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VICTORIA -The District of Sooke and its CUPE staff have negotiated a solid first agreement that will move compensation and working conditions for District employees closer to others in the region.

Sooke employees, who joined CUPE Local 374 in May 2006, achieved wage parity adjustments of 7.5 per cent in 2006 and 5.8 per cent in 2007 as well as a general wage increase of 4 per cent in 2008.

“This agreement goes a long way towards putting Sooke employees in line with unionized local government employers in the region,” says Justin Schmid, president of CUPE Local 374. Schmid acknowledged that the District is now leading civic employers in the region in providing 15 per cent of wages in lieu of benefits for casual staff.

“The agreement is an important development and CUPE members look forward to getting on with the business at hand – ensuring District residents are well served,” says CUPE Local 374 Vice President for Sooke, Darrell Saby.

Schmid says that the contract provides certainty for both the District and employees until the end of 2008, and ensures that employees will be protected from discriminatory or harassing behaviour in the workplace.

District employees voted to ratify the agreement on August 8 following two months of negotiations.

CUPE Local 374 represents 13 municipal staff in the Sooke sub-local, including those in planning, bylaw enforcement, engineering, building inspection, finance, and development services as well as the Deputy Clerk and Deputy Treasurer.

CUPE Local 374 is made up of approximately 1,500 members representing workers in a number of Greater Victoria municipalities. District of Sooke employees will join those in the Districts of Metchosin, Oak Bay, Saanich and North Saanich, the Town of Sidney, and the City of Colwood.