Saturday night, a tentative agreement was reached between the 11 CUPE Locals part of the Centralized Bargaining Team and the New Brunswick Government. All workers are to return to work immediately as strike activities are held off pending ratification from the general membership.
CUPE Locals 1190, 1251, 1252, 1253, 1418, 1840, 1866, 2745, 5017 and 5026, had been on strike since October 29, 2021. CUPE 963, representing Alcool NB Liquor (ANBL) workers joined the Centralized Bargaining Team after conducting successful strike votes last week. They also reached a tentative agreement this Saturday.
“Most workers had been without a contract for over three, four years, so I am pleased they have an agreement they can vote on in the coming days,” said Stephen Drost, President of CUPE New Brunswick.
Late in 2020, Premier Blaine Higgs had announced his intentions to impose a wage freeze on all public sector workers. “Despite the pandemic pressure, the recruitment and retention crisis, despite CUPE’s repeated appeals to reason, Higgs did not want to offer fair wages to workers,” said Drost. “What is in today’s tentative agreement has only been possible through collective action, perseverance, and determination of all union members,” said Drost.
More than 20,000 CUPE members were involved in what has become New Brunswick’s biggest legal general strike.
From day one, the union’s goal at the bargaining table was always to obtain real wage improvements that go above the cost of living. “This is key to improve New Brunswick’s public services, services that we need now more than ever as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Drost.
Details of the agreement will not be released until members can see it first during ratification votes later this week.