City and union reach four-year deal

The City of Estevan and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 726 have reached a new collective bargaining agreement that includes a four per cent wage increase spread out over four years.

CUPE represents the city’s unionized staff members.

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The current three-year deal between the two sides was scheduled to expire on Dec. 31. This marks the second straight negotiation in which the city and CUPE have come to terms on a new pact before the existing agreement expires.

City manager Jeff Ward characterized the negotiations as respectful.

“I think everyone in the room appreciated the current climate in Estevan, and was working towards something that both sides could be satisfied with,” Ward said in an interview with the Mercury.  

Negotiations started in the middle of October, and the two sides met three times before reaching an agreement.

A tentative agreement was in place in mid-November, and was approved by both sides before the end of the month.

“We hashed out some items together, and obviously I think there is a good working relationship between the management … and the union staff and executive,” said Ward.

Pauline Robillaird, president of CUPE Local 726, said the members were satisfied with the new contract. No further details were released from the union.

There will be no wage increase in the first year of the agreement, but there is a commitment to complete a joint job evaluation.

“There is a group from management as well as a group from the union, and what they’re doing is looking at all conditions and rankings of jobs within the union, and then they come with the recommendation to management as well as the union just to really understand the job qualifications, the job conditions and really look at all facets of the job to make sure they’re ranked accordingly,” said Ward.

There will also be a one per cent increase in the second year, and a 1 1/2 per cent increase in the third and fourth years.

The proposed wage increase came from the city.

No other details from the new CBA were released.

“It was pretty status quo,” said Ward. “We did a lot of … clarifications in the last union negotiations, so we just continued to work on that collectively. Obviously we worked on some clarification to make sure the interpretation was the same on both sides as we move forward, but then everyone worked very respectfully together and it was great to see something come together so quickly before the other one expires.”

 

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