Strike on the horizon for Prince Albert city workers as stalemate continues

Prince Albert city workers could go on strike as soon as Monday. File / Global News

City workers in Prince Albert, Sask., could take further strike action as soon as Monday as the city and union continue to butt heads over pay.

The union, CUPE 882, has said it wants to sit down at the bargaining table with the city, but the city has claimed that the offer on the table is the best possible one it can come up with.

“The city seems to have no interest in actually bargaining with us. In the last year and a half, we’ve only had eight days of face-to-face bargaining. Our membership has twice rejected the city’s offer,” Cara Stelmaschuk, vice-president for the union, said on a CUPE livestream on Aug. 30.

Click to play video: 'P.A. municipal strike action begins after negotiations reach stalemate'
P.A. municipal strike action begins after negotiations reach stalemate

She said it was time for the city to bargain a full deal.

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Union workers have taken some job action already, refusing to train management, other workers and contractors.

“If we have not reached a tentative agreement by Sept. 11 we will be exercising our right to strike.”

She said this will affect services at city hall, the EA Rawlinson Centre for the Arts, the Art Hauser Centre, the Frank J. Dunn Pool, the Alfred Jenkins Field House and the Art Centre.

Stelmaschuk said the union doesn’t want to go on strike and wants to reach a deal at the table.

The City of Prince Albert sent a release out Thursday afternoon saying there is currently no impact to services, but updates will come if things change.

Click to play video: 'Groups call for immediate implementation of police recommendations'
Groups call for immediate implementation of police recommendations

“The city continues to assess its operations and will provide ongoing updates on interruptions if CUPE decides to withdraw services on Sep. 11 as announced,” the release read.

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Kiley Bear, the director of corporate services for the city, said the city hopes the union doesn’t go on strike, saying their deal is still ready to sign.

“Unfortunately, the union is ramping up the rhetoric and doubling down on their position that this is a low-ball offer. The truth is it’s the best among Saskatchewan cities and one of the best in the country,” Bear said.

“We stand firmly behind this offer. Their counter proposal would require an additional 2.4 per cent mill rate increase next year alone. We cannot ask taxpayers to pay that when this offer already makes Prince Albert municipal employees among the best paid in Saskatchewan.”

Bear claimed that messaging from the union was misleading, and they wouldn’t be asking taxpayers to pay more.

“Rather than relying on the merits of their position, they are aggressively engaging in tactics that are misleading and inflammatory,” Bear added. “I understand this is designed to put pressure on the city, but it does not change the fact that this is a good offer and we will not ask the taxpayers of Prince Albert to pay more.”

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