96 per cent of members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 626 working for the District of Coldstream voted in favour of taking strike action on Sept. 23, 2019. (Alpha Stock Images)

Coldstream municipal workers vote in favour of strike

96 per cent of CUPE members voted ‘yes’ to strike action

The pendulum has swung in favour of striking for 96 per cent of members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 626 working for the District of Coldstream.

“This is not an action we take lightly,” CUPE 626 president Bryce de Dood said. “We’ve been working to resolve this issue at the bargaining table but are facing demands we simply cannot accept.”

CUPE represents many frontline service staff, finance and accounting professionals, RCMP clerks, utility and equipment operators, parks workers, planning technicians, mechanics and other tradespeople.

The parties came to the bargaining table in May and progress was made until talks broke down in August after the District sought a wage settlement that was both lower than the provincial average and lower than surrounding communities.

“Just like many residents across the Okanagan, our members are struggling with affordability challenges due to rising housing and other living costs,” de Dood said. “The employer’s proposal would lock us into an agreement that lowers our wages relative to other municipalities and our members cannot afford to move backwards.”

The union has applied for a mediator from the BC Labour Relations Board in the hopes of resolving the dispute before taking action that would disrupt community services but dates for mediation have yet to be scheduled.

“We remain hopeful that a resolution can be found at the bargaining table given that we are simply seeking parity with wage increases granted to other municipal workers across the region,” de Dood said.

CUPE is Canada’s largest union and represents more than 680,000 workers across Canada and 97,000 in B.C.

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