Public sector union members still voting on deals proposed
Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) working for the provincial government will be voting on a new four-year collective agreement in the coming weeks.
A tentative deal was announced Monday and stands akin to what was put to the Newfoundland Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) on Sept. 17 — both with a five per cent wage increase over the four years and a signing bonus of $1,400 pro-rated, applied to the second year.
Like the agreement being voted on over the next few weeks by NAPE members, the CUPE deal breaks down with a wage freeze for the first two years, then a two per cent increase on wages followed by a three per cent increase.
CUPE president Wayne Lucas would not comment on how, if at all, an agreement with NAPE — the province’s largest public sector union — affected his union’s negotiations.
He did say CUPE’s tentative deal would be laid out in detail for members over the coming weeks, for questions and then vote.
“Specific details will be presented to CUPE members at ratification meetings. I can say our negotiating committees will be recommending acceptance of the deal,” said Brian Farewell, chief negotiator for CUPE, in a statement issued by the union.
A news conference with Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy followed the announcement of the tentative deal with NAPE, but the same question and answer opportunity did not come with the announcement of the deal with CUPE negotiators.
“We are pleased to announce a tentative agreement with CUPE, which includes benefits for hard-working public employees in a wide range of programs and services,” said Premier Kathy Dunderdale, in a government-issued statement.
“This is a fair deal for employees, who will see general economic increases in 2015 and 2016, and it is a good deal for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, as our government works toward a sustainable future in a fiscally responsible way.”
In the same statement, Kennedy thanked everyone involved in the bargaining process for the new deal.
“The terms of this tentative deal reflect the commitment of our government to operate sustainably, and allows us to acknowledge the dedicated professionals in the public service,” he said.
The NDP, meanwhile, opted not to comment on the tentative deal, given it is just being put to CUPE members.
“It is with the workers now for their consideration, and their eventual opinion is the one that is important,” an NDP spokeswoman stated in an email.
Calls to a spokeswoman for the provincial Liberals received no response as of press time.