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NELSON City workers that have been locked out for six and a half weeks have voted 99 per cent to reject the city of Nelsons proposal to go to binding arbitration on the outstanding issue of contracting out of city services.

The membership has spoken. They are tired of the citys tactics of intimidation and coercion. We want to negotiate, says Bev Lapointe, CUPE 339 President. As elected officials, councils proposal to impose a contract on us is an appalling display of avoidance.

Why should a mediator from Vancouver come to Nelson and have the final say on our public services? Its not Vince Readys role to keep Nelsons core services publicly owned and operated. Thats our role and the role of the city. Weve been negotiating collective agreements successfully in Nelson for the past 55 years. Surely we can do it ourselves again.

The workers are frustrated that since bargaining first began they have made numerous proposals that have all been rejected by the city. The city, on the other hand, has never moved from their initial position and used heavy-handed tactics like a lockout, attempted court injunctions and imposed settlements to get their way.

We offered to reduce the minimum staffing level. We proposed new contracting out language. We went to mediation. We considered recommendations. We got off the minimum staffing level and that still wasnt enough. Well, there is only so much we can bend without seeing movement from the city.

We can all agree we need a made-in-Nelson solution. For that, the city has to show some willingness to negotiate, says Lapointe.

A contract does not need to be imposed, it needs to be negotiated. We have confidence that this is possible.

CUPE 339 represents the city of Nelsons 76 city workers who, prior to the lockout, provided quality public services to the community.

Bev Lapointe, President, CUPE Local 339, (250)354-7975;
Diane Kalen, CUPE Communications, (778)229-0258.