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PRINCE ALBERT, SK - An arbitration board will commence hearings tomorrow to determine if the city and the Art Hauser Centre board violated the collective agreement when they contracted out the concession operation at the former Communiplex.

More than 20 civic workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 882, lost their jobs last year when the employer gave the concession contract to the Optimist Club. The concession had generated more than $50,000 annually in net revenues when it was run by the city.

The union filed a grievance in September 2005, after the board refused to rescind the Optimist contract.

The union maintains the board’s decision to contract out the concession operation violates the CUPE Local 882 collective agreement, which limits contracting out of work to situations regarding periodic peaks in workload. The board also failed to notify and consult with the union prior to making its decision to contract out the work.

We have waited a long time for this day,” says Fay Harelkin, CUPE Local 882 President. “Many of the women who lost their jobs were long-time civic employees. The way they were treated by the city was disgraceful,” she says.

The union wants the arbitration board to order the employer to maintain the concession at the Art Hauser Centre as a civic operation and reinstate the CUPE members to their former positions. The union also wants its members compensated for lost wages and benefits.

The Art Hauser Centre has not renewed the Optimist’s Club one-year contract, pending the outcome of the arbitration hearing.

Contact CUPE Local 882 President Fay Harelkin or CUPE staff representative Bryan Brotzel in Prince Albert at 922-3895.