CUPE contract impasse goes to mediation

Civic workers in Delta have gone without a contract since 2011

Delta’s municipal workers have filed for mediation in contract negotiations that have been deadlocked between the municipality and the union representing their employees for over a year now.

Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 454 have requested a mediator be called in to settle the dispute. A mediator is different from an arbitrator in that it involves a neutral third party resolving issues between parties in a non-legally binding manner.

The two sides last met Nov. 8 at the Delta Town and Country Inn, but management walked away from the table indicating it would need further direction from Delta council.

“It’s not going well but we are hopeful we can reach an agreement very quickly when and if we get can back to the table,” Local 454 president Darryl Robison said  Wednesday. “That’s been the problem, there’s been a lack of availability and unwillingness from what we see on the part of the employer to sit down and talk about the issues and work through them.”

Robison said both the union and employer have dropped some demands but there are still some major issues left to be settled, mainly surrounding annual wage increases and “very minor benefit improvements.”

Robison said the offer made by the union is consistent with the settlement patterns between other municipalities and their civic workers, which is roughly a wage increase of two per cent a year.

“We think we’re fair. We’re fully aware of the New West settlement and the Vancouver settlement,” said Robison, adding those jurisdictions received compensation in other areas for accepting less than the provincial average.

The union says management isn’t willing to return to the negotiating table until mid-December, which Robison finds frustrating.

“We’re available to meet tomorrow if need be.”

The union represents more than 850 civic employees and has been without a contract since the end of 2011. Delta is negotiating directly with its employees after leaving the Metro Vancouver Labour Relations Bureau in the spring.

Repeated phone calls for comment from Delta’s office of the chief administrative officer went unanswered.

Surrey North Delta Leader