CUPE outraged Miller chose to negotiate a strike deal in public
Unions present counterproposal to city in private
By Kris Scheuer
The city’s striking unions are keeping their cards close to their chests by not revealing the counter-offer they will be presenting a response to Mayor David Miller’s latest offer tonight.
Miller made the city’s offer public at a press conference held earlier today, click here for that story.
Mark Ferguson, president of local 416, told the Town Crier he is not impressed with the city’s strategy of bargaining in public.
“The long and the short of it is we are disgusted the city would result to this strategy instead of bargaining (in private),” Ferguson said July 10. “The strategy was ill advised.”
Union locals 416 and 79, on strike since June 22, represent city workers employed in various municipal departments, including garbage collection and parks and recreation.
He said the unions have reviewed the city’s latest offer of wage increases of one percent this year, followed by one percent next year, two percent in 2011 and three percent in 2012.
“We are disappointed the city’s wage (offer) is wholly inadequate,” Ferguson said.
A more reasonable offer is pay hikes of three percent or more yearly, which is more in line with what other unions have received from the city, he added.
“We don’t believe our members are second class citizens,” he said.
Another major piece of the city’s last offer is to buy out some of employees banked sick days and, as of Nov. 1, move to a new system of short-term disability of up to six months annually.
“The different system the city’s proposing is a far inferior system,” Ferguson said. “Sick benefits don’t always kick in on the first day. There are some pro-rated components. Our position is we aren’t interested in this proposal.”
The city has posted the proposal to unions on its site.
Ferguson said the union will be responding with its own plan, but preferred to exchange details with city negotiators in private.
Pat Daley, a spokesperson for both striking CUPE locals, said the union will not be taking the city’s latest offer to its members for a vote, but it will respond directly to the city with a counter-offer.
“The (union) locals will present offers to the employer,” she said. “We expect them (the city) to respond to that.”
Ferguson wrote a July 10 letter to members of CUPE local 416 expressing his displeasure with the city’s move and posted it online for all to read.
(Originally written July 10/09 and posted at www.mytowncrier.ca)