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The joint council representing Vancouver-area municipal employers has announced that it’s willing to look at longer-term agreements.

The move may pave the way for more settlements in the week-old lower mainland civic workers strike.

While it certainly takes more than a wage and an expiration date to make a contract, the employer - and particularly Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan - has been putting length of the contract front and centre with every soundbite. Sullivan had been insisting on a contract expiring just as the bills for the 2010 Olympics come due.

But this week, CUPE 394 reached an agreement with the City of Richmond. That settlement was for a five year agreement which would expire after both the Olympics and the next municipal elections.

Where there is a will to bargain, there is a way to a settlement,” said Robin Jones, CUPE National Representative.

Meanwhile CUPE 391, which represents workers at the Vancouver Public Library joined the strike, walking off the job for the first time.

CUPE National President Paul Moist, in Vancouver to support the strikers, pointed out that Vancouver is the only municipal employer to have three strikes in the last decade.