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Latest News - June 2014

June 16, 2014
City avoids strike by largest union with new offer
Councillors had called union wage demands unreasonable

Source: Calgary Herald
By: Jason Markusoff

Calgary’s largest municipal union reached a tentative labour deal with the city Monday, days after its members overwhelmingly approved a strike mandate, the Herald has learned.

The 4,000 city inside workers of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 38 will vote next week to ratify the new deal agreement.

“We will be informing our members this week and they will vote next week,” union president Peter Marsden said in a text message.

In weeks of contract negotiations, the two sides were far apart on wage increases — the city offering seven per cent over three years, while the union demanded 10.5 per cent, which Enmax granted its unionized staff.

A strike vote Thursday got more than four-fifths of CUPE 38 to support a possible walkout, but the city immediately invited union leaders back to the bargaining table.

After a short closed-door session Monday morning, council approved changes to the “labour relations mandate" — which is typically code for a new budget allowance to let city negotiators sweeten their offer.

Marsden would not release terms of the new deal Monday, since it hasn’t yet been shared with union members.

The raises given this year and in the next two years may have budget implications that go well beyond what the city’s inside workers earn. The unions for transit drivers, outdoor workers and most other city groups are also bargaining for new contracts this year, and they typically gets wage hikes in line with what the largest city group gets.

The indoor workers called for 3.5-per-cent pay hikes this year and in each of the new two years. The city countered with 1.8 per cent in 2014 — which is what council granted for non-union staff — followed by 2.2 and 3.0 in the following years.

Many Calgary councillors had been calling CUPE 38’s wage demands unreasonable and too much for city taxpayers — and well beyond consumer inflation rates. Since wages make up a large portion of the city’s operating budget, a higher-than-expected pay increase for unionized staff could add pressure on property taxes or budgetary belt-tightening.

In 2011, when the city last renegotiated a deal with its major unions, CUPE 38 also approved a strike vote but settled without any actual strike action. The last actual walkout was a brief work-to-rule campaign by inside workers in 1997. Transit drivers and mechanics were on strike for 50 days in 2001



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