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City and union no closer to contract today

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
August 6th, 2014

Despite both parties’ expressed desire to reach an agreement and contract, CUPE Local 2622 and the City of Castlegar’s dueling press releases yesterday seem to indicate an ongoing lack of consensus.

(To read the City’s press release, click here, and to read the union’s, scroll to the bottom of this page).

Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff said in an interview today that city management are the ones at the table, and he trusts them to reach an equitable solution.

“What we’re offering is spelled out in our press release,” Chernoff said. “I’m a little mesmerized at what they’re asking for that we haven’t delivered on.

“Beyond that, I don’t think negotiations should be conducted through the press,” he added. “We know it’s an arduous job, but we’d like to see a contract as much as anyone.”

Meanwhile, CUPE president Leford Lafayette said he, too, wants a resolution.

“We’re doing everything we can to not go on strike – we don’t want to inconvenience the public,” he said. “We feel we can get a collective agreement if the employer will negotiate.”

Both parties said their perception was that the other party was the one to step away from the table to begin with, and neither was able to say, at the time of this posting, if and when negotiations would begin again.

“I’ll be having a meeting tonight with my staff rep to discuss next steps,” said Lafayette.

When asked if it was coincidence or calculation on the part of CUPE that the threat of a looming strike is coming so soon in advance of a municipal election cycle, he said the one has nothing to do with the other.

“We’ve been bargaining in good faith since July of last year,” he said. “We’re looking to get back to the table – the employer is, in essence, the one in the driver’s seat.

“What we’re looking for is job security, for the employer to get back to the table, and the removal of concessions from the table.”

The city has provided a link to the final offer staff presented to the union http://www.castlegar.ca/pdfs/employer_final_offer.pdf, as well as a document from Stats Canada indicating the average annual percentage change in the Consumer Price Index (or rate of inflation): 2013 (-0.1%); 2012 (1.1%); 2011 (2.4%); 2010 (1.3%); 2009 (0.0%).

The CUPE press release reads as follows:

“The CUPE Local 2262 workers who keep City of Castlegar services running are one step closer to taking job action.  The Local is holding strike training for its members this week. 

“CUPE 2262 President Leford Lafayette says his 34 members are extremely frustrated.  “Despite being in bargaining for a new contract for more than a year, City negotiators have repeatedly refused to seriously address our outstanding issues,” he explains.

“’So far, the City has refused to discuss concerns about loss of work, has been unwilling to take concessions off the table and has even proposed a lower wage offer than in other Kootenay communities,’  says Lafayette.  The two sides have met several times since the last contract expired in July 2013.

“The lack of movement on the part of the employer prompted an historic strike vote on May 22 – the first ever in the union local’s 60-year history.  CUPE members were also very upset when City management hand-delivered a package containing misinformation on the negotiations to employees’ homes just one day after mediated talks broke down on July 15.  No new talks have been scheduled.

“’City management should be trying to bring the temperature down and work towards an equitable settlement with their employees,’ says CUPE National Representative Lori Sutherland.  ‘We want a fair and respectful contract so we can focus on serving the people of Castlegar – the last thing we want is a disruption to important public services.’

“While the union is in a legal position to strike, it will still provide 72-hour notice before commencing any strike action.”

 

 

 

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