“What is fair?”
That is the question which has guided the council of the Village of Telkwa since we began considering the Village’s collective agreement with CUPE Local 1570-02 (the Village’s unionized workforce).
Our council has thoroughly reviewed the most recent agreement (which expired nearly 10 months ago) as well as the progressive increases that Local 1570-02’s membership has received over the term of the past three agreements (nine years). Many months ago, we made a firm offer of the same compensation package as that which was in place in 2016 (the last year of the most recent collective agreement), for a term of three years.
Our negotiations with the Union over the past 10 months have been extremely frustrating, and we are heading into the winter months with no agreement in place. Now there is the looming threat of a work stoppage that would punish Telkwa residents who are already paying disproportionately high taxes and charges compared to most other small B.C. municipalities.
Over the terms of the past three agreements (nine years), the annual compensation increases for CUPE Local 1570-02 members have far exceeded the Consumer Price Index (rate of inflation). Currently, the lowest paid employee of the Village of Telkwa receives a base rate of $21.67 an hour. When calculated assuming a 35-hour work week, their annual compensation is $39, 439. This compensation alone is well above the median income of the average British Columbian. In addition, CUPE Local 1570-02 members receive the following benefits:
• 12 Paid statutory holidays a year (or overtime rates when working these days)
• Up to 18 paid sick days a year, accumulative to up to 160 days;
• Paid vacation days of between 15 and 35 days a year, or payment in lieu of between six and 14 per cent of their gross pay, which far exceeds the provincial requirements for most employees;
• ‘Dirty pay’ premium for certain tasks;
• B.C. Medical Services Plan premiums paid in full by the Village;
• A comprehensive family extended health plan;
• Long-term disability coverage;
• Paid bereavement leave;
• A municipal pension plan to supplement the Canada Pension Plan;
• Provision of paid training (both cost of training, paid travel and expenses, and regular wages);
• Clothing allowance: $250/year for work boots.
Our council feels that we are being supportive of our employees and respectful of their contributions with this compensation package. The refusal of CUPE Local 1570-02 to accept our offer to extend this agreement for three more years indicates that they consider it unfair.
We believe that the objective of unionization is to ensure that union members receive fair treatment and equitable compensation for their work in a safe and respectful environment. The collective agreement offer from the Village of Telkwa clearly meets this objective.
In fact, our employees aren’t just keeping up with the average resident of Telkwa. They’ve lapped them. And it’s time to give our hard working, taxpaying residents the opportunity to catch up.
The most recent collective agreement between the Village of Telkwa and CUPE Local 1570-02 is available for review on line at http://www.lrb.bc.ca/cas/WVW32.pdf.
Telkwa Council encourages our residents to review the agreement and provide their feedback. Mayor Darcy Repen can be reached by phone at (250)846-9008 or by email at email@example.com