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December 14, 2015

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Grand Forks layoffs can be avoided say CUPE city workers

GRAND FORKS - City workers are calling on the Grand Forks Mayor and Council to start 2016 by taking another look at ways to deal with the community’s financial woes and working towards a better relationship with its staff in the wake of the city’s recent announcement about layoffs.

The call by CUPE local 4728 comes after the city twice rejected union proposals to mitigate layoffs and large-scale disruption within the city workforce related to the Grand Fork’s Asset Management Investment plan.

Today the union released an open letter to the Mayor and Council outlining the situation, including assurances from the city that it would take measures to avoid layoff of active employees.

CUPE National Representative Harry Nott said that the union has proposed measures that fully address the employer’s financial shortfall, with savings of $300,000 annually, while at the same time treating its workers with dignity.

“We have been through months of process and believed that the City would stick to its assurances that it wanted to protect its workers while it addressed its financial problems. That seems to have disappeared and city staff are very upset and concerned about their futures,” said Nott.

In its letter to the Mayor and Council, the union outlines concerns about City demands that contravene basic representation rights for workers and create a climate of distrust and chaos within the ranks of city workers.

“We proposed solutions that would see the longest-serving workers retire and allow younger workers, with families and financial responsibilities, to continue working for the residents of Grand Forks. In rejecting our proposal and continuing on with a plan that will result in layoffs, costly litigation and ongoing internal strife, our employer seems like the Grand Forks Grinch as we head into the Christmas season,” said Nott.

The union will continue to pursue alternatives with the city and will support affected members throughout the layoff process should that be necessary.

CUPE 4728’s letter to the Grand Forks Mayor and Council can be seen here.

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