Mayor and Council Offer Binding Arbitration

What are the issues between the District and the Union?

After nine (9) days of mediation, I’m disappointed to report the parties were unsuccessful in concluding a new Collective Agreement.  We want fair wages, benefits and working conditions for all employees.  I’m satisfied the District has offered fair terms and conditions.  The District has not sought any concessions.

So what is this dispute about?

Wages?  No. Our employees have almost the highest wages in the province including higher than Terrace, Prince Rupert, Prince George and Vancouver. With the proposed 2.5% increase in each of three years, our employees’ wages will continue to exceed other municipalities that have settled for 2.0% or less.

Is it about Health and Safety?  No. The District tabled extensive language and agreed to hire a new person to review all of our safety policies and practices.

Is it about harassment and working conditions?  No. The District already has a harassment policy developed jointly by Unifor, the Firefighters Union and exempt staff.

Is it about security of employment?  No. Regular full-time and part-time employees cannot be laid off.

What is at issue?

Your Mayor and Council are elected to represent all the citizens of this community.  This dispute is ultimately about who is going to run the District of Kitimat.  Despite the best efforts of this Council and our staff, the Union triggered a long strike, animosity, and continuing hardship for our employees and citizens.

The Union continues to demand:

  • Wage increases higher than 2.5% per year;
  • Large signing bonuses;
  • In addition to protecting all regular employees from lay off, the union wants the District to commit to maintaining a specified number of employees – this is a manning clause which removes all flexibility;
  • Further wage increases based on announcement of new industry regardless of whether the District receives any revenues.  The total increase would be at least 3.7% for all job classifications.

We have moved as far as we can without damaging permanently any ability to manage and represent all citizens. We are disappointed that the Union bargaining committee did not give the membership an opportunity for a secret ballot vote on the offers tabled February 26, 2015 and April 09, 2015.

Given the District’s concern about the length of this strike, the District has proposed to the Union that this dispute be sent to Binding Arbitration.

Phil Germuth

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