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Morale high on picket lines, outstanding issues remain

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
November 14th, 2014

Despite unseasonably chilly weather early in the week, morale on the city worker picket line hasn’t cooled, according to CUPE 2262 union president Leford Lafayette.

“I think moral is pretty high,” said Lafayette, adding members see picketing for job security as fighting for a good cause. “We have people from as far away as Edmonton and Kelowna joining us – support we didn’t expect.”

He also said members of the public are stopping by to ask questions and dropping off donations of coffee, donuts, hot soup, etc.

With 34 union members typically picketing in four-hour shifts (“Although many of us stay longer,” Lafayette said), there’s usually a healthy presence in front of City Hall.

When asked if the end of the election will see any change in union strategy, Lafayette said, “No, it won’t. We’re still looking for a collective agreement. This is about job security and giving concessions. Indeed, there have been no layoffs, but they’ve done that (through attrition) by hiring more management to do the work.”

When asked what, exactly, he means by ‘job security’, Lafayette said they brought a complaint to the city through a national representative that a member of senior city management entered a lunchroom and told union members that from then on, management would be doing their work.

“John Malcolm said, in part of the city’s response, ‘You have nothing in your contract to prevent us from doing that,’” Lafayette said.

As for whether the union will do as the city asked and approach the mediator again, Lafayette said they already have.

“We are currently in talks with the mediator,” he said. “But it takes two to get to a resolve. If one is talking to the mediator and the other isn’t, it’s hard to come to a resolve.”

Finally, when asked whether the union will be maintaining any kind of visibility at the Complex during voting for the 2014 civic election, Lafayette offered an unequivocal ‘no’.

“We truly believe in democracy, and I wouldn’t suggest to our members that we hinder the election process in any way,” he said.

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