November 30, 2023

CUPE 882 members representing inside workers at the City of Prince Albert voted to reject the city’s tentative agreement Tuesday evening.

“We believe that we have to start this whole thing over because we haven’t been negotiated with in good faith,” said Cara Stelmaschuk, vice-president of CUPE 882.

The workers went on strike on Sept. 11 after failed negotiations with the city. The service withdrawal has impacted service levels at City Hall, EA Rawlinson Centre for the Arts, Frank Dunn Pool, Alfred Jenkins Field House and the Art Hauser Centre.

The union also removed its training of management and contractors and refused to observe the dress code.

A tentative deal was introduced on Sept. 29.

“We were final offered with a four-year offer of 11 per cent,” Stelmaschuk said. “We said we would accept 12 per cent and that was our offer to settle it and they said, ‘No, 11 per cent is what you can take back to your membership.’”

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The city added eyecare coverage and an optional family assistance plan for casual or part-time employees to the offer but did not raise the percentage.

Stelmaschuk said that several crossroads have postponed the vote on the tentative agreement over the past few months.

“We were in a meeting to negotiate an agreement to return to work and we were informed that they would be changing a few jobs around, creating a call centre that would affect four of our clerks in three different departments. They would basically be losing a full-time assistant as far as their administration goes.”

She said the union told the city to withdraw the call centre proposal or negotiate on the contract, or union members would continue to strike.

Some 81 per cent of the union voted against the agreement.

“We are still on the picket line,” Stelmaschuk said. “Our offer is no longer on the table. That was a long time ago and a lot has happened since then.”

She said workers are most adamant about demanding wage increases.

“People are watching minimum wage creep up and they have been working for the city for a long time and just happen to have casual hours so they aren’t hitting 40 hours a week, but they deserve to be above minimum wage for what they do and what they know — we are talking about lifeguards.”

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The union’s bargaining committee said it will be reaching out to the city and to executive director of labour relations, Kristin Anderson, to set new bargaining dates.

Global News has reached out to the City of Prince Albert for comment.

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