DISTRICT OF LOGAN LAKE - District workers represented by CUPE 2587 were optimistic that after months of negotiations, their reasonable offer for settlement was going to be accepted by Council last night.
“I’m disappointed to learn that management has persuaded Council to reject our offer,” says chief negotiator and CUPE national representative Tom O’Leary. Council discussions on labour relations issues take place in camera.
With a contract that expired in December 2007, a 100 percent strike vote taken this week, and the employer applying for essential services, the workers - who provide vital services from water and sewage treatment, to roads and utilities, to recreation services - could be in a legal position to strike as early as this weekend.
An experienced union negotiator, O’Leary is surprised at some of the conduct by management during negotiations. He is particularly offended that district management told him that if the union accepted the district’s regionally inferior wage offer of 11% over 4 years, the District would not contract-out the community’s Recreation Centre to private interests.
“Public services are not something you trade-off to get your way. This isn’t poker,” says O’Leary. “They belong to the public and it is the public that should decide if their recreation services will continue to be publicly provided.”
CUPE 2587’s offer for settlement was for a 12% wage increase over 4 years plus a 1% a year income allowance to ensure that for the duration of the contract district workers’ total compensation is competitive, addresses recruitment and retention concerns, and is reflective of the current regional labour market.
The income allowance is also a way to compensate for the fact that management refused in negotiations to agree to any of the benefit improvements the workers were seeking, with the exception of a meagre $25 increase to the boot allowance.
“When a community prospers, the workers should too,” says O’Leary. “Logan Lake’s district workers live where they work. A fair contract for them can only uplift the entire community.”
O’Leary is hoping Council can reconsider their decision before the union is forced to take strike action to achieve a fair contract.
Contact: Tom O’Leary, CUPE national representative, 250.862.6131; Diane Kalen, CUPE Communications, 778.229.0258