Strike officially over - council unanimously ratifies new deal
The city worker strike is now officially over, with council voting unanimously to ratify the new collective agreement this morning. This agreement was presented to CUPE Local 2262 on Dec. 22 and the union said its membership “overwhelmingly” voted in favour of it on Dec. 23.
The union announced the results of the vote on Dec. 24, but city council was unable to ratify, as four of its members were out of town and only one councillor is allowed, legally, to vote via telephone or digitally, leaving them without a quorum.
Of the remaining voting members (Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff, Bruno Tassone and Mayor Lawrence Chernoff), only two were allowed to vote, as Tassone (as a former union member) has to recuse himself due to conflict of interest issues.
“Of course, we wanted to address this as quickly as possible,” Chernoff said. “I’m pleased it’s done, and there’s not a doubt in my mind that council is, as well. It’s been a long, tough struggle, and we look forward to our employees returning to work.
“I thank council for its resolve in achieving a deal that is fair and respectful to the employees and to the residents and businesses of Castlegar,” he added. “We recognize that this has been difficult on our employees, citizens and business community. I am pleased that Council kept in view the best interests of our community over other considerations.”
In a city-issued press release at 12:35 p.m. on Dec. 31 further said, “The new agreement is a six-year term retroactive to February 2013 and includes a 10.3-per-cent total wage increase over six years. Specifically it provides a 35-cent-per-hour increase for the first year, followed by annual wage increases of 1.5 per cent, 1.5 per cent, 2 per cent, 2 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. It also includes a 15-hour per month cap on city-paid time for union investigation and settling of union grievances, as well as improved benefits, an expedited grievance-review process and a commitment by both sides to discuss a future relationship-enhancement program if either side wishes to discuss same. Job security language, as recommended originally by the mediator in November, was placed into a Letter of Understanding to the Collective Agreement.”