A union representing Capital Regional District workers says its members have voted 98 per cent in favour of strike action as they push to address “key outstanding issues,” including wage increases.
CUPE Local 1978 represents about 1,400 members in the Greater Victoria area, including 1,000 people who work for the CRD, and said Wednesday that a new contract between the two parties had not yet been reached.
According to the union, bargaining started in March 2022 before they reached impasse in late September, with mediation dates now set for Nov. 9 and 10.
“In more than seven months of bargaining we have made minimal progress and our employer has been unwilling to discuss our members’ core issues,” said Tom Benjamin, CUPE Local 1978 president, in a news release.
“CRD workers, like many members of our community, are facing affordability challenges. We need the CRD to take these challenges seriously and work towards real solutions that benefit both parties.”
Benjamin says members are hoping for a wage increase that addresses the pressure of inflation, benefit increases to support worker health and mental health, and scheduling changes that protect workers’ abilities to fulfill family commitments.
“Our members have told us loud and clear that their bargaining priorities haven’t changed,” Benjamin said, noting that essential service levels would need to be negotiated and the union would have to serve 72-hour strike notice before taking any strike action.
Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association, the CRD’s bargaining agent, tells CHEK News that negotiations have been “respectful” and the parties have reached “some agreement” to clarify the terms and conditions of the collective agreement for both employer and employees.
“We are committed to reaching a fair settlement. There are still some outstanding issues on which the two sides haven’t reached agreement,” the GVLRA said. “While the Union has since sought a strike mandate, the mediation process must take place prior to any Union job action.”
The association says it will continue to work toward settling outstanding issues through the negotiation and mediation process in the best interests of the CRD, their employees, and local residents.
“Strike action is always a last resort, and we don’t want to be in a position where community services are disrupted,” added Benjamin.