Fifth group of Lower Mainland civic workers to vote in favour of strike
BURNABY – Burnaby’s city workers just became the fifth group of civic workers in the Lower Mainland to register exceptionally high strike votes in response to proposed take-aways and stalled negotiations with GVRD Labour Relations Bureau, which bargains on behalf of most municipalities in the Lower Mainland. The city workers voted 93 per cent in favour of strike.
CUPE 23 President Rick Kotar says his members are frustrated and prepared to take action to achieve a fair contract.
“We had high hopes for a positive round of negotiations, but when we got to the table we found an employer being led by the GVRD to take a hard line,” says Kotar. He points to a booming economy in a city that is reaping windfall tax revenue from rapidly increasing property values as reason enough to hope for smooth negotiations.
“Hopefully this vote will let the city know that we are serious about getting a fair deal for Burnaby’s city workers. Before that can happen, city council needs to stop listening to the GVRD, and start negotiating with the people who make Burnaby work.”
CUPE 23, which represents roughly 2000 employees of the city of Burnaby and the Burnaby Public Library has been at the bargaining table since October, 2006. They have not met with the employer since March 2, 2007 and like most civic workers throughout the Lower Mainland saw their contract expire almost six months ago.
Kotar urged members of the public to help prevent a disruption in civic services by visiting the campaign website http://www.fairnessforcivicworkers.ca/ and sending an e-mail message to Burnaby City Council telling them to instruct GVRD bargainers to negotiate a fair contract.
CUPE 23 members are wearing Burnaby’s official civic flag to work to show their pride in the civic services they provide, as well as to call attention to the region-wide campaign for a fair contract for all of the Lower Mainland’s 12,000 civic workers.
Strike action by CUPE 23 members would disrupt a wide range of services, including garbage collection, library, and recreation services. Other civic groups which have taken strike votes include Vancouver inside workers (CUPE 15), Delta public employees (CUPE 454), North Vancouver District workers (CUPE 389) and North Vancouver Recreation Commission workers (CUPE 389).
“It’s really a shame that during these good economic times,“ says CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill, “that we are seeing demands to reduce employee benefits and rights. When cities prosper, their workers should prosper too. That’s fair – and only fairness can avert region-wide job action by the Lower Mainland’s 12,000 civic workers.”
CUPE 23 will be meeting with GVRD negotiator Richard Scott on June 15, 2007.
Burnaby’s coat of arms was developed in conjunction with the 100th birthday celebrations in 1992. The Shield of Arms is a visual metaphor of Burnaby’s location at the heart of the Lower Mainland. The blue of the Inlet on the North and the Fraser on the South is separated by the gold of the land, representing both the riches of nature and those created by human endeavour. The eagle, symbolizing the spirit of the whole community, lies at the centre of the design. The wings of the eagle are decorated with water symbols: one each for Deer Lake and Burnaby Lake.
For more information, please visit http://www.fairnessforcivicworkers.ca
For contact in other affected municipalities, please visit: http://www.fairnessforcivicworkers.ca/contacts