On May 8, the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 (USW) issued a 72-hour strike notice to the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD). After two months with no strike action taking place, USW members will be voting on a tentative agreement that if accepted will see a conclusive end to the looming threat of a strike.
USW, which represents 50 CVRD employees at Cowichan Lake Recreation, the Meade Creek facility and numerous water and sewage services, are seeking seniority language changes, additional benefits and statutory pay for casual employees, wage increases and monetary benefits for ticket-holding employees.
According to USW business agent Dusty Palmer, the new tentative agreement “settles some of the monetary issues” and makes use of more “straightforward language” than the previous agreement.
“We have a lot of casual employees, and we want to give them a chance for benefits,” Palmer said.
According to Palmer, many of these points have been an issue for up to a year and a half, though this past May marked the first time the union issued a strike notice during that time.
As for the tentative agreement, CVRD’s deputy CAO Jacob Ellis expressed confidence that it will be ratified at the USW vote today.
“Both sides are confident that the deal reached represents the best possible result that could be achieved without resorting to job action, and have agreed to unanimously recommend the deal be ratified,” Ellis said in an email.
“I expect [USW members] to accept the terms,” Palmer added. “Though the gains are modest, I feel that we’ll accept them at this time.”
The Gazette will be posting updates to our website (www.lakecowichangazette.com) and Facebook page as more information becomes available today.