NELSON – Members of CUPE 339 have voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action at both the City of Nelson and the Nelson Youth Centre if they are unable to negotiate a fair settlement in the current round of bargaining.
The local which represents 85 employees who work at both locations held the strike vote Monday. With a majority of the membership turning out to cast a ballot, 95 percent voted in favour of a strike.
“No one ever wants to go down this road, especially at this time of year”, says CUPE 399 president Mike Stefiuk. “We are in a bit of a unique situation here because we feel bargaining is nearly settled, however we have been unable to reach an agreement with the City when it comes to terms for the Youth Centre.”
Youth Centre employees applied to unionize on July 8, 2016 and were varied into the bargaining unit comprised of City of Nelson employees. As a result, they are now covered by the existing CUPE Local 339 collective agreement.
“Our focus in this round of bargaining has been a modest wage increase and benefit improvements for our lowest paid members and trying to ensure they have stable employment”, notes Stefiuk. “However, the City wants to keep discussing whether or not staff at the Youth Centre want to be unionized, which is not something that is properly addressed through collective bargaining.”
Since the collective agreement expired on December 31, 2015, the parties have returned to the table several times over terms for the Youth Centre, with the two parties attempting to reach a mediated deal. However, the mediator was unable to bring the two parties to a satisfactory conclusion.
Members of CUPE 339 represent municipal employees who work for the City of Nelson and provide a wide range of services to the city’s residents and businesses. The local also represents staff who work at the Nelson Youth Centre providing support services including overseeing the skateboard park and the Nelson campground, employment counselling, community and school outreach programs as well as a number of other programs supporting Nelson and the community.