The union representing front line Fort McMurray municipal workers is crying foul after Wood Buffalo municipal councillors voted today to reward non-unionized staff overtime during the spring fire evacuation.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Alberta Division is upset that management staff will be paid overtime for all time worked over 44 hours per week, while CUPE members had to work up to twelve hours per day at regular pay rates.

CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts pointed out that the motion passed before council today says unionized employees must be paid according to their collective agreement, which has special provisions for emergency work. According to those provisions, regular overtime rules do not apply, and staff must work up to 12 hours per day at regular wages.

“Council rightly recognizes that municipal staff worked very hard during the fire and evacuation,” said Roberts. “But they are enforcing two sets of rules, one where managers get rewards, while the union staff don’t.”

CUPE bus drivers, who have a different contract, are not bound by the 12-hour rule - although the city tried to enforce it in the middle of the fire.

Roberts said even with the more punitive overtime rates, most CUPE members have not been paid overtime wages for work done in May and June. 

“We’ve been repeatedly raising these issues with city managers and we’ve been shut down every time,” said Roberts. “We can’t get any issues resolved, and our members are furious.”

“This is just an additional slap in the face to people who moved heaven and earth during the fire to look after their community.”