Friday, September 14, 2007

City Backgrounder - Bargaining with CUPE 1004

CUPE 1004 served the City with a notice to commence bargaining on November 2, 2006. Dates were set for early 2007 to bring parties together to exchange proposals. The first meeting between the City and CUPE 1004 negotiators took place on January 23; proposals were exchanged.

Subsequent meetings took place on February 23, March 6, March 7, and April 17. In each of those meetings, the City and CUPE negotiators discussed proposals exchanged on January 23.

On April 25 and May 22, meetings of a Sick Leave Committee took place, with a dedicated focus on attempting to resolve outstanding issues in this area. In the days following the May 22 meeting, CUPE 1004 filed notice of their first strike vote. The City was surprised by the move, since it was early in the negotiation process, and the City felt both parties were bargaining well, and in good faith.

On May 28 the City filed an application with the Labour Relations Board, asking it to declare CUPE 1004’s strike vote premature. On May 30, after a hearing on the issue, the LRB filed a decision agreeing with the City, declaring CUPE 1004’s strike vote premature. The LRB ordered the union back to the bargaining table and directed both parties to meet on June 5, 7 and 14. On May 31, CUPE 1004 cancelled their first strike vote.

Over the course of the early June meetings, the City re-tabled an offer to the union (June 7) and, in response to union concerns, tabled a second, updated offer the following week (June 14). In the days immediately following the June 14 meeting, CUPE 1004 re-filed notice of a strike vote, and on June 21, members voted 96% in favour of a strike.

The City continued to attempt to avert job action, requesting an opportunity for mediated meetings to take place. On June 27 and July 5, meetings took place at the LRB, through a mediator. After the July 5 meeting, CUPE 1004 requested the mediator ‘book out’ (discontinue facilitating meetings), and on July 10 served the City with 72 hour strike notice. Strike action did not commence on July 13, since the LRB had not completed the process of ruling on which City services would be declared Essential Services. This process was completed on July 16.

In a final attempt to avert labour disruptions, the City wrote to CUPE 1004 (July 13) and requested additional mediated meetings. On July 16, CUPE simultaneously agreed to a meeting, which took place on Tuesday, July 17, and re-served 72 hour strike notice. The City was surprised at the July 17 meeting, when CUPE 1004 negotiators attended – accompanied by a number of union representatives of various bargaining units from across the lower mainland.

After a full day of mediated discussions on July 17, it was clear that there was a significant distance between the two parties. The wage and benefit position put forward by CUPE 1004 left the City with no basis for further bargaining. CUPE 1004
members began job action early on Thursday, July 19.

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