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How do you turn a routine round of negotiations into a messy strike? Simple: just add consultants.

Municipal bargaining in BC’s lower mainland is never easy (so many contracts, so many leaders) but CUPE leaders had been thinking the 2006-2007 round would be easier than it had been.

A thriving provincial economy, reasonable, measured demands from CUPE members, general labour shortages and a construction boom all pointed toward a comfortable round.

But suddenly things started going wrong. North Vancouver wanted a $6 per hour cut in wages for seasonal workers. Vancouver wanted to freeze the wages of its building cleaners.

All over the lower mainland, employers were demanding nasty takeaways. Which is about the time that Wilcox Group contact information started appearing at the bottom of management’s press releases.

CUPE filed a Freedom of Information request to compel the Greater Vancouver Regional District to cough up all correspondence between them and the Vancouver and Toronto-based PR firm.

CUPE’s report on the FOI revelations suggests that far from being good citizens who help corporations fight PR fires, the Wilcox Group’s involvement may well have triggered the blaze.

Read the whole report: Wilcox Group revealed: FOI points to hidden civic agenda