City issues release re: possible pending strike
Ed Note: The following is a press release issued by the City of Castlegar:
After over a year of contract negotiations with its unionized CUPE 2262 employees, including two days of Labour Relations Board mediated talks, CUPE booked out the mediator and refused to take the City of Castlegar’s final offer to a vote of the membership. CUPE is in a legal position to strike after serving 72-hours strike notice. The collective agreement expired in February 2013.
The City’s final offer includes a wage increase of 5.75% over four years, no concessions, and numerous monetary and language improvements for employees. Most notably, City employees are offered superior benefits in the municipal sector such as an increase in extended health benefits coverage from $1,000 a year to $1,500 a year for paramedical services over the course of the agreement as well as optical care coverage rising from $400 to $600 every two years upon ratification.
City of Castlegar’s Final Offer at a Glance (one-page) – July 16, 2014
“The Union has been holding the spectre of strike over the City’s head for too long. This is demoralizing for staff, disruptive to the City and a costly process for taxpayers. It is no way to advance labour relations or the public interest,” says Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) John Malcolm.
The City’s proposed wage increase is in line with recent public sector settlements, year over year cost of living increases and maintains the base labourer rate as one of the highest in the province. If the City’s offer is accepted, city workers in Castlegar will have received a 22.25% wage increase since 2008.
“Our superior wages, benefits and working conditions are primary reasons why applications for entry level jobs at the City attract 250 plus applicants,” says Malcolm. “We value and respect our employees and expect the Union to appreciate and respect that the City is, after all, funded by the taxpayers of Castlegar.
“Our strong financial standing is a result of years of prudent budgeting and spending by Council and staff and a reflection of the priorities and direction offered by the people of Castlegar,” says Malcolm. “Our current offer balances the priorities of taxpayers with the needs of employees for a fair and reasonable contract. It’s our hope that cooler heads will prevail in the Union and that a contract can be achieved without job action.”
In the case of a strike, all city facilities, including City Hall, Civic Works, the Fire Hall and RCMP will remain open and service will continue to be provided by non-unionized staff. Staff will endeavour to provide prompt customer service to residents, businesses and visitors.
For more information, please visit www.castlegar.ca/strike