The labour dispute between the city and CUPE workers continues to remain unresolved and the possibility of an escalation of job action appears imminent.
Local CUPE 2262 President Leford Lafayette and a group of workers presented Mayor Chernoff and city council with what they called a letter of clarification right before the start of Monday’s council meeting.
Lafayette stated, “Strike action is realistic. The time frame depends on council’s reaction.”
Lafayette explained to the press that the workers felt council was not aware as to why the union has put an overtime ban in place. “We want to make it clear in writing, so they know why we are here on strike. We are trying to protect the jobs of our people.”
The contentious issue revolves around language in the contract the union feels would allow management to do what is now union work. Lafayette further stated, “If the employer is serious about getting us back to work, give us the language that other people have in their contracts.”
The two parties met with Labour Relations Board appointed mediator David Schaub in September.
Council voted to accept the mediator’s recommendations on September 30. However, the union voted to reject the recommendations.
Mayor Chernoff stated in a press release, “We are disappointed that the union has rejected the recommendations of this professional and independent mediator. The mediator’s deal keeps City of Castlegar employees among the highest paid in the region with top of the line benefits in the province. We have to hold the line somewhere.”
The mediator’s recommendations included a 6.14 per cent wage increase over four years, no concessions and the same benefit improvements that were included in the city’s July 15 final offer. Chief administrative officer John Malcolm stated, “We have put a fair and respectful offer to our staff… The actions of the union are demoralizing for staff, disruptive to the city and costly for taxpayers. We have bargained in good faith and will take whatever action is necessary to ensure this doesn’t go on forever.”