City employees reject contract offer

Unionized city of Campbell River employees have rejected the last offer presented to CUPE Local 401

Unionized city of Campbell River employees have rejected the last offer presented to CUPE Local 401.

During a vote arranged by the provincial Labour Relations Board, 77 per cent of employees who cast a ballot voted no to an offer that included wage increases of two per cent in 2014 (retroactive to January 1), 1.5 per cent in 2015, 1.5 per cent in 2016 and two per cent in 2017 (for a total of seven per cent over four years).

CUPE workers have already voted 88.3 per cent in favour of strike action, with 137 of the 161 permanent and auxiliary employees casting a vote, owever, the union has yet to implement a full strike.

City Manager Andy Laidlaw said the city is on notice.

“While we have received strike notice and the union has implemented a ban on overtime work, at this time, we do not have details from the union on whether there will be job action related to this vote,” Laidlaw said.

In the event of a strike, the city says it will focus work efforts on providing essential services such as water, sewer, public safety and emergency response.

“If a strike occurs, people can expect that facilities would be picketed and some would be closed, with related programs cancelled,” Laidlaw added.

The city will continue to provide updates regarding any change in service through news releases and postings on its website.

“We are sorry for any disruption caused by this labour dispute and look forward to resuming full service as soon as possible,” Laidlaw said.

CUPE members have been without a contract since Dec. 31 but talks were kept to a minimum until recently while the union gave the city time to deal with the Catalyst Paper situation.

“We have now been to the negotiating table 10 times, twice with a mediator, but the city is still insisting on concessions,” Gurrie said in a press release.

“While we are disappointed to have to take the strike mandate route, we see no alternative at this time.”

Recent settlements in other communities on Vancouver Island have included wage increases averaging 2.5-3 per cent per year in three-and- four year agreements.

Gurrie says the union has set up two more meetings with a mediator for later this month in hopes of restarting meaningful talks with the city.

The Campbell River municipal workers provide quality public services as inside and outside workers at city hall, the airport, recreation centres, public works, waterworks and sewage treatment and RCMP.