On April 26, 2007, CUPE 15 received 93.5% support for a a strike vote from their membership. Over 50% of the membership voted – this is the an excellent result by any measure.
GVRD negotiators are proposing a wage freeze for some of the cities lowest paid inside workers, reductions in bargaining members rights, reductions to sick leave, vacation, banked time and more. This in addition to demands for a 39 month contract, special managment rights to accommodate the Olympics and ongoing contracting out of bargaining unit work.
CUPE 454 (Delta) was recently forced into mediation at an unusally early date by their employer and the GVRD. CUPE 454 had to immediately seek a strike vote from their members prior to entering mediation. An independant mediator will be brought in to manage this process. If the mediator sees that the bargaining unit does not have a strike vote, he or she will interpret that as an indication that the union does not have the support of its membership. Furthermore, the mediator will then think that the Employers demands/propsals have more weight and will rule accordingly.
When CUPE 454 received notice to proceed to mediation with the employer, this sent a big message to the other four large Lower Mainland locals. Municipal workers from CUPE 15 (Vancouver inside), 1004 (Vancouver outside) 23 (Burnaby), 454 (Delta), and North Vancouver District (389) have been bargaining with the GVRD and their respective employers and have made no meaningful progress. These bargaining units do not want to find themselves called into mediation without a strike vote. This is why CUPE 15 got their strike vote mandate.
If your bargaining unit is given notice to go into mediation with the employer and there is not a strike vote, the mediator will not take union proposals seriously. CUPE 15 saw the writing on the wall and has responded accordingly. Let us see if CUPE 15 are asked to proceed to mediation.
How does this affect our local union? CUPE Local 391 has had far fewer meetings with the employer at this point. It is still too early to know how our negotiations are going to proceed. We have three more meetings planned for June, and at that time we should have a better understanding of where its heading. We will of course inform the membership after those meetings, with a complete update.
We should not be alarmed about any CUPE Local union in our region taking a strike vote. A strong mandate will enable any bargaining committee to apply maximum pressure on the the GVRD and the employer, and should result in the best possible outcome. Bargaining updates will be made available on this blog, and at upcoming General Meetings; plan on attending.
For further CUPE bargaining information, go to www.fairnessforcivicworkers.ca
– the website for the “Fairness for Civic Workers” campaign.