New Westminster pact sets bar for other municipalities

New Westminster pact sets bar for other municipalities

New Westminster’s contract with public sector workers – the first in Metro Vancouver – has set the bar for other municipalities well beyond the net-zero package accepted by provincial workers.

By Vancouver Sun September 6, 2012 Be the first to post a comment

New Westminster’s contract with public sector workers – the first in Metro Vancouver – has set the bar for other municipalities well beyond the net-zero package accepted by provincial workers.

While the B.C. government has pushed for two-year settlements that constrain wages by mandating no increases unless savings can be found elsewhere, New Westminster reached a contract last week that provides a 6.75-per-cent wage increase over four years.

That, says critics, will make it harder for other Metro municipalities to keep down wage settlements.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Union (CUPE), which represents most municipal workers in B.C., says the New Westminster wage increase is fair as it is less than expected cost-of-living increases.

Most Metro Vancouver municipalities – including Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby – are in negotiations with CUPE after five-year deals ended on Dec. 31, 2011.

“New Westminster’s the first (contract). That will end up being the starting point for these others – plus a little bit more,” said Jordan Bateman, B.C. director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

The federation, which advocates for lower taxes, supports two-year, net-zero contracts for B.C. municipal workers.

It’s particularly troubling that the New Westminster wage increase follows a five-year, 17.5-per-cent increase that was brought in for Metro municipalities to buy peace during the Olympics, Bateman said.

The wage increases will now be paid for by property tax increases, he said.

New Westminster workers will receive a 1.25 per cent increase this year, 1.75 per cent in each of the next two years and two per cent in 2015.

CUPE local 387 business agent George Habib called it a fair contract for the 650 New Westminster workers it covers. Habib cautioned against com-paring contracts for municipal workers with other public sector employees, saying they have different wage and benefit histories.

Mark Hancock, secretary-treasurer for CUPE’s B.C. division, argued the wage increases must be taken in the context of the average full-time municipal worker’s annual income of $36,000.

“We don’t find this out of line at all – 6.75 over four years is really a drop in the bucket,”

The New Westminster wage increase is also less than a three-per-cent private sector increase in 2012 in Canada – and a forecast 3.2 per cent increase in 2013 – reported recently by human resources consulting firm Mercer, Han-cock noted.

The City of New Westminster also says it got a good deal.

It’s a contract that brings labour peace and caps costly extended health and dental benefits at existing levels, according to a staff report.

New Westminster mayor Wayne Wright could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Metro Vancouver municipalities used to negotiate under the umbrella of the labour relations bureau set up in the mid-1960s.

However, the bureau broke apart in the 2007 round of negotiations when Richmond reached a side deal with its unions for a five-year deal with a total 17.5-per-cent wage increase. Most Metro municipalities followed suit.

Some municipalities outside the Lower Mainland are taking an aggressive approach to reducing costs and keeping public sector wages down.

In Penticton, a contract reached with CUPE workers last year was kept to 3 per cent over four years. Penticton also cut 31 union and management positions from a total of 280.

ghoekstra@vancouversun.com

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COMMENT:

I think it is quite clear that the economy is in midst of  a tailspin, and as such all bets are off re:  any jobs, job security and tax  revenue sources.

Does this not have the appearance of a well co-ordinated effort , certainly by the unions, as well as the Cities ? Under this old scam, the other Cities are supposed to follow suit to this increase as a term of reference…..like it is “written in stone”?.

Why would the politicians   give a dam, its NOT their money, In fact, once they bribe the civic employees with a raise, what often happens is the salaried staff have “me too”  contracts, and then the even politicians start getting raises also down the road, as their own council salaries for what should be a part time job exceeds that of the average full time job.

 

This game of leapfrog is really quite an insult to the hard working citizens

Duly note the perfect timing….not even a year after the civic elections, and ( 2 ) years before the next elections.

This does NOT obligate the other cities  to follow and match New Westminsters’  lead ….duly note they once had  umbrella negotiations for all cities . In other words, any/all remaining cities could say ZERO  ZERO an ZERO. That would teach New West a lesson, and be quite amusing.

 

I have no idea where they get the figure that the private sector has wage increase of approx. 3%., in the sense that no -one I know in the private sector has received that.  We are talking private sector unions as well, and the private sector has no where near the job security as public sector.

You see, in this racket, one City breaks ranks, and the scam is that other Cities follow suit…but not every City has a citizen base able to afford it , again, this is an arrogant assumption and imposition on others.

The contracts ran out at the end of last year,ie Dec .2011 ,  one month after  to the Nov. 2011 civic elections….there was nothing to stop various Cities from negotiating BEFORE the elections…and thus show the citizens that OUR best interest were in play…so why didn’t they ? 

Or…why do all the contracts run out at the same time , so this us  too “leapfrog” can start ? The contracts  expiries could be staggered .You match increases if its a competitive environment, not a monopoly. If they don’t like the pay…resign…. there are many people who could fill the job . These types of deals will create a lot of resentment as more people join ranks of the unemployed. It creates a growing THEM versus US scenario

 

 

Answer is our politicians have no guts and find the path of least resistance.

 

Again, this is all set up so that the Citizens are played for suckers to extort.

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