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DISTRICT OF NORTH VANCOUVER – Today, the public employees of North Vancouver District became the third group of civic workers in the Lower Mainland to register exceptionally high strike votes in response to proposed take-aways and stalled negotiations with GVRD Labour Relations Bureau, which bargains on behalf of most municipalities in the Lower Mainland. The district workers voted 91 per cent in favour of strike.

District employees are responding to a lack of fairness at the bargaining table, including demands for concessions during good economic times,” says CUPE 389 (District of North Vancouver) President Cindy McQueen.

Like most civic workers throughout the region, the District of North Vancouver employees have been working without a contract since December 31, 2006 and are facing regressive take-aways, including a $6 an hour wage reduction for seasonal workers, reduced access to sick leave and benefit reductions.

This is in addition to the employer refusing to deal with the workers’ concerns, such as treatment of part-time and auxiliary staff, wages and pay equity, necessary benefit improvements and contracting out.

Only a month ago, Vancouver’s inside workers voted 93.5 per cent in favour of strike action, if necessary, to get a fair contract. They were joined by an 89 per cent strike vote by the public employees of the Corporation of Delta. These votes leave the civic workers in a legal strike position for 90 days. All three locals will be in mediation – with Delta beginning on Monday, June 4th – and are expected to exercise their strike mandate, if need be, in the case that mediation does not produce a fair contract.

As part of their campaign for a fair contract, the district workers will begin wearing their district flags to work. They were distributed today.

For us, the district flag is symbol of our everyday commitment to our community and pride in the services we provide,” says McQueen.

They are joined in this campaign by 12,000 civic workers throughout the Lower Mainland, who last month launched a public campaign to promote fairness and prevent a disruption of civic services throughout the region.

The public is encouraged to visit the website at www.fairnessforcivicworkers.ca to send an e-mail message to every member of Council and Mayor to urge them to remove concessions, return to the bargaining table with the intent to make real progress and respect civic workers with a fair contract.

It’s really a shame that during these good economic times,“ says CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill, “that we are seeing demands to reduce employee benefits and rights. When cities prosper, their workers should prosper too. That’s fair – and only fairness can avert region-wide job action by the Lower Mainland’s 12,000 civic workers.”

CUPE Local 389 (Canadian Union of Public Employees) represents over 375 municipal hall, water, utilities, parks, streets, animal shelter, recycling workers, guards, gardeners, inspectors, clerks, surveyors and the many more professionals that work for the District of North Vancouver, Maple Wood children’s farm and North Vancouver Ecology Centre.

The District of North Vancouver flag is based upon the coat of arms, which was granted in 1982.

For more information, please visit www.fairnessforcivicworkers.ca.