NELSON In an unprecedented move, Mayor Dave Elliot has allowed the city of Nelson to lockout its city workers despite $4.2 million in labour cost savings offered by the union. CUPE 339 has not had a labour dispute in its 55-year history.
The lockout stops the workers from reporting to work, forces them onto the streets to picket for their jobs, and effectively shuts down all but essential city services for an indefinite period of time.
The city wants to deliver our hearts on a platter to Mayor Elliot, says Bev Lapointe, CUPE 339 President. And they are willing to drag our peaceful community into their hunt cancelling public swims, transit, and other important services in the process. The city is demanding the right to contract-out all public city service work and refuses to consider a 28 percent minimum staffing reduction offered by the union in addition to youth job incentives and sick leave payout reductions.
To make matters worse, the Mayor doesnt even have the courage to meet with us. CUPE 339 requested a meeting with the Mayor on Thursday in an effort to stop the city from locking them out, but the Mayor refused to meet with union representatives. City workers also sent a letter to the Mayor and Council that has not had a response.
The city cries the financial blues and says they want flexibility. We find that hard to believe when they turn down our offer and we see the Mayor so eager to purchase the most expensive city hall in the Kootenays despite public opposition.
Obviously this Mayor has plans for Nelson that dont include the public or its workforce.
City workers gathered for hours before the midnight lockout notice to write up signs and express solidarity. Some signs read, I want to talk, not walk and Lockout not the Nelson I know. They have already had numerous expressions of community support and are planning a variety of public and family events to raise awareness among Nelson residents on the issues and to demand financial accountability from the Mayor.
We have always been prepared and ready to negotiate a fair collective agreement that doesnt eliminate sustainable jobs and public services to the residents of Nelson. Its time for the Mayor to tell city negotiators to do the same.
Pickets begin at 7am today at City Hall, Civic Centre, Works Complex, and at 8am at the Greenhouse.
CUPE 339 represents the city of Nelsons 76 city workers who provide quality public services such as waste and garbage collection, transit, snow removal, road repair and maintenance, engineering, by-law enforcement, water and sewage treatment, parks and recreation, cemetery and city finances.
Bev Lapointe, President, CUPE Local 339, (250) 354-7975
DianeKalen, CUPE Communications, (778)229-0258