Lower Mainland civic workers launch campaign for fairness: Calling on public to help prevent disruption of civic services

    LOWER MAINLAND, BC, April 23 /CNW/ - Lower mainland civic workers are
launching a campaign to help them secure fair contracts and prevent disruption
of civic services. They are asking the public to put pressure on their civic
politicians to get serious about bargaining, take concessions off the table
and show respect for the work and services they provide across the region. The
workers are represented by CUPE.
    The campaign is called "Fairness for civic workers!" and includes an
action website - www.fairnessforcivicworkers.ca - with information, resources
and action centre. The public is encouraged to help promote fairness by
visiting the online action centre where they can send a letter to all
municipal politicians in their community. They can also sign up by e-mail to
stay tuned for upcoming actions, events and developments in the campaign.
    "This round of bargaining was supposed to be easy," says Anne Coupland,
CUPE Municipal Coordinator and National Representative. "Times are good,
communities are booming, but it looks like someone wants to play games with
the workers that provide the region's vital civic services."
    Most civic workers have been working without a contract since December
2006. In a centralized fashion, the GVRD Labour Relations Bureau negotiates on
behalf of many of the region's civic employers. Talks have stalled in most
places as GVRD bargainers refuse to make meaningful progress.
    Last week, in a letter to GVRD Labour Relations Bureau politicians
(copied to Mayors throughout the region) CUPE civic workers explained that
they feel like they are being pushed into job action in order to get a fair
    In Vancouver, civic workers are facing unheard of concessions. GVRD
bargainers are proposing a wage freeze for some of the city's lowest paid
inside workers, reductions in bargaining unit member rights, reductions in
sick leave, vacation, banked time, and the list goes on. This is in addition
to demands for a 39-month contract, special management rights to accommodate
the Olympics and ongoing contracting-out of work.
    In Delta, the GVRD has refused to continue bargaining and instead is
forcing the Local into mediation. In other communities, such as North
Vancouver, Burnaby and White Rock, GVRD bargainers are pursuing similar
reductions in a range of areas including benefits, callout, sick leave and
    Lower Mainland municipal workers have common goals, which are reflected
at their bargaining tables. They are seeking to address the common challenge
of recruitment and retention, the rising cost of living making it hard for
workers to live in the communities they serve, and the need to extend benefits
to retirees. Included with this, is the need to address the fact that women
workers in municipalities - often "inside" workers, clerical staff and library
workers - have faced wage discrimination that needs to be corrected through
pay equity.
    "These are reasonable demands that are supported by the economy as well
as by public opinion," says Coupland. The BC Central Credit union predicts
hourly labour income increases of 3.7 per cent in 2007 and 3.8 per cent in
2008. When polled in October 2006, Lower Mainland residents told Ipsos-Reid
that three-quarters (75 per cent) support a substantial wage increase for
civic workers to help them afford to live in the communities they work, deal
with training and retention problems, and ensure quality service to residents.
    "On average, municipal revenues are increasing by 5 percent a year in the
Lower Mainland," says Coupland. "Civic services and the workers that provide
them are a priority. Civic workers are the expert planners, plumbing and
building inspectors, pavers and cleaners, among other professions, that are
making the Lower Mainland ready and safe to welcome our international guests
at the 2010 Olympics. In that spirit, they ought to be rewarded for their
excellence, not demoralized by concessions."
    Lower Mainland municipalities, library and police boards, involved in
CUPE's coordinated bargaining efforts include Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam,
Delta, Langley (City & Township), Maple Ridge, New Westminster, North
Vancouver (City, District, Library and Rec Commission), Pitt Meadows and White

    CUPE BC represents over 24,000 municipal workers across British Columbia,
with approximately half employed in Lower Mainland communities.

    For more information, please visit www.fairnessforcivicworkers.ca

For further information:

For further information: Anne Coupland, CUPE National representative,
(604) 291-1940; Jim Gorman, CUPE National representative, (778) 836-6100;
Diane Kalen, Communications representative, (778) 229-0258; Community-specific
contacts can be found at www.fairnessforcivicworkers.ca/contacts

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