The 55 unionized staff at the Nelson and District Community Complex have voted to strike.

The 55 unionized staff at the Nelson and District Community Complex have voted to strike.

Nelson complex workers back at negotiating table

Unionized staff have agreed to put any potential job action on hold while the two sides meet in an attempt to solve the standoff.

Unionized staff at the Nelson and District Community Complex have agreed to put any potential job action on hold until next Friday while the two sides meet in an attempt to solve the standoff.

Members of CUPE sub-local 2262 — which represents 55 employees at the arena, swimming pool, and fitness facility — held the strike vote Saturday afternoon and voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of job action.

On Wednesday morning, both sides announced that they were back at the table.

“We will continue to meet with union representatives over the next nine days to discuss safety and operational protocols for the Nelson and District Community Complex should job action or a strike go ahead,” said Jim Gustafson, chief administrative officer for the Regional District of Central Kootenay.

The regional district negotiates three collective agreements with CUPE that cover employees in all regional waste facilities and many employees at recreation complexes in Creston, Castlegar, and Nelson.

Since the last collective agreement expired a year and a half ago, the sides have met several times, but been unable to reach a settlement. They’ve been bargaining since February and met with mediator Mark Atkinson for two days last week. Atkinson booked out Monday.

The union is seeking a three-year contract with a cost of living hike over the term.

Gustafson said following the economic downturn a few years ago, staff at head office and at the Creston complex accepted wage increases of two per cent over two years. A similar agreement was reached for Castlegar through 2011, but 2012 has not been settled.

“Those other parties reached agreement with the one-and-one, but now that we’re dealing with Nelson, things have perhaps changed a bit, so their folks feel the one-and-one falls short of expectations,” Gustafson said. “Our position has been that’s the mandate that we have.”

CUPE 2262 members include fitness technicians, lifeguards, aquafit and swimming instructors, as well as maintenance, custodians, customer service reps, and child minders.

The RDCK will provide public updates about labour negotiations over the coming days. It is business as usual at the Nelson and District Community Complex along with all other waste and recreation facilities in the regional district.