CASTLEGAR – Striking Castlegar civic workers have ratified a new collective agreement. The 35 members of CUPE Local 2262 voted overwhelmingly last night to accept terms hammered out during two days of mediated talks with the City on Monday and Tuesday.
The new contract must still be ratified by City Council before the employees can end the strike and return to work. The workers have been out on the picket line since Nov. 8 in the first civic labour dispute in Castlegar’s history.
The six-year agreement is retroactive to February 2013 and includes a 35 cent-per-hour increase for the first year followed by annual wage increases of 1.5%,1.5%, 2%, 2% and 2% respectively.
The agreement also includes language improvements to optical care, meal allowances and extended health. Letters of agreement address employer paid time for grievance investigation and a clearer definition of exempt staff and bargaining unit work.
As well, the two parties agree to take action on outstanding grievances and participation in a BC Labour Relations Board sponsored relationship enhancement program. CUPE National Representative Lori Sutherland says the new contract “helps lay the groundwork for a more productive and respectful workplace.”
CUPE Local 2262 president Leford Lafayette credits hard bargaining and “the incredible degree of constant support and solidarity from local union members and from the people of Castlegar. The generosity we have witnessed from our friends and neighbours is truly inspiring – especially at this time of year.”
Lafayette says members of the local “are now looking forward to returning to work and doing what we do best – serving the people of Castlegar and keeping the city clean, safe and running smoothly. “
CUPE 2262 members do a wide range of jobs including keeping roads and sidewalks clear, maintaining public parks and outdoor rinks, the water treatment plant and operating services for the public at city hall.