VANCOUVER – Today, civic workers at Vancouver city hall, the Park Board, Ray-Cam Cooperative Association and Britannia Community Service Centre Society voted 93.5 per cent in favour of strike action, if necessary, to get a fair contract. As part of their campaign for fairness, they plan to wear the Vancouver city flag to work with over 1,000 being distributed today and more arriving next week.
“Politicians come and go,” says Paul Faoro, President of the workers that are represented by CUPE Local 15. “We have been around for 90 years and will proudly fly our flag to show our commitment to our city and pride in the services we provide.”
“Vancouver’s legacy ought to be one of fairness and respect for its civic workers – not demoralizing take-aways that undermine civic services,” says Faoro. “That’s the message we’re sending to Mayor Sullivan and Council.”
Together with 12,000 civic workers throughout the Lower Mainland, CUPE 15 launched a public campaign (www.fairnessforcivicworkers.ca) on Monday to promote fairness and prevent a disruption of civic services in Vancouver and throughout the region. The public is encouraged to visit the site to send an e-mail message to every member of their Mayor and Council to urge them to remove concessions, return to the bargaining table and respect civic workers with a fair contract.
Despite being different employers, most Lower Mainland municipalities use the bargaining services of the GVRD Labour Relations Bureau. All are encountering employer demands for concessions and/or excessively slow or stalled negotiations. Most are working without a contract, which expired on December 31, 2006.
Vancouver’s inside civic workers are facing some of the most regressive take-aways and concessions, including a wage freeze for some of the lowest paid workers, reductions in sick pay, banked time, vacation and other benefit cuts. This is in addition to the employer refusing to deal with the workers’ concerns, such as treatment of part time and auxiliary staff and the serious concern of contracting out and privatization of public services.
“It’s really a shame that during these good economic times,” says CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill, “that we are seeing demands to freeze wages and reduce worker benefits. 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 15’s bargaining committee met with the employer on 16 occasions since September 2006 in an effort to renew their contract. The employer continues to demand major take-aways and significant reductions in members’ rights and benefits. At the same time they are not prepared to address any of the workers’ proposals.
The employer has tabled a 39 month term which would end on March 31, 2010, one week after the end of the Olympics and Paralympics, forcing the union to try and negotiate a collective agreement for the year 2010, just when all the Olympic bills are coming in.
CUPE Local 15 (Canadian Union of Public Employees) represents Vancouver’s 2500 inside civic workers.
The flag of the city of Vancouver was adopted by City Council on May 17, 1983 and was designed by Robert Watt, then Director of the Vancouver Museum.
For more information, please visit www.fairnessforcivicworkers.ca
Contact: Barry O’Neill, CUPE BC president, 604-340-6768; Paul Faoro, CUPE 15 president, 604-879-4671 or 604-202-1829 (cell); Keith Graham, CUPE 15 chief negotiator, 604-879-4671; Diane Kalen, CUPE Communications, 778-229-0258