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REPORTING · 1st March 2015
Walter McFarlane
The workers for the District of Kitimat went out on strike on Saturday, February 28th 11:55 am. They were picketing in front of the Arenas, the pool, Riverlodge and Public Works Yard. They were outside the mall entrances with signs and handing out information as well to members of the public.

“This is the first day of our strike,” said Martin McIlwrath, Business Agent for Unifor 2300 in Kitimat. “We have many issues in regards to seniority, precarious work, health and safety, training, contracting out, job security, wages, minimum positions, etc."

We asked for a breakdown to what the cost would be to the public. McIlwrath told us they are finalizing the cost break down and will release the information to the public soon.

“This strike will last until all of our issues are resolved in some way, shape or form ,” said McIlwrath. “We have very serious issues that are not going to go away. We need to get these issues resolved in order to move forward and forge a new relationship where the District respects our members.”

He stressed the employees of the District of Kitimat are fed up with the abusive relationship by their employer.

“We have tried to bargain in good faith for two months past the expiry of our Collective Agreement. Our union offered the District to work through the night prior to the strike deadline to make progress so we did not have to walk off the job, but the District did not respond. So we exercised our legal rights. Also, through the Municipal Manager, we invited the Mayor and Council to the bargaining table to try and resolve these issues, but at this point we have not received a response,” said McIlwrath.

The District of Kitimat also posted what they were offering on their website on February 28th. According to Ron Poole, District CAO, they are offering a 2.5% wage increase every year for three years. They are also adding 10 full time position in the Leisure Services Department.

“The District of Kitimat has been bargaining in good faith, wishing to reach a settlement with Unifor 2300. The District’s latest offer combines the interests of both parties while taking into account the public taxpayer. Although there is looming optimism in oil and gas development for Kitimat; the truth is, there has been no investment or commitment made to date and thus our tax base remains the same. The Union’s extensive demands would amount to a 12 percent tax increase for property owners,” wrote Poole.

In the meantime, the Old Timer’s Hockey Tournament has been cancelled. According to Richard Velho, the coach for the Pee Wee hockey team, if they are not back at work in time, arrangements have been made to take the march break tournament to Terrace.

“It’s going to be a little bit tough to leave the community, and bring the benefit it would bring the community to Terrace, but there is no other option if we don’t get a contract,” said Velho.

He said there is still enough time to make the tournament happen in Kitimat.
Kitimat is not hockyville
Comment by Dan on 4th March 2015
The causualties are mounting not just for workers but the community as a whole! I find it very sad that the district and the union were not able to come to a understanding and hammer out a deal. As a result we have lost 2 hockey tournaments ( old timers and bc peewee provincials) these tournaments were to announce to the north and the province that Kitimat was again open for tournaments and not just modernization! Let's hope one day they will return
Comment by Darcy Metz on 3rd March 2015
I've heard something about RTA trying to pay less taxes to the city so how much would that affect our property taxes?
agree with Doug
Comment by Leanne Gust on 3rd March 2015
We have been asked to support Unifor but shouldn't we be given the chance to make an educated, well informed decision? I too would like to see what both sides are asking for.
Re: Jim
Comment by Ralph Bartel on 3rd March 2015
Read what I wrote again Jim. I said even with the EXTRA two hundred PHOG. You do the math and basic comprehension,
Comment by kitimat first on 2nd March 2015
id like to ask Ted Bergen if he thinks that the union should show all demands, then why isn't he asking to see how our $206,000 per annum CAO got his wage and benefits package, is this just about union bashing ?
property taxes
Comment by Jim on 2nd March 2015
Ralph A lot of the reason your house taxes went up so much was because Eurocan shut down and the city lost a lot of its tax base. The money to run the city has to come from somewhere. Also you homeowner grant was not $200 but more like $770 dollars. The city is trying to cap this years tax increase at 3%. The union says it is not all about the money and their are about 90 other outstanding issues but its so secretive they can't tell us what they are for some reason. Terrace just settled for a 2% wage increase per year for three years. Kitimat was offered 2 1/2 % per year for 3 years but then there is that other 90 secretive items that also must have a big cost to them for the city to say they would increase our taxes by 12%. Well what are they lets see them.
Re: Twelve percent increase
Comment by Mel on 2nd March 2015
I agree with you Ralph - Well said. And if people think that the DOK has placed all their cards are the table - how nice to live in your world. Good luck to getting your issues resolved Unifor. It is high time that you stop waiting "for the next contract" before things improve.
I agree with Doug
Comment by Ted Bergen on 2nd March 2015
I think the taxpayers have a right to know what the unions demands are. I also wonder why they won't publish their demands. At least if the taxpayers knew what they were, we can support the union or support the DOK.
Comment by Ralph Bartel on 1st March 2015
Mr. Poole could you then please explain to me why my net property tax has increased SIXTY PERCENT since 2010 when Eurocan shut down. And this is with the extra two hundred dollar provincial home owner grant. Sorry but I'm with the Union and I think the DOK should keep their bargaining private. The city has never hesitated to raise taxes in the past nor waste taxpayer money for, i.e. total rebuild of the courthouse parking lot this past summer or the complete repaving of Riverlodge parking lot. Yet whine and drip that the city cannot afford a sidewalk along Quatsino. Give me a break.
Comment by Jim on 1st March 2015
i agree with Doug DOK have put all their cards on the tqble why haven't we heard from unifor are their demands so outragious they are embarrased to publish them.??? Lets see them ..
Publish the 90!
Comment by Doug Read on 1st March 2015
So that the whole community can fully understand this dispute. I'd like to request that the 90 demands from 2300 are made public. Then all the speculation and rumour can end. Too much to ask?