Kelowna and its unionized workers ratify new labour contract

The deal will give the workers a total wage increase of 8.5 per cent over the next five years.

Just in time for a new city council to take over, Kelowna and its unionized workers finally have a new multi-year labour deal.

After months of negotiations and concern the new labour contract would not be in place prior to the cvic election on Nov. 15,  the city and CUPE local 338  announced Monday night they have both ratified the five-year collective agreement.

The deal runs retroactively from Jan. 1 of this year to Dec. 31, 2018. It will see a general wage  increase for workers of  two per cent this year, 1.5 per cent  next year, 1.5 per cent in 2016, two per cent in 2017 and 1.5 per cent in 2018 for a total of 8.5 per cent over the five-years term.

“This historic five-year agreement provides fair compensation for employees while enhancing service and operational flexibility,” said Stu Leatherdale, the city’s director of human resource  and corporate performance.

“The annual increases are in line with collective agreements of similar length reached by other smaller Okanagan municipalities and will help to ensure the City of Kelowna can attract and retain the diverse and skilled work force we’ll need over the next five years.”

Leatherdale did not say why the deal is historic and could not be reached for an explanation prior to deadline.

The president of CUPE local 338, Lee Mossman, described the deal as balancing the needs of both the workers and the city.

“Our members’ vote of 95 per cent is a strong endorsement of an extended agreement that allows our members to continue take pride in delivering high quality municipal services that contribute to an excellent quality of life for our citizens,” he said.

The 650 CUPE workers represent approximately 75 per cent of the city’s workforce.  They are responsible for delivering a number of city services ranging from financial analysis to information technology to water quality and urban planning.