The City of Castlegar and CUPE Local 2262 have officially come to an agreement over strike issues and signed a new six-year deal, ending the strike.
Consistent issues had been around since before August 2014, and while an overtime ban was launched mid-August, full-fledged strike action was not taken until November 8. The strike was the first of its kind in Castlegar in more than 60 years.
The new agreement is retroactive to February 2013 and includes a 10.3 per cent total wage increase over six years. Specifically it provides a 35 cent-per-hour increase for the first year followed by annual wage increases.
It also includes a 15 hour per month cap on city paid time for union investigation and settling of union grievances, improved benefits, an expedited grievance review process. As well, the two parties have agreed to take action on outstanding grievances and participation in a BC Labour Relations Board sponsored relationship enhancement program.
Job security language as recommended originally by the mediator in November was placed into a Letter of Understanding to the Collective Agreement.
Mayor Lawrence Chernoff said, “I thank council for its resolve in achieving a deal that is fair and respectful to the employees and to the residents and businesses of Castlegar.”
“We’re happy to have our workers back, especially in light of the recent weather. We recognize that this has been difficult on our employees, citizens and business community. I am pleased that council kept in view the best interests of our community over other considerations,” he added.
Chernoff continued, “I can tell you, there were some personal attacks that I wasn’t happy about, but that’s not what I’m looking at now, we’re looking to move forward into the future. It’s always a learning experience. It took more time than anyone thought it would but it was handled fair and honestly and at the end I think we came out with an equitable contract for our employees.”
CUPE Local 2262 president Leford Lafayette said union members are looking forward to getting back to work keeping Castlegar city services running safely and smoothly.
At Monday’s city council meeting Chris Barlow, Director of Transportation and Civic Works said workers were out at 3 a.m. plowing and salting the roads and will continue to do so to make driving safer for everyone in Castlegar.
CUPE 2262 members do a wide range of jobs including keeping roads and sidewalks clear, maintaining public parks and outdoor rinks, the water treatment plant and services for the public at city hall.