Both parties to meet again Wednesday morning
KENSINGTON — The Town of Kensington’s latest and “final” offer to CUPE of a 7.5 per cent wage increase over three years has been rejected.
© Nancy MacPhee/Journal Pioneer
Kensington's town manager Geoff Baker
The offer, presented to CUPE representatives Stacy Delaney and Andrew Griffin by town manager Geoff Baker at a brief meeting early Tuesday morning, also included on-call pay for part-time police officers.
“The union put the eight per cent deal on the table yesterday. A discussion was held at council last evening. I met with the union this morning at approximately 9:30 and informed the union that our offer of 7.5 per cent, on-call pay to part-time police officers and a three-year term is our final offer,” Baker said Tuesday afternoon. “It is our final offer. I did indicate to them that my door is always open if they do want to continue discussions in that regard.”
Contract negotiations began earlier this year between the two sides, with the town offering the union a six per cent wage increase over three years, bumping that up to the latest offer, the same offer presented to the union prior to the lockout. The union refused that offer, which prompted the town to lock out its employees last Wednesday morning.
The union initially wanted a nine per cent wage increase over three years.
“Yesterday (Monday) we put a few different options on the table. From the union’s perspective, they were good offers,” said Delaney Tuesday evening. “The latest offer (from the town), it is frustrating. The purpose of the lockout was that they were at a stance and we were at a stance. When we agreed to go back to the table we were kind of hoping that the willingness was there from both parties.”
Delaney said a second meeting was held with the employer in the afternoon where the union put “other options” — the details of which she would not divulge — on the table for consideration.
“We were trying to think outside the box and trying to figure out what can we do here to meet the needs of both parties. We put a few other things on the table and we are going to discuss those in the morning,” she added. “The goal is to get these people back to work but we both have needs that we want to meet.”
Six members of CUPE Local 4893 have been on the picket line, locked out by the town from their jobs, since 8 a.m. last Wednesday.
The unionized employees have been without a contract since April of this year.
Six uniformed officers with the town’s police department are members of CUPE Local 4893 but, under the provincial Labour Act, are still on the job, mandated to work, since they are deemed essential employees. The members locked out are communications technicians, a janitor and a public works employee.
Baker said Tuesday afternoon that the offer put to the union earlier in the day is more than fair, adding the town wants the public to know that it is a fair employer. The 7.5 per cent pay increase offered by the town to the union, if it had been accepted, would amount to two per cent the first year of the contract, 2.5 per cent in the second year and three per cent in the third and final year.
“We feel that a seven and a half per cent, which is fairly smack dab in the middle, was a very fair compromise. That’s why we are not willing to move,” said Baker.
Delaney said that after the afternoon meeting there seemed to be some willingness on the employer’s part to consider the recent options put forward by the union.
“We both put some stuff on the table and said let’s take it away tonight and let’s meet in the morning to see where we go,” she added. “I am optimistic that, hopefully, in the morning we can come to some sort of arrangement. I am not sure if that will happen. The willingness has to be from both parties. It can’t be one-sided.”
Delaney said the union only wants to meet its members’ needs while taking in the consideration of the needs of the employer.
But, she added, the union remains firm, although there has been movement on its part in negotiations, that the 7.5 per cent offer put on the table by the town will not be accepted. The hope, she said, is there is common ground somewhere in the middle.
“Hopefully tomorrow we will have some movement we can share,” said Delaney. “The main message is that we are still communicating. The doors haven’t closed.”