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Addressing local union issues key to Richmond settlement

RICHMOND – Richmond inside workers joined outside workers today in overwhelmingly ratifying the agreement made between their union and the City of Richmond for a new collective agreement. The key to this successful round of negotiations, says CUPE, is the City’s willingness to bargain issues that are important to the union and beneficial to workers – like improvements in benefits and working conditions, including pay for statutory holidays for auxiliaries and part-timers, and new whistleblower protection language.

 “Where there is a will to bargain, there is a way to a settlement,” says Robin Jones, CUPE National Representative and Chief Negotiator for the two Richmond civic worker locals, CUPE 394 and CUPE 718. “It wasn’t always easy, but both parties were at the table to bargain worker issues that matched the City’s objectives and overall it is a win-win situation.”

As is the practice in collective bargaining, the union presented a number of concerns on behalf of their members that resulted in a negotiated settlement, which included the following improvements for their members:

  • Benefits premiums: Medical, Dental and Group Life: employer contribution to premiums increases to 75 per cent on January 1st 2008 then to 80 per cent on January 1st 2010.
  • Improved benefits: Vision care limit increases to $500 per 24 month period (or 12 months with prescription change); eye exams up to $100 per 24 months; laser eye surgery to $750 maximum per year; registered dietician to $500 maximum per year.
  • Nine day fortnight: for a 12 month trial period Local 394 will have a “nine day fortnight” compressed work week.
  • Job evaluation: there is a letter of understanding confirming that a new Job Evaluation plan will be developed. Changes to classifications and reclassifications will be approved if the Job Evaluation plan is for some reason not ratified.
  • Whistleblower and harassment language: whistleblower and comprehensive harassment language with the right to grieve is referenced in the collective agreement.
  • Shift differential: shift differential increases to $1.00 per hour for shifts from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Dirty pay: the dirty pay premium for Local 394 will increase to 75 cents, including for animal waste/excrement.
  • Vacation: new employees will have access to a pro-rated portion of 3 weeks vacation.
  • Stat pay for auxiliaries: auxiliaries working on statutory holidays will receive time-and-a-half pay in lieu of benefits.
  • Clothing: lifeguards who are members of Local 718 will receive 2 sets of Richmond Aquatics shirts and shorts.
  • First aid premiums: for OFA Level II the first aid premium will be $125 per month for full time and 80 cents per hour for regular part time and auxiliary employees.
  • Provincial Emergency Program: must be paid for overtime for P.E.P. projects.
  • Telephone/computer callout: minimum one hour at double pay for telephone or computer callouts which are resolved without attendance at worksite.
  • Other: amongst other changes, there is new language on an auxiliary seniority pool, acting pay, leave of absence for union officials, day relief, conversion of auxiliaries, equality between the two Locals on removal of the sick leave benefit cap, blocking for co-op students and several other issues.

In terms of wage and term, it is a 5-year contract with wage increases of 3 per cent, 3 per cent, 3.5 per cent, 4 per cent and 4 per cent with a “me too” clause in the final year, meaning that if the pattern wage settlements in the GVRD exceed 4 per cent, the Richmond CUPE locals will receive that as well. When compounded, the total wage increase amounts to 18.76 per cent over the term.
CUPE 394 represents 350 outside workers employed at Richmond’s public works yard, parks and recycling depot. CUPE 718 represents 900 inside workers at city hall, community centres, and swimming pools.

Contact:  Robin Jones, CUPE National Representative, (604)314-6586 or Diane Kalen, CUPE Communications, (778)229-0258


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