The Town of Pelham's Tice Road operations centre. GOOGLE

First-ever collective agreement ratified by CUPE Local 1287 members

In a joint statement released last Wednesday, September 9, CUPE Local 1287 and the Town of Pelham said that they had negotiated and ratified their first-ever collective agreement. The negotiations took place between June and August.

Almost exactly a year ago, in September 2019, Public Works department staff voted 16-to-5 to unionize.

“Negotiating during a pandemic held its own unique challenges, but both parties were fair, flexible, and pragmatic in their approach which greatly facilitated the process,” read the statement.

Working drafts were shared back and forth and negotiations occurred both as written submissions and Zoom-based bargaining sessions.

CUPE Local 1287 now represents all non-management staff in the Public Works department, primarily based at the municipality’s Tice Road operations centre. CUPE members perform such tasks as beautification, cemetery maintenance, road repair, winter maintenance and plowing, water operations, parks maintenance, facility repair, construction administration, and development engineering and plans review.

Town CAO David Cribbs characterized the negotiations as being respectful, with both sides mindful of the good of the community.

“The agreement is of critical importance to both parties,” Cribbs told the Voice. “It offers certainty for each during what may well be turbulent times ahead.”

Cribbs added that on a personal note, he first started negotiating professionally a little over a decade ago.

“This is the first time being involved in an inaugural contract. It was obvious that both parties wanted a deal that would protect their interests, but also one that will allow us to work together, and I believe that has been accomplished.”

Amanda Wells, CUPE National Representative, on behalf of CUPE Local 1287 said that, “although COVID-19 has presented unique working and bargaining conditions for our essential workers’ dedication by all to ensure a fair and comprehensive first collective agreement was achieved.”

Mayor Marvin Junkin said he was pleased by the agreement.

“It was great to see that the Town and the union arrived at a settlement that was good for both sides, in a relatively short period of time,” said Junkin.

Among Niagara municipalities, only N-O-T-L remains non-union, with Wainfleet having voted to unionize before Pelham, yet still not having reached a bargaining agreement.

The deal “clarifies issues around seniority, overtime opportunities, job transfers, discipline, vacation, and other key aspects of the employment relationship,” according to the statement

Workers will receive a 2.0% increase for 2020 (retroactive to January 1), 1.5% for 2021, 1.75% for 2022 and 2.0% for 2023. The agreement will expire on December 31, 2023.