The City of Prince Albert could see another strike in the near future.
The union representing outside workers – CUPE 160 – conducted a strike vote on Thursday. Meanwhile, CUPE 882 continues to picket after voting down the city’s offer three times.
CUPE 160 includes employees at the water treatment plant, waste water treatment plant, sanitation department, parks and recreation, roadways, rink operation staff, janitors in city facilities, fleet mechanics, airport maintenance workers, and cemetery staff.
“The city continues to seek numerous concessions, and the current wage mandate is well below inflation,” said Leslie Mourot Bartley, CUPE 160’s president.
“We believe that a strong strike mandate is needed to motivate our employer to settle.”
The union will not be in a legal strike position “for some time,” however, with several steps ahead before job action can commence.
“The City of Prince Albert needs to realize that their current approach to labour relations is failing,” said Mourot Bartley.
CUPE 882 represents workers at City Hall and recreation facilities, such as the Alfred Jenkins Field House, Art Hauser Centre and EA Rawlinson Centre. While it’s been picketing since Sept. 11, workers began job action a month prior by refusing to train others or follow dress codes.
Kiley Bear, the city’s director of corporate services, said many CUPE 160 departments are covered under essential service legislation.
“We have already started planning for the potential outcome of a strike and we can assure residents that disruptions will be limited,” she said.
According to the city, CUPE 160’s most recent proposal includes a 22 per cent general wage increase over four years. The union has requested an extra eight per cent in other monetary asks, including three more sick days per year, for a total of 18.
“CUPE 160’s bargaining team continues to put forward unreasonable monetary demands that are well beyond the realm of possibility. It is clear they are not motivated to find a resolve and keep their members at work,” said Bear.
The city said its offer includes an 11 per cent wage increase – the same as CUPE 882.
The lowest paid employees would also get an increase, bringing their wages up to $19.44 from $15.83, and airport maintenance workers would see an increase during the winter to $28.29 from $27.68. The offer also includes a shift differential increase for water treatment plant employees.
In return, the city is requesting employees contribute one of 15 sick days to a “sick bank” for short-term disability. Additionally, it’s asking that when an employee is sick, they cannot take an overtime shift within 24 hours unless the callback list has been exhausted.
Other requests are adding weekends to the standard hours of work at the airport to meet the needs of airlines, and to determine if non-permanent positions should be made permanent if they have not been laid off for three consecutive years.
Jayda Taylor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald