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The new contract, approved by city council on March 12 and ratified by the union on March 15, includes a 5.51 per cent wage increase in the first year (2.76 per cent plus 2.75 per cent, based on a job re-evaluation), 2.75 per cent in the second year, and three per cent in the third. Casual employees will see a two per cent increase, to 16 per cent, for in-lieu benefits.

It really was a productive round of negotiations,” notes CUPE representative Tina Meadows. “It was evident that the councillors and city administrators valued their workers and wanted to provide improvements. We’re looking forward to continued improvement with the job evaluation committee and further growth in the community.”

The City of Armstrong is pleased to have completed bargaining with its CUPE employees,” states city administrator Patti Ferguson.  “We believe that a fair agreement has been reached for both parties. The value to the community of having employees committed to being well trained and knowledgeable in the services they are very involved in providing is recognized in the agreement.”

The new contract provides improvements in training, vacation and benefit entitlements; increases the options for eyeglass and hearing aid provisions, as well as the monthly maximum for long-term disability; and establishes a new employee assistance program. Under the contract, the retirement benefit includes one month’s payout for long service with maximum sick credits. There are also increases for dirty pay and boot allowance.

Under the letter of understanding, a joint job evaluation committee has been established, along with two new positions for outside workers (equipment operator and labourer).

The nine Armstrong workers form the second group that is part of the co-ordinated bargaining effort of CUPE 2709, which includes approximately 30 workers. The others work for the Township of Spallumcheen (contract completed) and the Armstrong-Spallumcheen Parks and Rec Commission (bargaining to begin in April).

The last contract expired on December 31, 2006.