June 18, 2018 7:00 pm
Updated: June 18, 2018 7:02 pm

AUPE calls on Town of Ponoka to renew negotiations after members vote to authorize strike

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees flag outside the Alberta Legislature.

Supplied, AUPE.ca

Alberta’s largest union says its members that work for the Town of Ponoka want their employer to come back to the negotiating table days after they voted to authorize a strike.

“We’d rather come to an agreement at the table,” Karen Weiers, vice-president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, said in a news release on Tuesday. “Our members in Ponoka have been trying with their employer for more than a year.”

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The vote to approve potential job action was approved by members after town councillors did not approve an agreement the union reached with town administration last month. According to the AUPE, that deal was reached with the help of an independent third-party mediator.

“It was the town council that rejected the deal, putting us in our current situation,” Weiers said.

The union vote on job action has put Town of Ponoka members into a position where they could potentially serve 72 hours’ strike notice. It also gives them a 120-day window from the time of the vote to do so, the AUPE said.

The Ponoka Stampede, a major local event for the community, gets underway on June 26 this year, within the strike window. Weiers said “it is not our intention to disrupt the event, or indeed, any town services.”

“Our members live and work in this town and they care about the quality of life in Ponoka, just like everyone else,” she added.

Last week, the Town of Ponoka said a contingency plan was in place to ensure the town can continue to provide essential services to residents in the event of a strike.

Global News has reached out to the Town of Ponoka for further comment on the strike vote and the negotiations. A spokesperson said town council was scheduled to meet Tuesday night at which time councillors were expected to discuss the status of the negotiations.

The AUPE says it represents more than 60 members who work for the Town of Ponoka.

Ponoka is located about 100 kilometres south of Edmonton.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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