The City of Saskatoon’s unionized water and wastewater treatment plant workers have rejected the City’s latest attempt to solidify a contract, despite having been without one since the end of 2016.
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local No. 47, which also represents Saskatoon’s meter shop and environmental protection officers, conducted a two day ratification vote on June 24 and 26, but 93% of members rejected the City’s offer.
“The City’s offer was filled with concessions and extremely poor wage increases. Our members have made it clear: we stand together against concessions,” said Troy Daw, president of CUPE Local No. 47, in a statement to media.
Saskatoon continues to struggle with forming new collective agreements. All but one of the City’s collective agreements with its unions have been expired for more than a year.
CUPE Local No. 47 water workers current collective agreement expired at the end of 2016, at which time a water service technician made an annual salary of $73,059.
According to CUPE, one of the most contentious issues involves the elimination of “hours of work” language bargained in previous agreements. This means that workers may not have secure hours of work, which will impact work and life balance for water workers.
“Our water workers always step up to the plate when the City requests them to alter hours of work in emergencies and for special projects,” explained Daw. “Many Local 47 members have young families and want the ability to have some level of work and life balance. Balance can only be achieved through secure hours of work language in the collective agreement,” he added.
CUPE has about 130 workers at Saskatoon’s water and wastewater treatment plants.
The City of Saskatoon is seeking approval for a deal with its outside workers, the first of its groups of expired union contracts to be settled.
Among others, Saskatoon Public Library workers have also been without a contract since 2016.