CUPE Local 486, representing close to 140 City of Saint John held a press conference today to announce a significant development in their ongoing negotiations with the City. Members have voted overwhelmingly in favor of strike action, with 94% in favor.
“Back in December 2021, our previous contract expired. Following almost two years of unproductive negotiations, management has brought us to an impasse,” stated Brittany Doyle, President of CUPE Local 486.
“Despite our sincere efforts to reach an agreement at the bargaining table, the City is intent on enforcing a contract that falls below the cost of living and violates the City’s own Wage Escalation Policy. This essentially amounts to a wage reduction for us,” she added. “Management’s stance lacks reason. We are simply advocating for fairness; asking for a cost-of-living adjustment is not an unreasonable request,” voiced Doyle.
While the City of Saint John is experiencing growth in both population and revenue, municipal services have yet to catch up. “Despite a 15% increase in tax base the last two years that has added a staggering $123 million increase in tax base revenue, the City also has hidden $37.5 million in a slush fund. The City cannot justify why it will not honor its commitment to its own Wage Escalation Policy to “use the three-year rolling average of the assessment-based growth in negotiations for fair, predictable and affordable wage increases. The City is now reneging on their own Policy for this group of City workers, after voluntarily sharing it with others” expressed Michael Davidson, CUPE Servicing Representative. “The City is unreasonably forcing this group of workers to take a strike vote to get the City to honor their own policy” he continued.
“During the City’s years of financial crisis, we played our part in contributing to cost reductions, particularly in pension conversions, wages restraints, and reduced services, we were an integral part of the sustainability plan” noted Doyle. Management possesses the resources to offer just wages to workers. “The City is now reneging on their promise and cannot be trusted, we don’t know why they will not honor their own policy” added Doyle, “We don’t know why the City is forcing a needless strike on the Citizens and businesses in Saint John”.
“We hope the City comes to their senses and negotiates a fair and reasonable wage package that reflects a balance between wage escalation and cost of living and avoids an unnecessary strike” concluded Doyle.
The members of CUPE Local 486 work in clerical, administrative, support, IT, and technical roles, encompassing various municipal services including Police, Fire and 911 Dispatch, Court Services, Recreation, Customer Services, By-Law Enforcement, Financial Services, Permits, and many more.