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City police agree to new contract after almost four years without

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
December 15th, 2016

One down two to go.

The city has finally reached a contract agreement with its unionized municipal police force, with only firefighters and members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) remaining without contracts.

The police union reached a deal with the city on Dec. 1, with the Nelson Police Association (NPA) members voting to accept the proposed contract on Dec. 6, ending a reign of almost four years without a contract for the NPA.

“The vote to accept the proposed contract indicates to all involved that the members of the association are satisfied with the proposed contract,” said NPA president Brian Weber.

The wages are rising at a rate similar to other police force raises across B.C., he said.

“Although the raises have kept the Nelson Police Department from reaching pay parody with our compatriots, we are content that the City of Nelson has agreed to compensate our members in a fair manner,” Weber added.

Nelson mayor and chair of the Nelson Police Board agreed.

“Our police department understands the challenges of living in a smaller community so there were some concessions made in the agreement,” she said. “There were some positive changes that will help alleviate some of those cost pressures in the future as well.”

The new contract will contain some new benefits for the members of the NPA, including recognition of Family Day as a provincial statutory holiday and slightly increased pay for specialty work (training new officers).

Weber said that in exchange for the additions, there was an agreement to reduce the sick day “banks” and retirement benefits.

Negotiations began in earnest in August of this year, with the intent of not letting the negotiations “drag on,” said Weber. But it took almost three years for the two sides to finally sit down.

“We at the Nelson Police Department simply don’t have the time to spend on protracted negotiations,” he said. “We are very busy delivering the high quality police service that the citizens of Nelson deserve.”

The new police contract will expire at the end of 2019.

CUPE delivers strike vote

A group of newly unionized employees at the Nelson Youth Centre continue to be the major stumbling block between the city and CUPE Local 339.

The city will be hearing within the next two weeks regarding contract negotiations with CUPE, said Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak.

“We are close to an agreement with CUPE as well, but as you know we are sorting out some things with the Youth Centre,” she said. “We are talking with them to understand their issues. We are talking with them but we are anticipating that it won’t take long.”

CUPE workers have been without a contract since the beginning of the year.

However, last week the local voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action at the city and the youth centre. The vote was 95 per cent in favour of a strike (based on 85 members).

Now that police contract is settled the fire department will most likely be coming back to the table, Kozak noted.

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