City Secures Labour Peace With Inside Workers

CUPE Local 543.1 members are strongly backing a four-year tentative agreement with the City of Windsor as 94.4% voted in favour of the deal.

Both the city and the union ratified the deal on Monday.

The key sticking point for the union was over so-called "bumping" language.

Local president Mark Vander Voort says the new agreement will add more protections for displaced employees to be eligible to bump into a higher classification.

"The employer did want to water down or limit the ability of members who are displaced to bump and we were certainly opposed to that, we believe seniority must mean something," says Vander Voort.

The contract includes a 1.25% annual increase in wages. There are also some improvements to benefits and shift hour adjustments.

Vander Voort says the union has done its best to improve the local's image after the lengthy 2009 strike and create a respectful relationship with the city.

"We had the issue with caretakers, I can't say I'm very pleased at all with how that turned out, but I mean, business is business and we have to go on and part of going on is to put that aside and negotiate a contract that's in the best interest of everyone."

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens says councillors unanimously backed the deal with its 1,400 inside workers.

"I was here in 2009, so I know what it's like to go through a 109 day strike," says Dilkens, adding the deal strikes a fine balance. "I think it was a very fair deal and a responsible deal both in terms of our obligations to taxpayers, but also the obligation to employees and I think it satisfies both sides."

Dilkens says the deal is an example of how effective this council has been at the bargaining table.

"If you can buy labour peace and do it in a responsible way, that's the best way to go. So far you've seen this council, whether it's police, whether it's Local 82, whether it's transit, whether it's 543 — there has been no labour disruption.," says Dilkens.

The deal covers a wide range of city employees from engineers and clerks to nurses and custodians.

"We just want to be respected and we want to be treated fairly and I believe this contract did that," says Vander Voort.

The contract is retroactively effective to January 1, 2017 and runs until December 31, 2020.