Town says 7.5 per cent wage increase over three years is its final offer
Unionized members of the Town of Kensington’s workforce and their supporters walk a picket line outside town hall on Monday. Linda Jones, left, does not work for the town but is a member of CUPE, she took time out of her day to support town employees, like Vicki Campbell, right. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer
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.
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.
After what Baker called a three-minute meeting, the offer was refused and the meeting ended with Delaney and Griffin walking out.
“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 initially started with town offering the union a six per cent wage increase over three years, bumping that up to the latest offer, which was first presented to the union last week and refused, prompting the lockout.
The union initially wanted a nine per cent wage increase over three years.
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. After five days of bargaining in May, both sides were unable to reach an agreement and the union filed for conciliation.
Three days of conciliation were held in September and October, with little success, which promoted Justice Minister Janice Sherry to refer the matter to a board of arbitration.
In late November, the town presented the union with the 7.5 per cent offer, which was rejected last Monday. The next day, Baker informed the union that the town would be looking out the six employees Wednesday morning.
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 that the offer put to the union is more than fair, adding that the town wants the public to know that it is a fair employer.
“We are at seven and a half per cent, structured at a two per cent increase in year one, two and a half in year two and three per cent in year three, on-call pay for the part-time police officers and a three-year term,” said the town manager. “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 from the seven and a half per cent.”
He reiterated that, moving forward, his door would remain open to the union.
“We are willing to sit down and continue discussion. That being said, there is no willingness from our end to move any further than what we already have,” added Baker. “For myself, I will continue working as usual and the business affairs of the town have to be taken care of and that’s where my priority is right now.”
Delaney could not be reached for comment.