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Prince Albert - Buttons depicting unhappy faces are being worn around city hall, the outdoor pool and other city-owned facilities today. The buttons belong to city workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 882, who have been without a new collective agreement for more than two years.

We are extremely disappointed and frustrated with the employer’s refusal to negotiate a fair agreement – one that values and respects our work as city employees,” says CUPE Local 882 President Fay Harelkin. “That’s why our members are wearing the sad face.”

Last month, the city walked away from the negotiating table. No new bargaining dates are set.

Harelkin says the union is willing to return to the bargaining table ‘any time’ to conclude a new contract. “We could be back to the table by this afternoon,” she adds.

Last month, the inside city workers voted 97 per cent in support of taking job action – the first strike vote in the union local’s 43-year history. “The strike vote reflects the level of frustration among our membership,” says Harelkin.

The 120 members represented by CUPE Local 882 want the same agreement that other city workers secured – 9.5% over four years. But the city is demanding concessions and takeaways. “Our dispute with the city is not about money, it’s about fairness,” says union spokesperson Jason Stelmaschuk. “The city gave its department heads a 17% increase for one year, but we’re having to fight for an annual increase of 2.25%. How is that fair?”

Stelmaschuk says the city must be held accountable for the lack of progress in contract negotiations. “It’s disgraceful that after 34 bargaining meetings with the employer, we still don’t have an agreement.”

For more information:
Jason Stelmaschuk in Prince Albert at: 922-3895