'It would be a disaster': Thousands of Winnipeg city workers inch closer to strike mandate
CTV Winnipeg has learned the city’s latest proposal consists of a one-year wage freeze, followed by one per cent increases over the next two years and a 1.25 per cent increase in year four. (File Image)
Published Tuesday, June 6, 2017 1:05PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, June 6, 2017 3:56PM CST
Members of the city’s largest union are being told the city wants them to take a wage freeze.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees is meeting to discuss the city’s latest offer and prepare for a vote that could authorize a strike mandate.
CTV Winnipeg has learned the city’s latest proposal consists of a one-year wage freeze, followed by one per cent increases over the next two years and a 1.25 per cent increase in year four.
“We know the city is getting the same amount of funding that they have in the past. For them to be crying poverty, I don’t think this is the time for them to do this,” said CUPE Local 500 President Gord Delbridge.
CUPE held an information session for members at the RBC Convention Centre Tuesday morning and will be holding another one Tuesday night.
Members will vote to authorize a strike mandate on Wednesday. Voting is expected to wrap up around 5:30 p.m.
The union said it wants to get back to the bargaining table with the city, but wants to consult with members first on how to proceed.
Delbridge said CUPE members have been treated like “third-rate citizens”.
“This was unprecedented, this round of bargaining. We’ve never seen anything like it before.”
If members authorize a strike, workers will have a mandate to start preparing for a strike and set a strike date.
SIGNIFICANT IMPACT TO CITY SERVICES
Delridge said if workers were to go on strike, the impact would be significant and would involve more than 4,000 workers. He said a strike would impact everything from roads, infrastructure, parks, permits, and city beautification.
CUPE said a strike could mean city splash pads could get turned off, grass cutting at city parks could cease, while city beautification projects could be halted, music at festivals in city parks would not get hooked up, and pothole repairs and tree pruning could be put on hold.
It said 311 services would be affected as well, including complaints to the water departments or a complaint about a neighbour. People, businesses or community organizations looking for a city permit may face delays, too.
Libraries could also close, but could be opened if the city brings in its own supervisor, CUPE said.
Garbage would not be affected because it is contracted out.
“We’ve never, ever been on strike before, so I don’t think people realize the extent on the impacts that this would have on the day-to-day lives of Winnipeggers”.
“It would be a disaster. There’s a lot going on in the City of Winnipeg over the summer. We’ve got festivals and summer games”
“We think the services our members bring to these events coming up are valuable … We want to be there and provide these services so people can enjoy their summer.”
CITY PREPARING FOR POSSIBLE STRIKE
In a statement to CTV Winnipeg, the city said it is continuing to make preparations in the event that CUPE Local 500 decides to go on strike.
“The City will continue to provide essential services to the citizens of Winnipeg, including safe drinking water and other public safety measures (Police, Fire, and Paramedics),” the statement said.
“The City recognizes the important work performed by all of our staff in CUPE, and remains committed to finding an agreement that is fair and reasonable to all parties, including Winnipeg taxpayers.”