Dec 31, 2014

Castlegar finally votes to end first-ever civic strike

CASTLEGAR - The City of Castlegar has finally ratified a new collective agreement with its civic workers – members of CUPE Local 2262.  CUPE members found out through local media that the mayor and council had voted to ratify the deal this morning, nine days after the union voted overwhelmingly to accept the collective agreement.

Today’s vote by Council ends the first Castlegar civic strike in 60 years. City workers were out on full strike since Nov. 8 before the City agreed to return to the bargaining table on Dec. 22. A tentative agreement was reached after two days of mediated talks.

The ratification vote delay by the City left 35 city workers on picket lines for more than a week. While it appears the vote could have been taken right away, Mayor Lawrence Chernoff chose to postpone the ratification until City Councillors finished their Christmas holidays.

The City has yet to announce details of the return-to-work timetable, but earlier agreed in writing that employees will be at or scheduled for work no later than Monday, Jan. 5.

CUPE Local 2262 President Leford Lafayette says union members are looking forward to getting back to work keeping Castlegar city services running safely and smoothly.

The new six-year agreement is retroactive to February 2013 and includes a 35 cent-per-hour increase for the first year followed by annual wage increases of 1.5 per cent in each of the next two years and two per cent a year in the final three years of the deal.

The agreement also includes language improvements to optical care, meal allowances and extended health. Letters of agreement address employer-paid time for grievance investigation and a clearer definition of exempt staff and bargaining unit work.

As well, the two parties have agreed to take action on outstanding grievances and participation in a BC Labour Relations Board sponsored relationship enhancement program.

CUPE 2262 members do a wide range of jobs including keeping roads and sidewalks clear, maintaining public parks and outdoor rinks, the water treatment plant and services for the public at city hall.

COPE 491