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 - A tentative deal has been reached between the Town of Kensington and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, an agreement that will see six employees who have been locked out of their jobs since Dec. 4 back today.
CUPE national representative Stacy Delaney confirmed Thursday afternoon that after talks throughout the day Wednesday, and again Thursday morning, tentative deal has been reached.
"It has been a rollercoaster ride," said Delaney, who was negotiating on the members' behalf with town manager Geoff Baker.
"Geoff is taking it to his group and I am with my group now. Our hope is to get the people back to work in the morning."
She wouldn't divulge details of the deal, which still has to be ratified, but did say CUPE's members are happy with its terms.
The town and the union will issue a statement Friday, detailing terms of the tentative agreement.
Six members of CUPE Local 4893 have been out in the cold, picketing outside of town hall for a week. Thursday, none of the affected workers were on the picket line.
Those workers - communications technicians, a public works employee and a janitor - are among 12 CUPE members who work for the town that have been without a contract since April.
The other members were uniformed police officers, who, under the province's Labour Act, are exempt from the lockout, and were mandated to remain on the job since they were deemed essential employees.
Negotiations began earlier in the year with the town offering a six-per-cent wage increase over three years, bumping that up to the 7.5-per-cent offer.
The union initially wanted a nine-per-cent wage increase and, Tuesday morning, put an eight-per-cent increase over three years on the table, an offer the town refused.
Wednesday, several options were put on the table by both sides with the parties agreeing to meet again Thursday morning.
At that time, Baker believed that an end to the lockout was in sight and hoped it would happen before week's end.
Delaney said there is a sense of relief among the workers, who didn't want to be on the picket line during the holidays.
"There is some relief and some excitement. They are just ready to start back to work, hopefully, tomorrow and get back into the norm and the regular schedule. We're all pretty excited," said the union representative. "We just kept the conversation going, kept the lines of communication going and kept at it yesterday (Wednesday) and finally came to an agreement."
She added, "We have a lot of people that we have to let know, internally, and we don't want them to hear it elsewhere."
The last 24 hours were key in negotiations, although neither party would divulge what options were on the table that prompted them to come to a deal.
Once ratified, the deal would be retroactive to April 2013, when terms of the previous collective agreement ceased.
"There's been a lot of ups and downs," added Delaney. "It's been a 100-per-cent effort by both parties to come to a tentative agreement. We certainly appreciate that and we have been told by the employer that the appreciate that. Both parties are very content and I am proud to have the tentative agreement before us."