CUPE Negotiations with the City Hit a Snag

A quick but ominous press release was fired off from City Hall late today saying that the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) locals 241, 973 and 1946 have requested a “no board” report be filed with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. It means that the parties involved are basically not close to making a deal, but more ominously, it starts a three week countdown to potential job action.

What does a “no board” report mean exactly? The definition, as taken from from one of CUPE’s own manuals, is, “a report filed by the conciliator if the process of conciliation fails. Filing the report triggers a 17 working day (generally 21 calendar days) cooling off period before a strike/lockout deadline.”

So after 12 meetings since the beginning of February, CUPE and the City are saying that they’ve reached an impasse. “We are at the table and continue to work towards reaching settlements that are fair to our employees, affordable for taxpayers and provide efficient and effective services for the public,” said David Godwaldt, general manager, Human Resources for the City of Guelph in a press release.

Godwaldt’s comments reflect the party line (so to speak) since council first issued direction to staff about negotiations with the over 600 outside workers, office staff, and library workers in question. “Council was clear in its direction,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie in a statement. “We hope and expect to negotiate a contract that is fair to our employees whose work we value every day as they deliver exceptional programs and services to our community; reasonable and affordable for our citizens and recognizes the City’s capacity to pay; and aligned with settlements of other unionized employee groups.”

Evidently, there are two more bargaining dates have been scheduled for March 31 and April 1, but with a “no board’ report on file with the ministry it seems rather unlikely that any great breakthrough is going to occur. As for the exact issues hamstringing the two sides, it’s unknown. Neither CUPE nor the City, as policy, “negotiate through the media.”

The City says though that “in the event of a strike or lockout, there are contingency plans in place to minimize inconvenience to the community.” Hopefully this is not the same people that “planned” for the “contingency” in the event of the transit lockout. (Just saying.)

“We value our employees and the work they do to bring exceptional programs and services to our community,” added Godwaldt. “We want to work with the CUPE negotiation team and we want to reach a collective agreement — as soon as possible.”

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