Lockout a possibility, Kimberley Mayor says

A statement from Mayor Don McCormick on the upcoming vote.

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick

A statement from Mayor Don McCormick on the upcoming vote.

The City of Kimberley has issued a ‘Last Offer’ to our employees. After 10 days of negotiations, the Union declared an impasse; the City response was to apply for mediation. Mediation ended when the union dismissed the City’s last offer. Because the City feels that the offer is decent for both sides, it is presenting the offer directly to our employees through the ‘Last Offer’ process.

The City treats its employees well. City jobs are some of the best paying in Kimberley, averaging $59,691 per year for full-time unionized employees. Workers also receive a gold-plated benefits package worth another 35% of income – rarely seen in today’s job market. The Last Offer will see all employees receiving a wage increase, a benefits increase, and the ‘grandfathering’ of special vacation, meaning that all currently-eligible employees will continue to receive this benefit.

The City’s bargaining stance on the ‘special’ vacation and job evaluation system is critical to the future interest of our residential and business taxpayers. The City can no longer afford to offer special vacation to new employees. This benefit was bargained at a different point in time, and is simply unsustainable going forward. Bargaining benefits for future employees is putting the current employees at risk.

Regardless of the original intent of the job evaluation system, it is not working. It does not consider market comparisons with other municipalities.

“This means departments compete with each other for available increases. The result is above-market wages for one department, while other departments are under-valued; also, non-competitive wages for specific jobs are an issue with hiring and keeping qualified people in jobs that are needed to maintain our positive momentum.

The contract we are working with today hinders the City’s ability to manage its business efficiently. The Union keeps saying that the issues are not about money. The fact is everything is about money. Council has provided a consistent direction to management and staff – become more efficient. We need to capture savings through efficiency that can then be reinvested into our infrastructure without increasing the upward pressure on taxes. There has been progress towards this goal, through management reductions and implementing many ideas from our employees. Council resolve on this is strong.

The Union achieved a strike mandate on June 21st, and Council approved a lockout mandate on June 27th. A lockout is a possibility because the City needs to ensure services are provided to residents. We cannot operate indefinitely under threat of a strike.

A well-managed business means a secure future for all employees – union and non-union. The Last Offer presented to the workers is an improved contract that is worthy of acceptance and we expect it will receive careful consideration by our workforce.