PRINCE GEORGE – The City of Prince George will begin its 2014 budget deliberations tonight and according to documents released by the City, salaries and benefits for Corporate Management are slated to increase by nearly 60 percent—at the same time the City is still saying there is no money for any increase for civic workers represented by CUPE.
CUPE 1048 president Janet Bigelow says that the increase is likely due to the City creating new communications positions, but that still doesn’t sit well.
“At a time when the City is calling for fiscal responsibility a huge increase like this seems unprecedented,” says CUPE 1048 president Janet Bigelow. “For 11 months now we’ve been told that there is no new money for wage increases for the 500 employees who deliver important public services to residents everyday but the City doesn’t have difficulty finding the money for other priorities.”
“We’ve seen the City create new management positions, and our Mayor and her handpicked City Manager have just gone on an expensive trip to China,” said Bigelow. “The City is considering funding a new performing arts centre and the Mayor spent likely more than $1 million on the core service review – clearly this tells us—and all Prince George residents—that the City is financially stable.”
CUPE 399 president Gary Campbell said that it’s about priorities and that the City’s priority doesn’t appear to be investing in its employees.
”The truth is that municipalities across the province are settling fair and reasonable collective agreements and the tone of bargaining in Prince George is outside the norm of what CUPE has seen across the province,” said Campbell. “Recently both Quesnel and Summerland settled collective agreements and in both municipalities workers received modest wage increases in each year of the contract.”
Last week the City issued its final offer to the union which will force City employees to vote on a proposed collective agreement. The vote will take place this Thursday and Friday. The Labour Relations Board will issue the results once the count is completed. Campbell said that following the vote both locals could still file their 72-hour strike notice as their strike mandate doesn’t expire until early December.