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NELSON Nelson moved closer to an end to the lockout of its city workers, which has brought everything from bylaw enforcement to transit to a halt for the past month. In a meeting last night, the locked out workers voted to accept 9 of 10 recommendations made by negotiator Vince Ready. Readys recommendations covered ten central issues including seniority, sick leave payout, benefits and health care costs, wages, and job classifications.

CUPE 339 members devised and voted to accept an amendment to the outstanding issue of contracting out (dealt with in Readys 2nd recommendation) and will inform Mayor and Council by letter that the citys acceptance of the amended recommendation would resolve all outstanding issues between the parties.

For the sake of our community and the hard working people they have put on the street, we are asking Mayor and Council to vote on the amended recommendation and end the lockout, says Bev Lapointe, CUPE 339 President. Its our olive branch.

By agreeing to nine of Readys recommendations, the workers gave up on their hopes to secure the same standard benefits and improvements enjoyed by other municipal workers across the province.

They voted an overwhelming 89% against Readys recommendation on contracting out which only protects from elimination of the names of current city workers as opposed to the services they provide.

The city workers discussed and passed an amendment that will protect the services from privatization as the aging workforce prepares for a flood of retirements. In it, the union offers to:

eliminate the contentious minimum staffing level altogether and give the city the authority to contract out city work when they demonstrate significant savings, if they agree to replace the list of protected names provided by Ready with a list of protected core services.

Weve given all that we can give and the one thing the city and Mr. Ready have both failed to understand is that we will not give up Nelsons public services.

This has never been about protecting our jobs and our jobs alone, Lapointe says. It has been about protecting public city services, that belong to the taxpaying residents of Nelson, from privatization. It has been about preserving quality services and good jobs for future generations. It has been about keeping our community strong. Nelson residents recognize that.

Over 2,000 Nelson residents have planted lawn signs distributed by the union that read Strong Communities Stay Public! Letters to the editor in the Nelson Daily News are consistently sympathetic and letters of support and financial contributions continue to pour in from places as far away as Washington by individuals and organizations that have heard of this unprecedented lockout by an elected city council.

The city wants flexible? Were a model of flexibility. Throughout negotiations, we have given and the city has taken. After being put on the street for over a month, we still give. Its the citys turn to be flexible. Just because Mayor Elliot and Council are elected, it doesnt mean they are entitled to take whatever they demand.

We voted on this and now we expect Mayor and Council to vote on it.

CUPE 339 represents the city of Nelsons 74 city workers who prior to the lockout, provided 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.

For more information, please visit http://lockoutnelson.blogspot.com


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