White Rock city workers begin historic strike

White Rock city workers begin historic strike

WHITE ROCK — Striking city workers rallied outside of White Rock city hall Friday, kicking off the city’s first-ever civic job action.

With about 30 CUPE 402-01 workers walking off the job Friday morning, city hall continued to operate with about half its staff while unionized counterparts set up shop outside.

As the first day of action was intended to affect only city hall, services impacted included bylaw enforcement and tax processing, among other city hall related duties. In an effort to continue some form of bylaw enforcement, city managers and administrators were out ensuring pay parking and other bylaws were being maintained.

“We have no concerns with bylaw and parking enforcement,” said city manager Dan Bottrill at city hall Friday. “We respect and value our employees and the fact that it’s being conducted in this matter is what we expected anyways. These are our friends and colleagues, too. We’ll be working together again, it’s just a matter of when.”

When asked if the city had approached the union about getting back to the bargaining table, Bottrill said there were no further dates set at this time.

“Remember that the union left the table, they walked away from us Sunday and initiated job action, they were the ones that left so it’s unfortunate,” he said. “We’re hopeful that they’re prepared to come back.”

Outside, striking workers were joined by fellow CUPE members from Surrey, Langley, North Vancouver and Fraser Valley Regional Library as they prepared to hold a rally. With CUPE BC President Mark Hancock and CUPE Surrey president Jeannie Kilby also present, White Rock CUPE president Mike Guraliuk took to the megaphone.

“We started this process about 10 months ago. We thought we’d be getting a fair collective agreement not making history, but brothers and sisters, I can tell you for sure if it takes history to make a fair collective agreement, history we will make,” he said.

Highlighting the issues of “clear work hours, fair treatment for casual and part time employees and long term disability,” Guraliuk implored White Rock council to put pressure on the administration to come to an agreement soon.

“The best protection we have is us, solidarity and a strong CUPE union, this is what solidarity is all about.”

Following Friday’s action, Guraliuk said the next services to be affected would be operations which would likely be sometime next week.

“So that will impact garbage, recycling and road works,” he said. A ban on overtime for all White Rock CUPE members will also be implemented on May 5th.

Finally, when asked about coming to an agreement, Guraliuk said the city had not yet approached them about any further bargaining.

“We’re always available to talk with the city. We’re here and open we’re willing to go back and talk with the city anytime, we’re just waiting for them to call.”

Union workers voted 94 per cent in favour of striking in February and served their notice last Tuesday. Any further job action does not require further notices to be served.

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