CUPE Local 2262 sets up information pickets lines at NDCC
Talks have been replaced with information pickets after bargaining between the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) and CUPE Local 2262 broke down Friday.
Unionized staff at the Nelson and District Community Complex set up information picket lines outside the entrance to the pool entrance Friday at 4 p.m.
As this was only an information line, the public was not stopped from entering the facility.
“We don’t want to be in this position any more than the employer wants us to be in this position does nor the public,” said Steve Stringfellow, National Rep for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, told The Nelson Daily Saturday.
“So we’re going to try to keep some services open and tell the public how we feel and give them the opportunity to call their directors . . . the people they put into office and say, ‘hey, get back to the table and give (workers) a fair deal’,” Stringfellow adds.
Saturday, lifeguards manned the information lines outside the pool entrance, closing down the pool for the day.
Sunday fitness technicians and custodians joined the lines allowing the pool and arena to remain open.
“We had hoped the union would remain at the negotiating table as we were very close to reaching an agreement,” said Jim Gustafson, Chief Administration Officer for the RDCK in a written release.
Unionized workers have been without a contract for 18 months after the last deal expired in February 2011.
The latest offer by the RDCK was a three-year agreement with one percent increase in each year, which prompted the union to walk away from the table.
“I think the elected officials at the Regional District are playing a political game rather than a dollars and cents game and I really honestly think that the management team has been handcuffed as far as the mandate they’ve been given,” said Stringfellow, adding CUPE Local 2262 negotiators are after cost of living of two percent in each year.
“The Regional District have been crying poverty, but they have the money in their budgets. It’s strictly for whatever reason . . . it’s a political reason with no justification not to provide the workers here with a reasonable wage increase.”
Stringfellow said regional district in the East Kootenay gave their unionized staff two percent increases while workers in the Kootenay Boundary received 1.8 percent.
“All we’re asking here is a cost of living increase,” said Stringfellow.
“We had some minor benefits on the table and now we’ve withdrawn those. The only costs we’re looking for is a fair wage increase which is cost of living . . . language hasn’t been a lot of contention.”
Gustafson said the RDCK is ready to resume negotiations at any time whenever the union is ready to return to the bargaining table.
However, the union doesn’t seem to be interested unless the next offer is sweeten.
CUPE Local 2262 said job action Monday would affect the pool and children activities.
Tuesday, CUPE Local 2262 has said there will be no services affected, giving RDCK negotiator a chance to return to the bargaining table.
Wednesday, the arena staff will man the information lines forcing a closure of the ice surface.
Stringfellow said job action would continue if no agreement is reached but was non-committal when asked if the union would close down the complex completely if a deal is not reached soon.