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MERRITTAnyone signing a deal with Mayor David Laird of Merritt may want to think twice about it. Thats what that citys workers found out recently when, after signing a memorandum of agreement with the Mayor they were shocked to read, in subsequent media reports, that the Mayor and Council had unanimously rejected the deal reached through mediation with Labour Relations Board mediator Debbie Cameron.

Mel Hale, president of CUPE 900, says his members are shocked and hurt by the Mayors turnaround on the deal. These workers want to know when a deal is a real deal, says Hale, who has been bargaining with the local committee for nearly a year to clinch a reasonable contract.

Each person who signs a tentative agreement like the one signed by both sides in this negotiation, bears the responsibility to go out and at least try to sell that deal to the rest of the committee and/or membership, says Hale, but clearly Mayor Laird doesnt share those ethical principles. Their unanimous rejection of the agreement was issued to the media without explanation for the Mayors about turn.

With just a little over a week left to go before the Merritt Mountain Music Festival begins workers are now considering the timing for issuing their 72-hour strike notice.

There is work to be done in town to prepare for the festival, says Hale and CUPE members are up for the job.

But Hale says that in all conscience his members will find it extremely difficult to co-operate or support the efforts of council when they are forced to contend with elected representatives who clearly show such disdain for their employees.

Our plan of action could include any number of things, says Hale, but at the moment the focus is to get Laird to take responsibility for his actions and lead his fellow council members in signing a deal that is fair and a guarantee that Merritts city services will carry on without interruption.


Mel Hale
CUPE Local 900 President