is profit-driven, service-lean and the eight managers in the United States keep a close eye on the company bottom line. In some economic sectors, squeezing deliverables to increase profitability would be a worthy goal, but not taxpayer-funded, specialized, public transit services for the vulnerable in our society. In the past, the HandyDart services were run by non-profit societies within our communities, and any surplus or profit would flow back to the society, keeping your tax dollars at home. MVT Canadian Bus takes our money south of the border.
    There is a growing trend in this province, supported and encouraged by the Campbell government, to put a new and very different priority to the spending of our tax dollars. More and more “crown corporations” are being hived off to become pseudo-private corporations, with recruited American CEOs who enjoy huge wages fully paid for by our tax dollars. They bring with them an American corporate culture that pays the top management first and is prepared to trim service to afford it. Witness the ridership bonus in the MVT contract with Translink that builds in financial reward by keeping riders on the bus longer. If you are a dialysis patient, the last thing you need after treatment is to be kept on the bus for additional hours, and yet that is exactly what is happening.
    This situation is a shameful example of the slow change in the priorities of the provincial government, and yet with a complacent population and a weak, silent opposition, this is just the beginning.
    With the Olympics and Paralympics a few short weeks away, expect that the government will legislate the HandyDart drivers back to work. Expect also that they will do to these drivers what they did to the Ambulance service, namely, legislate the last offer by the Employer, and by so doing, cause this service to erode even further.
    These men and women need and deserve our support. Contact your MLA and demand that he or she rise up and speak out in favour of a full and fair binding arbitration that will take into account the real issues of this dispute. Write to the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition, but above all, educate yourself. When you do, I am sure you will be as angry and concerned as I am that we not lose this valuable service. Our voices together may help to solve this issue, and avoid the collective shame that doing nothing will invoke.

    Gordon Wilson is in business and is the former Leader of the BC Liberal Party and has served in government.


  12. Thank you Suzanne, I was actually just emailed this by a handyDart employee as well. Gordon Wilson has it posted on his Facebook page. Seems like if I can see the issue, and Gordon Wilson can see the issue, Translink should be able to see the issue here.

    New post updated on the main page- click on the HOME link above.


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