OP/ED: Castlegar Council says City strike misguided, urges Union to reconsider
Ed Note: The following is a press release issued by the City of Castlegar in response to CUPE 2262’s notice, given today, of full strike action.
The union representing Castlegar’s unionized city workers has decided to take full-blown strike action effective Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014.
“We have bargained in good faith and at considerable cost to the taxpayer over the past year and a half,” says Mayor Chernoff. “The Mediator requested by the Union made recommendations for a generous and reasonable settlement, which the City accepted and the Union rejected. The Union still wants more.
“The Union’s decision to take strike action rather than go back to the mediator with their concerns is unfortunate,” says Chernoff. “I feel for the City and I feel for city employees who we believe are being misguided by their union leadership.
“Bargaining doesn’t just go on until you get every last thing you want. There’s a time to bargain and a time to reach agreement. Instead, the Union has decided to escalate strike action,” says Chernoff.
“The Union is telling their members that by going on strike they will influence city decisions around the hiring of management staff and which civic services will be done by contractors and which will be done by unionized employees,” says Chernoff. “From day one, the Union put no proposals on the table about these issues and a strike is not going to change that.”
Labour Relations Board Mediator David Schaub’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 benefits are superior in B.C.’s municipal sector and include an increase in extended health benefits 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.
This wage increase is in line with recent public sector settlements, year over year cost of living increases and maintains the base labourer rate as superior in the region. If the Mediator’s offer is accepted, city workers in Castlegar will have received a 22.64% wage increase since 2008.
“Over the course of bargaining and mediation the City has carefully considered each and every one of the Union’s 50 plus bargaining demands,” says Chief Administrative Officer John Malcolm. “Today the Union is saying their key issue is job security. We frankly don’t see job security as a live issue since the City hasn’t laid off a full-time regular employee in over 20 years and we are a growing City.
“We will make every effort to continue to provide prompt customer service to residents, businesses and visitors and appreciate the public’s patience during this time,” says Malcolm.
Residents are advised that 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. Residents are further encouraged to check the City’s information page on the CUPE strike at www.castlegar.ca/strike for public service and bargaining updates.
For more information, please visit www.castlegar.ca/strike or contact: John Malcolm, Chief Administrative Officer 250.365-8951