Unionized staff at the Nelson and District Community Complex have begun rotating job action.
Face-to-face talks today failed to resolve an impasse with 55 staff represented by CUPE Local 2262.
The union has been in a strike position for over a week but agreed to hold off until today, following the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s monthly board meeting.
Arena and front office staff will be off the job the rest of today, walking an information picket. Saturday the aquatic centre will be closed, and Sunday fitness technicians and custodians will walk out but the pool and arena will be open.
It’s unclear what Monday and beyond will look like.
“We are working with the union to ensure public safety and essential services are maintained during this interruption,” RDCK chief administrator Jim Gustafson told the Star.
“We’re going to talk more about what happens under job action to minimize the disruption and give adequate notice to the public of the changing situation. For the next 72 hours it will be a learning exercise.”
Money and contract length are the sticking points. All other conditions and language in the contract have been agreed to.
The RDCK previously offered wage increases of one per cent in each year of a two-year deal retroactive to 2011, similar to agreements negotiated with other employee groups in Nelson, Creston, and Castlegar.
They tabled a new offer today consisting of a three-year deal with one per cent wage increases in each year, but the union rejected it.
“The employer came back to the table and cosmetically offered an additional year at one per cent,” said CUPE local president Leford Lafayette.
“We allowed them an extra week or 10 days to meet with the board so they didn’t have to have to call a special meeting. Money they saved from not holding that meeting would have paid for a one per cent wage increase.”
The union is seeking a three-year deal with a cost-of-living hike over the term, averaging two per cent.
The union has indicated that it will avoid disrupting the arena’s hockey schedule, and will accommodate junior as well as minor games this weekend.
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 this month.
CUPE 2262 members include fitness technicians, lifeguards, aquafit and swimming instructors, as well as maintenance, custodians, customer service reps, and child minders.