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Unions stand behind Saint John tax reform pamphlet

Click to play video 'Union behind misleading pamphlet on tax rates takes credit' Union behind misleading pamphlet on tax rates takes credit
WATCH: Unions representing the city’s police officers, transit employees and other workers don’t think they need to cite their sources of information. Travis Fortnum reports.

Still wondering where the anonymous pamphlet calling for tax reform that was dropped in Saint John mailboxes came from?

Wonder no more.

READ MORE: Mysterious pamphlet stirs up Saint John tax talk

The unions representing the city’s police officers, transit employees and other workers have confirmed themselves to be the source.

“It was CUPE, Saint John Police Association (SJPA) and Amalgamated Transit Union,” says Bob Davidson, spokesperson for the SJPA.

“That’s who paid for it.”

Union representatives held a press conference Tuesday, confirming themselves as the source of the document.
Union representatives held a press conference Tuesday, confirming themselves as the source of the document. Travis Fortnum / Global News

The unions say the pamphlet was dropped in every home and small business’ mailbox over the past few days.

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Many residents were left wondering where the information came from, as the pamphlet itself did not indicate it was put together by the unions.

When asked why they didn’t attach their name to the flyer, Davidson simply states that “nobody told us we had to put it on.”

The trio of unions held a press conference Tuesday morning, taking responsibility for the information.

“This is something we’ve been asking the mayor to educate the citizens with,” Davidson said.

“We couldn’t get the mayor and council to educate the citizens so we had to do it.”

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One of the industry examples given in the pamphlet, J.D. Irving’s Pulp & Paper division, disputes claims made in the text.

“Accurate information is important,” reads a statement issued by Mark Mosher, Vice President of Pulp & Paper, J.D. Irving LTD.

“The citizens of Saint John did not get it in the pamphlet CUPE distributed.”

A line in the pamphlet reads “It is not fair that residents pay 61% of all the taxes collected and heavy industry pays only 8%!” J.D. Irving, LTD. disputes those numbers.
A line in the pamphlet reads “It is not fair that residents pay 61% of all the taxes collected and heavy industry pays only 8%!” J.D. Irving, LTD. disputes those numbers. Travis Fortnum / Global News

Mosher points to a line in the pamphlet that states: “It is not fair that residents pay 61% of all the taxes collected and heavy industry pays only 8%!”

“The report that represented this incorrect information was later corrected by the authors of the report,” Mosher says.

The pamphlet’s distribution comes as the SJPA and the city remain at an impasse in contract negotiations.

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With city staff citing looming deficits – the police force has been tasked with making over $1-million in cuts – meaning wage increases to maintain parity with other regions seems impossible.

READ MORE: Saint John Police Force to make over $1M in cuts this year

The SJPA has expressed frustration with the city on numerous occasions through this recent bout of negotiations, leading some to believe this mail drop could be another negotiation tactic.

Mayor Don Darling encourages the conversation around tax reform but says the unions have misled residents in the past.

“The same group that has now claimed that they’ve put this document out also stood in council on January the 13th and told the citizens that the city does not have a deficit, and that is simply untrue.”

READ MORE: CUPE files formal complaint against Saint John councillor

Davidson insists the pamphlets have nothing to do with the current state of negotiations.

“We’ve been saying this,” he says, “since the Beer and Budget sessions in the fall.”

“We’ve said this over and over and over.”

The unions say this flyer will be the first in a series sent out to citizens.

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And while they haven’t said when the next will come, they say it will indicate who it’s from.