COLD LAKE – NOTE: A day after this release was published, Cold Lake city council reconsidered and unanimously ratified the agreement with AUPE. AUPE withdrew its unfair labour practices complaint and request for mediation.
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees has sought the services of a provincially appointed mediator to help resolve an impasse in negotiations caused when Cold Lake city council members rejected a deal negotiated by their own bargaining committee.
AUPE will also proceed with bargaining in bad faith complaints against the employer, AUPE Staff Negotiator Greg Maruca said today.
“This is an unusual situation,” said Maruca, who leads the Local 118/016 bargaining team that signed a tentative agreement with the city on Oct. 29, 2008. “Cold Lake City Council gave a mandate to its negotiating team, then withdrew it after a council meeting on Nov. 12 attended by four councillors.
“We believe that for council to give its senior management bargaining team a mandate and then refuse to ratify after its committee reached an agreement, is a clear violation of the requirement in Alberta law that collective bargaining be conducted in good faith,” Maruca said.
“However, in the mean time we are anxious to resolve the dispute with a fair collective agreement, so we are prepared to return to the bargaining table with the assistance of a disinterested third party,” he said.
Maruca noted that the city has since put new demands on the bargaining table that were not discussed in negotiations or that contradict positions taken by the city in negotiations.
For example, he said, city council’s demand that employee sick benefits be cut in half was never discussed by the city’s bargaining team, he said.
Maruca said the city’s negotiators indicated during negotiations that money saved because provincial health insurance premiums will no longer have to be paid after January 2009 would be put to an RRSP for employees agreed to in the tentative agreement rejected by council.
“Now council members are acting as if this is new money that must be found somewhere. This is incorrect. This would have been a reallocation of money already in the city budget.”
Maruca noted that the city published a media release on Nov. 19 that stated council “maintains confidence” in its bargaining committee. “Unfortunately, the actions of council undermine its bargaining committee, and no one who has to deal with it can have any confidence that it actually has the authority to sign an agreement.
“This is why a third party is needed if an agreement is to be reached,” he said.
For more information, contact:
Greg Maruca, Union Representative, AUPE, 780-930-3358 or 780-982-1148 (cellular phone)
Cory Mitic, Membership Services Officer, AUPE, 780-930-3343 or 780-966-1205 (cellular phone)
David Climenhaga, Communications Director, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, 780-930-3311 or 780-717-2943 (cellular phone)