VANCOUVER—After 82 days on the picket-line, Foley’s recommendations have not passed the test at CUPE 1004. Due to an existing CUPE 1004 by-law, the members need to accept the mediator’s recommendations by two-thirds in order for it to bring an end to the strike. Only 58 per cent of parks workers accepted the recommendations and 57 per cent of city workers accepted the deal, which means Vancouver’s outside workers remain on strike.
The bargaining committee says that the offer doesn’t match up with other negotiated civic deals, like the one negotiated in North Vancouver District and the City of Burnaby and falls short of what the mediator offered CUPE 15 members. CUPE 1004 is also calling for an emergency bargaining meeting with the City of Vancouver to finalize unresolved issues and end the strike.
“There’s just no way that our members can accept returning to work with less than what other civic workers have negotiated in this round of bargaining,” says Mike Jackson, CUPE 1004 president. “After almost three months on strike it is an insult to be offered less than other civic workers in the region. We didn’t ask to be on strike, we were forced on strike to get the same deal as everybody else—that’s what it’s going to take for us to return to work.” Jackson is referring specifically to competitive trades adjustments, as negotiated in other municipalities, in order to stem the loss of skilled trades workers to the private sector.
They also feel the mediator overlooked some of their key issues such as benefit improvements for new hires, a premium for cemetery workers that come into contact with human remains, and contract language to bring a fair system to the assignment of overtime. Currently, overtime is assigned arbitrarily and CUPE 1004 had asked that it be assigned by rotation or seniority.
“We’re also baffled at why CUPE 15 got the same Olympic agreement that we had tabled to the mediator and we got an inferior agreement,” says Jackson. The Olympic agreement Foley assigned to CUPE 1004 is devoid of the dispute resolution process he granted to CUPE 15. The Olympic or VANOC agreement grants the employer flexibility in order to meet management labour needs during the Olympics.
CUPE 1004 is also unhappy that they were expecting to secure the same contract language CUPE 15 has around “earned days off.” By working a few extra minutes a day, inside (CUPE 15) and exempt (non-unionized) staff are able to earn up to 18 days off a year. Foley assigned a committee without any enforcement power to deal with this issue in CUPE 1004.
“We are incredibly disappointed with Foley’s recommendations and wish we could have voted ‘yes’ to a fair contract today,” says Jackson. “But, we didn’t go on strike to end up with less than what other civic workers in the region have been able to negotiate with their employers.”
CUPE 1004’s 1,800 members have been in a legal strike position since July 19, 2007 and in a full-blown strike since July 20, 2007. CUPE 1004 has two different contracts, one with the City of Vancouver (approx. 1,100 workers in water, sewage, street repairs, garbage collection) and the other with the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation (approx. 700 workers in sanitation, grass mowers, gardeners, outdoor lifeguards, etc.).
Contact: Mike Jackson, CUPE 1004 president, c: 778-908-8070
Diane Kalen, CUPE Communications, c: 778-229-0258