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NEWS RELEASE · 1st March 2015
Unifor Local 2300
March 1, 2015

During this set of negotiations with the District of Kitimat we have tried to keep from bargaining in the media, as we wanted to have our issues resolved at the bargaining table.

We have given statements of clarification as well as notifications that may affect the public, but it was never our intent to bargain our Collective Agreement and make inflammatory statements in the media.

So when the District of Kitimat’s bargaining representatives, including Mayor and Council, resorted to the oldest trick in the bargaining and politics book, where they try and pull the wool over the public’s eyes by distracting the public’s attention from all of the serious issues in the work place as a whole and try and make it all about MONEY and add in a few BAND-AID solutions, we were shocked and surprised.

We weren’t shocked and surprised that the District of Kitimat’s bargaining representatives did this, we almost expected it, but to have our Mayor and Council buy into and participate in this type of childish communication and inflammatory statements to the public is unacceptable.

Therefore, seeing how it appears that Mayor and Council’s agenda is to continue having an abusive relationship with our communities’ employees and that our Mayor and Council’s desire to sway public opinion in their favor by bargaining our contract in the media and Facebook by using scare tactics, instead of resolving our issues at the bargaining table, we will be releasing a series of factual communications that will shed light on what is really going on in bargaining and the work place.

After almost two months of bargaining past the expiry date of our Collective Agreement with the District of Kitimat’s bargaining representatives and in another effort to avoid a labour dispute, our Union offered the District of Kitimat’s bargaining representatives an opportunity to switch out the two spokespersons for their respective committees and bring in the Municipal Manager to take over bargaining for the District because the dialog at the bargaining table was not evolving on the employer’s part.

On the afternoon of February 18, 2015, the Municipal Manager accepted our invitation and took over as lead for the District of Kitimat’s bargaining committee.

We spent the rest of that afternoon and the next day re-explaining in great detail our rationale for the demands put forward by our Union to the Municipal Manager.

It seemed as though the District, through the Municipal Manager, was actually listening to our member’s issues and acknowledging some responsibility for them. For the first time in this set of bargaining we were being asked a lot of questions regarding our rationale and there was actually discussion about how to fix the many problems in the work place.

After the meeting on Thursday February 19, 2015, the District said they needed some time to digest all of the discussions from the last day and a half at the bargaining table and then meet with Mayor and Council before responding.

The District responded to us on Monday February 23, 2015 with their “Offer to Settle”. What we found after examining their “Offer to Settle” with great care and even though they had made significant moves in our demands for benefit increases, they really didn’t adequately address or in most cases didn’t address at all, the very serious issues that plague our workplace.

Over the next two days, we took all of their language that we could use and incorporated it in with our language. On February 25, 2015, we presented them with our ‘Offer to Settle” that would resolve our issues and lay the foundation to forge a new relationship, where the District actually respects its employees and at the same time we served them with seventy two (72) hour strike notice.

If it is not obvious why we served them with strike notice, it is because after bargaining for two months past the expiry date of our Collective Agreement and having them bring in their new spokesperson, they were still unwilling to resolve our member’s serious issues.

On Thursday February 26, 2015, the District gave us what they called their “Final Offer”. After careful examination of their “Final Offer”, we realized that the only changes that they made from their previous offer were the date and title.

On Friday February 27, 2015, we met with the District to once again explain why we will never accept that offer, as it does nothing to resolve our member’s issues.

We repeated to them as on many occasions through this set of negotiations, “Our member’s issues are real and they aren’t going to go away.

If you have alternate language that resolves our member’s issues and provides you with the comfort that you require we are more than willing to work through it”.

As we did on the Wednesday, we reiterated to them that if we are making progress at the bargaining table before the strike deadline, we would not withdraw our services and walk off of the job.

We also offered to work through the night to get a deal done and extended an invitation to Mayor and Council to come to the bargaining table so that we could try and resolve our member’s issues.

We received no response from the District, including Mayor and Council, instead the District sent out the second in a series of personal emails to our members to try and cause some sort of mutiny within our Union, but instead, the District insulted and angered our members because there is no distinction between our members and our Union, we are ONE.

So at 11:55 am on Saturday February 28, 2015, we exercised our legal rights and we withdrew our services and walked off of the job.

We remain committed to bargaining a fair Collective Agreement that resolves all of our member’s serious issues and compensates them accordingly.

As soon as the District of Kitimat is ready to actually start bargaining in good faith and stop surface bargaining, we will be here.

Until such time, we will remain on strike.

There will be more information distributed shortly.

Unifor Local 2300

Comment by Jim on 2nd March 2015
Seems to me council is doing exactly what they should be doing keeping us informed . They were elected to and keep an eye on the purse strings. The union won't tell us what they want. Now they complain that negotiations shouldn"t be in the media and they want to sit down with the city negotiators to come to a agreement . They claim the city is pulling the wool over our eyes by going to the media. Seems to me its the other way around. Why won"t they tell us what they want we are the ones that will be paying it. I support the workers and think they should get a fair settlement but inline with what other municipalities are getting.