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September 8, 2011

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Strong strike mandate for Campbell River workers

CAMPBELL RIVER—CUPE members working for the City of Campbell River have voted 88.3 per cent in favour of strike action.

CUPE 401 Campbell River Unit president Blaine Gurrie reports that of the 161 permanent and auxiliary employees, 137 members came out to vote this week on whether they should strike.

“This is a very strong signal of member support for our bargaining committee,” says Gurrie, adding that the workers have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2009.  Talks were kept to a minimum until recently while the union gave the City time to deal with the Catalyst Paper situation.

“We have now been to the negotiating table 10 times, twice with a mediator, but the City is still insisting on concessions, “explains Gurrie.  “While we are disappointed to have to take the strike mandate route, we see no alternative at this time.”

Recent settlements in other communities on Vancouver Island have included wage increases averaging 2.5-3.0 per cent per year in three and four year agreements.  

Gurrie says the union has set up two more meetings with a mediator for later this month in hopes of restarting meaningful talks with the City.

The Campbell River municipal workers provide quality public services as inside and outside workers at City Hall, the airport, recreation centres, public works, waterworks and sewage treatment and RCMP.

The workers are part of CUPE Local 401, which represents more than 1,800 workers in cities and towns including the city and Regional District of Nanaimo, the cities of Campbell River and Parksville, towns of Ladysmith and Qualicum Beach the municipality of Lantzville, North Cedar improvement District, the Vancouver Island Regional Library System and the Parksville Community Centre Society.

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