UPDATED: Town and union reach tentative deal

Nancy
Nancy MacPhee
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Workers will be back on the job Friday

KENSINGTON — A tentative deal has been reached between the Town of Kensington and CUPE, which will see six employees who have been locked out of their jobs since Dec. 4 back to work Friday morning.

Unionized workers employed by the town of Kensington were locked out Wednesday. Among those on the picket lines were (from left) Les Thomas, the town's Public Works employee, Stacy Delaney, CUPE staff representative, Andrew Griffen, police officer and president of CUPE Local 4893, and Jed Burt, supporting CUPE member from Local 3324.

CUPE national representative Stacy Delaney confirmed Thursday afternoon that after talks throughout the day and into the evening Wednesday, which continued Thursday morning, a tentative deal has been reached.

“It has been a rollercoaster ride,” said Delaney, who was negotiating on the members’ behalf with town manager Geoff Baker. “Geoff is taking it to his group and I am with my group now. Our hope is to get the people back to work in the morning.”

She wouldn’t divulge details of the deal, which still has to be ratified by both sides, but did say CUPE’s members are happy with its terms.

The town and the union will issue release Friday detailing terms of the agreement.

Six members of CUPE Local 4893 have been out in the cold, picketing outside of town hall for a week. Thursday, none of the affected workers were on the picket line.

Those workers — communications technicians, a public works employee and a janitor — are among 12 CUPE members who work for the town that have been without a contract since April.

The other members were uniformed police officers, who, under the province’s Labour Act, are exempt from the lockout, and were mandated to remain on the job since they were deemed essential employees.

Negotiations began earlier in the year with the town offering a six-per-cent wage increase over three years, bumping that up to the 7.5-per-cent offer. The union initially wanted a nine-per-cent wage increase and, Tuesday morning, put an eight-per-cent increase over three years on the table, an offer the town refused.

Wednesday, several options were put on the table by both sides with the parties agreeing to meet again Thursday morning.

At that time, Baker believed that an end to the lockout was in sight and hoped it would happen before week’s end.

Delaney said there is a sense of relief among the workers, who didn’t want to be on the picket line during the approaching holidays.

“There is some relief and some excitement. They are just ready to start back to work, hopefully, tomorrow and get back into the norm and the regular schedule. We’re all pretty excited,” said the union representative. “We just kept the conversation going, kept the lines of communication going and kept at it yesterday (Wednesday) and finally came to an agreement.

She added, “We have a lot of people that we have to let know, internally, and we don’t want them to hear it elsewhere.”

The last 24 hours were key in negotiations, although neither party would divulge what options were on the table that prompted them to come to a deal.

The deal, once ratified, would be retroactive to April 2013, when terms of the previous collective agreement ceased.

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs,” added Delaney. “It’s been a 100-per-cent effort by both parties to come to a tentative agreement. We certainly appreciate that and we have been told by the employer that the appreciate that. Both parties are very content and I am proud to have the tentative agreement before us.”

 

nmacphee@journalpioneer.com

 

Organizations: CUPE

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