City responds to CUPE's 72-hours strike notice
In the same week that Local 2262 requested the City to return to the bargaining table, Union Employees have issued 72 hour strike notice.
“The city is concerned that the Union continues to represent that it is the city that needs to come back the bargaining table when it was the union that booked out the mediator, will not vote on the final offer or provide a counter offer,” said Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) John Malcolm. “Then the Union serves strike notice while there are back-and-forth talks currently happening with City and Union negotiators.”
The city’s final offer includes a wage increase of 5.75 per cent 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.
“We are still unsure of the source of the union’s concern about job security since the uity has not laid off a full-time employee in well over 20 years and the current Collective Agreement protects job loss from contracting out. In fact, when faced with a major tax shortfall caused by a major employer withholding their taxes, city council made a strong statement of security to its staff by not laying off any employees or reducing hours,” said Chief 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-per-cent wage increase since 2008.
“It is unfortunate we have arrived at this point but it is an option available to the union. We are still hopeful that a deal can be done,” Malcolm said. “We will do all we can to limit any inconvenience to the residents of Castlegar.”
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