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REPORTING · 25th May 2015
District of Kitimat
Negotiations Update

Mediation resumed on Thursday, May 21, 2015. The Mediator had earlier stated that he was available to meet until approximately noon, Saturday, May 23.

The District tabled an offer comprised of significant additions including provisions on training, Occupational Health and Safety, equalization of overtime and other changes.

The Union’s proposal was presented at 12:25 p.m. on Saturday, May 23. This made it impossible to respond before the Mediator was due to leave.

Later in the day, the Union posted a statement that this was the Union’s ‘BEDROCK’ position and the ‘bare minimum that will improve our working lives’.

The Union’s statement is misleading. As a result, the District is compelled to outline some of the extensive language and financial items which have been tabled or have been agreed upon.

Summary of Negotiations

Wages:

The District has offered a 2.5% increase in each of three (3) years, which will make our employees the highest paid in the Province.

The District offered a reasonable signing bonus; the Union wants a higher bonus.

Benefits:

The District made improvements to almost every health and welfare benefit in the Collective Agreement, ranging from increased amounts for hearing aids, wellness treatments, dental and vision as well as oral contraceptives coverage. Premium payments have also increased throughout the Agreement.

Security of Employment:

The District has agreed to renew a letter guaranteeing that no regular employee can be laid off, under any circumstances. The Union wants the District to agree to a set number of employees, referred to as a manning clause. This is not about protecting existing employees.

Health and Safety:

The District had conditionally agreed to extensive language, despite its view that its proposal protected employee safety, particularly when combined with the District’s commitment to retain the services of an expert Health and Safety Officer to assist the parties in ensuring policies and procedures were safe. The District is reverting to its language.

Part-time Employees:

The Union had concerns that the District employed too many part-time employees. The District offered to create full-time positions and allow part-timers to access extra hours.

Public Works Issues:

The Union tabled a large numbers of issues applicable only to Public Works. The District has agreed to most of the demands but some issues are still outstanding.

Further Wage Increases Based on New Industry:

The Union wants the District to increase rates of pay by $0.50 upon a Final Investment Decision being made by a new major industry and another $0.50 once the District collects any revenue from such new industry. A $0.50 increase represents another 1.7% increase for labourers and considerably more for lower rated positions. This demand is in addition to the 2.5% per year increase the District has offered.

The above represents only a summary of the language and financial changes the District has agreed to. It is obvious the District cannot agree to all of the Union’s demands as this would prevent the District from managing its operations with any flexibility and would impose extreme cost on all citizens.
Contracting out
Comment by MP on 25th May 2015
Interesting to me is the fact that the union wants more and more and more all in one deal. Well, RioTinto, an employer I've heard deals with similar labour tactics, has their fair share of contractors now and it's acceptable, or at least no war has broken out. With this being said, maybe some of the jobs at the district could be contracted out to counter these apparent increases coming our taxpayer way. Just sayin!
Sectretariat
Comment by morganhorse on 25th May 2015
I am not a member of a union...but I recognize fair play when I see it...or in this case, unfair play.

To say they shouldn't be talking about harassment issues or human rights issues during contract negotiations is beyond stupid. The union wants it in writing that behaviours of the past will not be repeated, and I would want it in writing too if I were a part of the union.

Management has already proven themselves of being willing to take advantage of long term employees, and all their previous promises have been written on running water.

a horse of a different colour
Comment by Secretariat on 25th May 2015
Megahorse,

The very fact that inability of your union to protect or solve some problems for the membership prior to negotiations is not the District's problem. You pay your dues and in your case you take your chances. to go on and on about this will not help at all. There are multiple avenues to get either human rights, sexual harassment, and contract disputes solved. But negotiations is not one of them.
I suggest that you make a complaint against your union for misrepresentation at the labour board, while taking your dues.
BTW the offer of the District looks to me more than fair, too fair if you ask me.
Seriously?
Comment by morganhorse on 25th May 2015
This is how you are continuing to handle things? I can recognize this pattern as well as I recognize the pattern in my rug...get everyone's hopes up that you will actually listen and deal fairly, then stonewall until time runs out and make a statement like this.

The Union left before you had time to respond?

You've had MONTHS to deal with this. And our town is unkempt as a result.

" It is obvious the District cannot agree to all of the Union’s demands as this would prevent the District from managing its operations with any flexibility and would impose extreme cost on all citizens." Come on...Poor management has brought us to this place and time, and now you want to blame these talks?

You have walked over people for years, wasted taxpayer money on lawyers, and let our town run down to the point that it doesn't resemble itself anymore.

Get it together and deal with the issues instead of writing press releases meant to anger the public over wage increases or draw sympathy to yourselves.

I'm not buying it.
UNIFOR does not understand Public Sector Bargaining
Comment by D.K. Nielsen on 25th May 2015
On the Victoria Day long weekend I visited my family who are caught up in the Kitimat City workers strike. I was surprised at how little information was available to the public about the issues in this dispute. The city has now published their side of the issues and it is clear why the union is not speaking.

UNIFOR claims on their website:

Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union, with more than 305,000 members across the country, working in every major sector of the Canadian economy.

Unifor brings a modern approach to unionism: adopting new tools, involving and engaging our members, and always looking for new ways to develop the role and approach of our union to meet the demands of the 21st century.

Every person of working age in Canada has a right to a good job and the benefits of economic progress.

Clearly the UNIFOR bargaining team has no idea how to negotiate with a public sector employer. Most modern unions including CUPE learned long ago that striking against a public sector employer does not work unless you can withdraw a service that the public cannot do without. In the case of the Kitimat strike, the public hardly notices that a strike is happening. The UNIFOR members have no leverage.

The real problem though is that if the cities statements are anywhere close to correct then the union is just plain greedy. Both Terrace and Smithers have settled for less than is being offered the Kitimat employees.

According to the City the present offer would make the employees the highest paid in the province. The union idea that they should get more if one of the LNG projects goes ahead is just plain stupid. Employees get paid for the work they do. The success of an LNG project does not affect the duties of a city employee. More employees may be required but the actual duties of a specific employee will not change so their remuneration should not change.

I understand that Kitimat is a “Union Town”, but Union should not equate to”Stubborn” and “Greedy”. UNIFOR on their website state they bring a modern approach to Unionism. They are not demonstrating it in Kitimat. They claim to involve and engage their members but they will not even release their bargaining position to their own members.

UNIFOR needs to show some leadership and get their members back to work. Starving out your own members in the name of Union Solidarity is just plain DUMB.