A majority of the 1,200 workers in the Saanich district represented by CUPE Local 2011 voted to strike on Tuesday (Aug. 16) after the union rejected what the president called a “rollover” agreement that fails to address challenges in the area of labor. address the cost of living.
More than 94 percent of workers who voted chose the option to strike. District and union negotiators reached an impasse last week after Saanich’s latest contract proposal was rejected by the union.
CUPE Local 2011 president Ryan Graham said on Wednesday that the district withdrew affordable items from its offering on Aug. 4. Much of the contract has not been revised or updated in more than a decade, he added.
The two parties have been negotiating a new collective labor agreement since December 2021.
“We thought we’d get somewhere with negotiations in late July, early August,” Graham told Black Press Media. “We would be very happy to re-enter the negotiations and sit down at the table… as long as the district will listen.”
In a statement, Suzanne Samborski, acting head of Saanich’s administration, confirmed the union’s rejection of the offer. Should a strike take place, she added, certain “essential work” must continue, noting that the parties are currently negotiating an essential services agreement in accordance with the provincial labor relations code.
“CUPE is not in a legal position to execute a 72-hour strike notice until essential service levels are finalized and approved by the provincial Labor Minister,” Samborski wrote.
Public services provided by CUPE Local 2011 members include water, wastewater, sanitation, roads, parks, planning, recreation, and police and fire operations. Affordability proposals put forward by the union for improvements in benefits coverage, benefits, safety equipment and temporary and precarious worker support, the statement said on Wednesday.
“Many of our workers live paycheck to paycheck,” said Graham, describing the growing struggle to fund groceries, housing and transportation. “We have nowhere to go with what meets the needs of our members.”
Samborski said the district remains open to resuming negotiations if the union’s negotiating committee so wishes.
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District of SaanichLabour