Sussex and outside workers' union ratify new three-year contract

Sussex and the union representing its outside workers have come to an agreement on a new contract lasting till the end of 2025.

Town council ratified the contract in a vote at a special council meeting Wednesday, a day after union members with CUPE Local 2163 ratified the deal, according to CUPE spokesperson Simon Ouellette.

The union is not releasing the terms of the deal until the contract ratification process fully concludes, Ouellette said.

CAO Scott Hatcher said changes include "wages and adjustments in the contract language."

"The town thanks CUPE Local 2163 negotiation team and the work done by both parties over the past six months to reach this new tentative three-year agreement," Hatcher said in an email Thursday.

Sussex Mayor Marc Thorne said that there are always "challenges" in labour negotiations, including having outside workers from the town and the former village of Sussex Corner who were on different deals.

"(We) have worked for months to try to ensure that an agreement for the next few years was fair to both parties," Thorne said. "It's about trying to find a balance and people don't always agree, but as long as people are respectful of people's position and looking for the best outcomes overall, I think you can get there and our people did."

The previous agreement ran from 2018 to December 2022. According to Ouellette, the deal runs from January 2023 to December 2025. The union has about 30 members, including water and sewer technicians and maintenance staff, community services maintenance, labourers, mechanics, equipment operators and sub-foremen, he said.

"This new agreement ... was reached without the use of a third-party and both parties are pleased with it," Ouellette said.

During the special meeting, council passed its budget for 2024, which included matching wage increases of 3.25 per cent for non-union employees in 2024, which town documents say was to bring them level with union staff.

The highest-paid non-union positions are the chief administrative o/fficer position, which can range from $111,404 to $141,113, the treasurer, which can run from $96,255 to $121,963, and the community services director, which can range from $79,826 to $103,614.

The town's defined contribution pension plan is set with employees and employers contributing 7.5 per cent each, according to Hatcher. On Wednesday, council also moved to have a one-time employer payment of 0.5 per cent to match union staff.

Andrew Bates, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal