A meditator has been appointed to work with City of Powell River and Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 798 in contract negotiations that have been ongoing since October 2009.
Grant McArthur, senior mediator with British Columbia Labour Relations Board, will work with the two parties, at the request of CUPE, to assist in replacing the former collective agreement that expired on December 31, 2009. Essential service designation is also ongoing.
A media blackout, agreed to by both parties, prevents any city representative or CUPE member from revealing any specifics on how close the two parties are to an agreement.
Stan Westby, chief administrative officer for the city, is the spokesperson for the employer’s bargaining team. While Westby could not reveal specifics of the bargaining he did say the two parties are not far apart.
“We feel that it’s been very productive bargaining for the past 20 months, that we’ve reached substantial agreement on most proposals,” said Westby. “We feel that we’re close and we look forward to resolving it during mediation.”
CUPE 798 president Graham Mahy said in a press release that he is confident the “two sides can reach a fair and equitable agreement” and that he is “looking forward to returning to the bargaining table.”
“We’ve had some very productive bargaining and I feel that we should be able to resolve much of this with mediation,” said Mayor Stewart Alsgard. “I think it will be dealt with properly.”
Talks will continue based on the availability of the mediator and the two negotiating parties. Alsgard anticipates a return to the table sometime in September.