In the rush of new information daily about the City of Guelph response to COVID-19, one of the threads that’s gotten lost is the ongoing negotiations between the City, and three of their public workers’ unions to secure a new contract. Well, while we weren’t watching, it turns out that the City and those unions have struck a new tentative agreement.
In a media release late Tuesday afternoon, the City of Guelph announced that they’ve reached a deal with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) locals 241, 973, and 1946. CUPE 973 represents office employees, CUPE 241 represents outside staff, and CUPE 1946 represents library employees, and they’ve been working without a contract since January 31.
“We’re pleased to reach these agreements without any disruption to City programs and services,” said Trevor Lee, the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Corporate Services. “We want to thank the unions for working together to negotiate affordable settlements that protect taxpayers’ interests and provide fair, equitable and competitive compensation to employees.”
At Monday night’s council meeting, a memorandum of agreement between the City and the unions was discussed in camera, and Mayor Cam Guthrie reported afterward that council gave direction to staff in the closed session. No details about the agreement are known, and none will likely be revealed until after city council and the unions’ memberships have all ratified the agreement.
Despite the unknowns, the end result of the negotiations this cycle hit a very different tone versus the last time the unions and the City sought a new deal. As covered by the Guelph Mercury Tribune in April 2016, all parties reached a deal 10 days after a no board report was filed with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. A no board report is filed when negotiations hit an impasse and the report starts a 17-day countdown until either the union strikes or the management locks out the workers.
The last time the City of Guelph saw internal labour strife was July 2014 when members of the Amalgamated Transit Union local 1189 were locked out for two weeks by City Hall.