Four-year agreement ends strike in White Rock

WHITE ROCK – After three weeks of job action, the city’s first civic strike is finally over after a four-year deal has been stuck between striking CUPE Local 402-01 workers and the city.

The deal was reached after a Friday bargaining session proved successful, following a previously unsuccessful one earlier in the week.

CUPE workers voted more than 80 per cent in favour of ratifying the agreement Saturday, and will be back to work today (June 3).

“We made some important gains but CUPE also moved significantly and we were very flexible on finding common ground,” said CUPE 402-01 President Mike Guraliuk Saturday. “We understood that job action is hard on White Rock residents. We were encouraged that the city came back to the table yesterday ready to address some key concerns.”

Highlights from the agreement, include an increase to 11 per cent from eight per cent pay in lieu of health benefits for part-time and casual workers, information required for a union-administered and employee paid long-term disability plan to be put in place, and 6.75 per cent wage increase over four years. The agreement expires December 31, 2015.

Guraliuk said that the union was disappointed that they were not able to address the need for clear hours of work for all employees.

“That’s bargaining, neither side gets everything they’re going for and we would have liked the inside hours of work, but we’re bargaining again in 18 months,” he said.

Asked if the strike would affect future relations between the union and city, Guraliuk said that would not be the case.

“Oh god no, we’re all professionals so it’s just bargaining, that’s all,” he said.

White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin said the city was relieved that the dispute was finally over and said pressure on both sides led to them coming to a mutual agreement.

“We’re very happy that we got through it and I think because it was not an arbitrated settlement it was one that both parties should be happy with,” said Baldwin.

“There was pressure on both sides, their main weapon was to withhold services and ours was to withhold wages. We of course heard from residents wanting this to be resolved quickly and Friday would have been the first day that the union members would not have had a paycheque, so both sides were feeling it.

“We would have liked to give a bit less and I’m sure the union would have liked to have gotten a bit more but we both realized that wasn’t going to happen. It’s just unfortunate that we had to go through a strike to get to that point.”

“We’re glad to be back at work,” said Guraliuk. “Everybody is kind of disappointed that we weren’t back (Monday). People just want to get back to work and serve the citizens.”

CUPE 402-01 workers went on strike May 12 after nearly a year of negotiation and being without contract since December 2011.