A 72-hour strike notice of a full withdrawal of service has been issued by CUPE 2262 members working for the City of Castlegar.
CUPE 2262 president Leford Lafayette said that following Monday night’s presentation to city council, it is clear that elected officials are not focused on getting back to the bargaining table and reaching a fair deal with city workers.
Lafayette said CUPE has attempted to limit the inconvenience to the public as much as possible.
“We do not want to be in a position to take full-scale strike action, with disruption for residents and local businesses. But given the lack of response by our current mayor and council, we don’t feel like we have other options,” said Lafayette.
Saturday, November 8 will mark the beginning of the strike with picket lines appearing at city work sites and CUPE members absent from their jobs.
Key outstanding issues include job security and concessions that CUPE believes would undercut their ability to properly represent members when disputes arise.
“We do not want the managers doing our jobs,” Lafayette said.
The union has also raised concerns about the City hiring more managers and contracting out services
CUPE 2262 represents 34 members who work for the City of Castlegar. The current agreement expired in February 2013. No bargaining has taken place since a second round of mediated talks failed to find a resolution in September. The union has been engaged in limited job action in the form of a ban on overtime since August 19, 2014.
In response to the strike notice, Mayor Chernoff had this to say, “We have bargained in good faith and at considerable cost to the taxpayer over the past year and a half. The Mediator requested by the Union made recommendations for a generous and reasonable settlement, which the City accepted and the Union rejected. The Union still wants more.”
Labour Relations Board Mediator David Schaub’s recommendations include a 6.14% wage increase over 4 years, no concessions and all of the benefits improvements offered to the Union in the City’s July 15th final offer. These benefits include an increase in extended health benefits from $1000 a year to $1500 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.
On the topic of job security Chief Administrative Officer John Malcolm said, “Today the Union is saying their key issue is job security. We frankly don’t see job security as a live issue since the City hasn’t laid off a full-time regular employee in over 20 years and we are a growing City.”
Residents are advised that 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. Residents are further encouraged to check the City’s information page on the CUPE strike at www.castlegar.ca/strike for public service and bargaining updates.