This morning’s Vancouver Sun featured a front page article entitled “Civic Strike Could Last Months, City Says.” The content of this article came out of a meeting City spokesman Jerry Dobrovolny had with the Editorial Board of The Sun. Mr. Dobrovolny makes a number of interesting and outrageous allegations about the unions’ motivations for going out on strike. He specifically refers to the counter-proposal our Bargaining Committee made to the Employer during Friday’s negotiations.
Mr. Dobrovolny alleges that CUPE 391’s counter-proposal includes “significant new demands” related to pay equity. He maintains that the City is “absolutely baffled” by these demands. As pointed out by both Ed Dickson and Alex Youngberg in the article, the Bargaining Committee tabled no new demands during last week’s negotiations. The Bargaining Committee merely made amendments to their proposals on job evaluation and pay equity. Amendments to proposals and compromises are how collective agreements are usually negotiated.
It is important to remember that pay equity is an important and complex topic. Contrary to the spin coming out of City Hall, CUPE 391 does not expect a final settlement on pay equity to emerge from the current contract negotiations. Rather, the Union seeks to create a framework for moving forward on this important issue. Such a framework would include setting up a Committee to examine Library positions and compare them with similar positions in the City of Vancouver and oversee the implementation of a Gender Neutral Job Evaluation Plan. Other municipalities have successfully negotiated steps forward on the path to pay equity through this round of contract negotiations.
Accompanying the headline of this morning’s front page Sun article was the provocative subtitle “Union says demands will rise ‘the longer the strike goes on’.” This actually refers to a statement on CUPE 1004’s website regarding a signing bonus, something CUPE 1004’s Acting-President, Mike Jackson, maintains is a standard demand in the event of a prolonged strike.
On a more positive note, today’s Sun also published a letter to the Editor (page A10) regarding Saturday’s half-page ad from the City of Vancouver. Entitled “City’s PR spin wastes tax dollars”, the letter draws attention to the costs involved in placing the ad and notes that the ad would have been composed by a “PR flak”. Here is the full text of the letter.