Letter from the Mayor

On behalf of my Council I extend thanks to the citizens of Kitimat for their patience during this difficult time. We recognize residents and businesses are very affected by loss of services. 

The District of Kitimat employs only 23 exempt staff (and over 120 Unifor and 18 Kitimat Firefighters Association Local 1304 employees belonging to the International Association of Firefighters).  This total includes three exempt staff with the Fire Department as well as the Office Manager at the RCMP Detachment.  Those four are looking after essential services at those locations.  They are fully involved in performing essential duties of striking employees as well as their own duties.

We have hired two managers to replace managers who have taken employment elsewhere. Under Labour Code rules, they are limited to their own duties and to essential services.  They cannot perform any duties of striking employees.

The remaining 17 managers are doing essential duties (water, sewer, cemetery, etc.); doing their best to keep the community clean, mow grass, collect taxes, pay bills and many other duties; while also doing their regular jobs. Again, we thank them for their very hard work and thank you for your patience.

On February 26, 2015, the District of Kitimat tabled a Final Offer.  The Union took its members out on strike.   Members of the District’s bargaining committee returned to bargaining a number of times, including on April 3, 2015, when the Union’s bargaining committee shut down discussions with a flurry of inappropriate language.  On April 9, 2015, the District again made an offer that the Union rejected.

On April 18, 2015, we began negotiating under the guidance of a mediator.  No Collective Agreement was reached, although some progress was made.

On May 11, the parties began a second round of mediation.  No Collective Agreement was reached.  On May 21, a third round of mediated negotiations ended with the Union tabling its “bedrock” offer implying there was no room for movement.

On May 24, the District offered binding arbitration – the Union rejected that.  The Union has not held a secret ballot vote on any of the District’s offers.

The District made no demands for concessions.  All of the demands are by the Union.  The District has adjusted its position as the strike has gone on.  However, the public can rest assured the District has continued to present solid offers to the Union.  We are prepared to work cooperatively to reach a fair Collective Agreement which balances employees’ interests with those of other citizens.

We consider that what has already been tabled is more than fair: a Collective Agreement, in its combination of language, benefits and wages that is superior to most private and public sector settlements.  Our employees would be getting significantly more than other public sector employees.

Phil Germuth