Hotsheet #6

The big news from the frontlines today is the City’s presentation of two offers to striking inside workers (CUPE 15). There has been coverage in all of the major dailies. CUPE 15 has until next Wednesday to respond to the offers which the City claim are based on the contract agreed to in North Vancouver. While most of the focus is on the inside workers, both the Vancouver Sun (ppA1/A2) and The Province (pA6) draw attention to the Library’s situation.

Jeff Lee’s article in the Sun (“City Sends Strikers Two New Offers and a Deadline”) notes the meeting between CUPE negotiators and the Sun’s Editorial Board held on Thursday morning. At that meeting, our own Alex Youngberg, along with Keith Graham (CUPE 15) and Ken Davidson (CUPE 1004), stressed that all three unions accept the principle of the 5 year contract similar to those negotiated in other municipalities across the Lower Mainland. However, they emphasized that accepting the terms of the 5 year contract would not come at the expense of local issues such as pay equity for library staff. Nor would they agree to concessions on job security and seniority. Lee’s article also notes the fact that 391 has not received a response from the City to last Friday’s counter proposal. Tom Timm, a city spokesman, says that the City’s non-response was due to its position that the Union was “going in the wrong direction.”

Christina Montgomery in The Province (“Inside Workers Get Revamped Offers; Two Proposals with Union”) also mentions the lack of a response to last Friday’s counter proposal. However, unlike stories from other news sources, Montgomery’s article notes that 391’s counter proposal is virtually identical to library pay equity agreements reached in Coquitlam and Burnaby. She goes on to say that Timm would not comment on the City’s refusal to bargain for something accepted in other municipalities. All he would say was that the library local’s proposal “was ‘disappointing’ and ‘far richer’ than the City could accept.”

The comments found in both of these articles about the latest CUPE 391 proposals “going in the wrong direction”, and being “‘disappointing’ and ‘far richer’ than the City could accept.” deserve comment. Members from our bargaining committee clarify that the proposals presented to our Employer last Friday are simply amendments to earlier proposals. This is called “negotiation”. In some cases, our position was in fact amended to reduce our demands. However, in the case of our pay equity proposals, it is the first time in nine months that the cost has been put into print for the employer.  Perhaps this is the reason the City would claim they are surprised by our demands and that this price tag is too rich.  Nevertheless, what we have proposed is not more than the monies Burnaby received, and these amounts are well known to our employer and the city of Vancouver.

Laura Drake continues to cover the strike for the Globe & Mail with her article on the latest offer to the inside workers, “New Contract Proposals Spark Hope in Strike” (pS1 in the print edition).

In addition to the coverage of the new offer to Vancouver’s inside workers, today’s Sun also featured Business columnist Don Cayo’s take on “Why This Civic Strike is Taking So Long to Settle” (pC3). Cayo provided fuller coverage on the CUPE reps’ meeting with the Sun’s Editorial Board, and he offered the following observation:

“I have sympathy for some of the union arguments on some specific aspects of the contract. I think that the librarians, for example, may well have a case on pay equity, and that it should be followed up on with an eye to finding an affordable way to resolve it.”

Finally, have a look at Wikipedia’s article on the Vancouver Public Library . It notes that VPL staff are on strike, lists the four major local issues on the table, and provides a link to the CUPE 391 website for more information.