Sooke council and union go it alone

Contract negotiations underway without help of mediator

 

Nobody wants a labour disruption but Sooke Mayor Wendal Milne is not capitulating to any monetary demands from the unionized employees at the municipal hall.

The employees union, CUPE 374, and the district are currently in negotiations and Milne has stated to the Labour Relations Board on March 14 that a mediator will not be needed in Sooke. Cupe 374 represents 22 employees working at the municipal hall.

He said the negotiations are about money and working conditions and they can’t come to an agreement on money.

“Council is not prepared to change their position, so there is no need to mediate. We are firm on our position,” said Milne on March 20.

He said the staff is not poorly paid and everyone still has their job. The district could not confirm what they are willing to offer the municipal employees as negotiations are still underway.

“They are a good bunch of employees, stated Milne. “We consider them valuable.”

The district employees bargain on their own behalf. The union employees have taken a strike vote but Milne said they haven’t said anything to them so far.

“The message is loud and clear,” said Milne. “We have to be fiscally responsible and we’ve done that.” He said someone has to take a stand on their own position.

Milne said that is the fiscal reality.

Going through the budgetary process has been a painful process but worthwhile said Milne. He is hoping for a 0 per cent increase in municipal taxes with the mill rate remaining the same as 2011. Some waterfront property values have increased and it is hoped that is enough to stay the course.