CUPE 358 members in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island are still without a contract after nearly a year of negotiations and bargaining discussions with the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD), the City of Duncan and the District of North Cowichan have all broken down.

City of Duncan workers voted 95% in favour of strike action and a strike vote is planned for November 9 with CVRD members. Mediation through the Labour Relations Board (LRB) is also scheduled for both the CVRD and the District of North Cowichan later this month.

CUPE National Representative and Lead Negotiator Ian McLean says that while there has been considerable progress at all three bargaining tables, each unit still has one major outstanding issue they haven’t been able to reach agreement on.  

“The government announced a reduction for Medical Services Plan premiums starting in 2018 which means employers will have a significant cost savings and we believe that money should continue to be dedicated to employees’ benefits,” says McLean. “CUPE 358 members are committed to their community and the services they provide, and they want to continue to provide those services without interruption. Taking strike action is always a last resort and we plan to do everything we can to complete negotiations at the bargaining table.”

Before taking any strike action essential service levels would need to be negotiated and the union would have to serve 72‑hour strike notice.

CUPE Local 358 has six units and represents approximately 400 local government and private sector workers in the Cowichan Valley.