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ARMSTRONG-SPALLUMCHEEN—Three weeks after the union signed off on a mediator’s recommendation, the 12 members of CUPE 2709 who work for the Armstrong-Spallumcheen Parks & Recreation Commission (ASPRC) are being left in the dark as to why their employer is ignoring its own negotiator’s recommendation to accept.

The union employees, who work on all operations for the new arena as well as maintenance and upkeep of the general exhibition grounds, have been without a contract since December 31st.

On October 2, after both parties agreed to recommend acceptance, the union voted to accept the mediator’s recommendation for settlement. The package includes wage increases of 2.75 per cent in 2007 and 2008, and three per cent in 2009, plus minor benefit changes and vacation improvements that don’t come into effect until the end of 2009.

But final ratification has been stalled by the employer’s refusal to sign off on a long-term disability provision it had agreed to before the mediator was brought in, says CUPE 2709 president Lance McGregor.

Our members deserve a fair, equitable deal, and this should have happened a long time ago,” said McGregor.

This is a modest package compared to surrounding settlements. For the LTD to be an issue that would stall ratification makes no sense. We’ve addressed their concern, but the employer still hasn’t agreed, and they won’t disclose what the sticking point is.”

Under the proposed recommendation agreed to before mediation, the maximum monthly LTD benefit of $2,500 a month would go up to $3,000. But that upgraded benefit would likely only apply to one person in the bargaining unit toward the end of the agreement. Now, with extra paperwork required to prove eligibility, it’s virtually a no-cost item.

They keep saying to their negotiator that it’s the LTD, but we fixed it. So we don’t know why they’re holding it up,” says CUPE representative Tom O’Leary.

O’Leary added that the union is asking users of the facilities who have concerns to contact the commission.