About half of the City of Nelson’s 174 employees are getting a raise.
The city has signed a new collective agreement with its largest group of workers, the 85 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). They work in parks, public works, bylaws, finance, administration, water and wastewater in Nelson.
The new contract will run for four and a half years, and includes an annual wage increase of two per cent. The previous contract expired in January, 2016.
According to a CUPE news release, “non-wage provisions include improvements to the clothing allowance, a new training allowance for employees assigned to train other employees, and improvements to extended health. A letter of agreement also provides an understanding around capital works projects, assignment of work, breaks and voluntary scheduling.”
The agreement also applies to about five (depending on the season) employees at the Nelson and District Youth Centre, which unionized last year under the CUPE umbrella. Those employees oversee the indoor skate park and the city campground, and they provide outreach programs for youth.
The increases for youth centre employees are lower, with annual wage increases of one per cent in 2017, one per cent in 2018, 1.5 per cent in 2019, and a 35-cent per hour increase to all existing wage rates on June 30, 2020.
Mayor Deb Kozak told the Star the lower youth centre increases reflect the the nature of their jobs.
“The youth centre is a transitional employment opportunity for youth,” she said. “They can come and get some experience and move on. This is different (from the careers) that the rest of the city services provide.”
The city has collective agreements with three other unions. One of those unions, the firefighters, have remained without a contract since 2012.
Firefighters are by provincial legislation considered an essential service and so cannot go on strike or be locked out. In September the Star reported the two sides had reached an impasse and were proceeding to binding arbitration. Since then both sides have been unable to agree on an arbitrator.
The city’s collective agreement with its 11 unionized electrical workers expires in April. Their current contract provided for a 10 per cent increase over five years and four months.
The contract with the 17 officers and five other staff of the Nelson Police Association expires in 2019. In its current contract, members got a 17 per cent increase over seven years, beginning in 2013.