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City of Williams Lake For Immediate Release
February 13, 2013
Tel: 250-392-2311 Fax: 250-392-4408 450 Mart Street Williams Lake, BC V2G 1N3
City Issued 72 Hour Strike Notice by Union
Negotiations between the City of Williams Lake and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 882-B, which represents the majority of front line City workers, have broken down and the City has been issued 72 hour strike notice by the Union. The Union will be in a position to strike as early as 2:16 pm on Saturday, February 16, 2013. The City of Williams Lake will do everything it can to minimize the effects of this job action on residents and is hopeful that the Union will return to the bargaining table, and that this job action can be resolved as soon as possible. Issues in Negotiations Throughout this negotiation process the City has been attempting to address several key issues we believe are in the best interest of our taxpayers. The City wants to ensure the sustainability of the City’s operations. One of the City’s key issues under the current Collective Agreement is call out pay. Employees who are called in for any reason receive eight (8) hours of pay (4 hours pay at double time) regardless of the length of time they work. Many of these call outs require an hour, or less, of work. The City currently spends approximately $250,000 per year for overtime and the large majority of this cost is from this call-out pay. The City has made an offer to the Union to address its concerns about call out pay that it feels is more than fair, and in-line with industry standards. The Union currently has 28 positions that are guaranteed no lay-offs in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Although this MOU severely ties the hands of the City and reduces the City’s flexibility in efficiently using its workforce, especially in shoulder seasons where there is reduced work, and increases overall operating costs, the City has indicated that it is willing to sign this MOU but that it would require movement by the Union on the call out pay issue. A second issue of the City is the requirement to pay for benefits for seasonal employees during periods of lay off. The City feels that this practice is not sustainable. While refusing to recognize the City’s need to reduce some of the unnecessary expenses in the collective agreement, the Union is asking for four (4) additional paid days off which includes two new personal days and two new additional sick days in addition to the 8 sick days they already receive. The City has offered to adjust the current sick days that employees receive to allow them to take this time off to care for their children when they are sick.
The Union has asked for improvements to its health and benefit program that would cost the City over $110,000.00 per year, including a Pay Direct Prescription Card. The City has responded that it would be amenable to offering the Prescription Card to employees. The City feels that the current Health and Welfare package is very fair to employees and not affordable. In these negotiations, the City has agreed to increase meal and boot allowances, increase the rates for Working Foremen and Lead Hand designated employees as well as employees in positions requiring a journeyman trade certification. The City felt that significant progress was being made in negotiations on Tuesday and hopes that the Union returns to the table. The Labour Relations Board has appointed a mediator that remains ready to meet with the parties and help them resolve a collective agreement. To date, the Union has refused to have a mediator involved. During the current job action the City will continue to provide updates to the public through the media and City website as much as possible. – 30 – For more information, contact: Ashley Williston Manager of Human Resources 250-392-2311