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City labour woes linger
By Betsy Kline
There is still no agreement between the City of Castlegar and CUPE Local 2262. As a way of further stating their case, Castlegar city workers showed up in force at Monday night’s city council meeting. The workers were accompanied by CUPE Communications Representative, Murray Bush.
Leaflets handed out by the union stated, “Our goal is not to disrupt services but to press city hall to bargain in good faith for a fair and reasonable collective agreement.” Local CUPE President Leford Lafayette stated, “We want to get out to residents that we do not want to strike. Contact mayor and council and ask them to look at giving our workers a fair collective agreement.”
Mr. Lafayette stated the outstanding issues were contracting out, management doing bargaining unit work and some concessions. He said, “I am not attaching a timeline. There are some time limits; we have to set 72 hour strike notice before too long. But we are hoping the employer will get back to the table.”
According to Lafayette the CUPE Local 2262 is “…willing and ready to return to the table for meaningful talks at any time and we look forward to hearing from your bargaining committee.”
The city would like to see the union respect the fact that it is funded by the taxpayers and has a responsibility to them. Castlegar’s Chief Administrative Officer, John Malcolm, stated in a press release, “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. Our current offer balances the priorities of taxpayers with the needs of employees for a fair and reasonable contract.”
If the employer’s final offer is accepted, it will mean the city works will have received a 22.25 per cent wage increase since 2008. The final offer includes a retroactive 5.75 per cent wage increase over four years, increases to extended health benefits, the optical plan and meal allowances. Also included are improvements to vacation and banked time carry-over, grievance handling and labour-management relations. Details of the city’s final offer can be found at www.castlegar.ca/strike.
The city has offered reassurance that in the case of a strike, all city facilities including city hall, civic works, the fire hall and RCMP will remain open.