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COMMENT: City pans union for hijacking election; speaks to labour stalemate

City of Castlegar
By City of Castlegar
November 5th, 2014

Ed. Note: This press release was issued Monday night, after CUPE’s delegation to council’s regular meeting, but before CUPE’s public announcement of fullblown-strike action issued this morning:

CUPE 2262, the Union representing city workers in Castlegar has taken to the press to boast about how they dominated the Castlegar & District Chamber All-Candidates Forum to advance their bargaining agenda.

Of the 15 or so questions community members were able to ask in the time allotted, almost half of the questions were asked by CUPE 2262 members or their family members and were directly related to union negotiations with the City of Castlegar.

“The purpose of a candidate forum is to provide voters with an opportunity to learn about and compare candidate positions on public issues in a neutral setting,” says Chief Administrative Officer John Malcolm. “It shows a lack of respect for the democratic process when a group stacks the room and dominates the discussion, exploiting it to achieve their self-seeking aims.”

A month ago, City Council accepted the recommendations of Labour Relations Board mediator David Schaub to resolve the job action and conclude a collective agreement. The Union, however, rejected them. A summary of these recommendations can be found here.

Last week, City Council distributed an Open Memorandumresponding to all the allegations and concerns expressed by the Union in an exhaustive open letter it distributed at the October 6th Council meeting.

“I don’t think the citizens of Castlegar take kindly to the tactics of the Union to use this civic election to advance their union agenda,” says Mayor Chernoff.  “If the Union thinks that this type of political pressure is going to make this Council capitulate to unreasonable demands and neglect our responsibilities to the taxpayers of Castlegar, they are mistaken.”

“Council is united in our support for the mediator’s recommendations. There’s a fair and reasonable offer before the Union of a 6.14 percent wage increase over 4 years with superior benefits in the municipal sector,” says Mayor Chernoff.

“In the meantime, we ask the Union to respect the democratic process, cease using the election to push their own agenda, and understand that there is a process established for bargaining that involves the bargaining teams of the City and the Union.”

The Mediator’s recommendations include a 6.14% wage increase over 4 years, no concessions and all of the generous benefits improvements offered to the Union in the City’s July 15th final offer. These include an increase in extended health benefits coverage 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.

In the case of a full blown strike or lockout, 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. Staff will endeavour to provide prompt customer service to residents, businesses and visitors.

For more information, please visit www.castlegar.ca/strike  or contact:

John Malcolm, Chief Administrative Officer | 250-365-8951

Categories: GeneralOp/EdPolitics

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