City and CUPE remain at impasse ahead of possible strike


City of Prince Albert Inside workers are poised to strike on Thursday and according to Mayor Greg Dionne, there are no updates on the negotiations.

Dionne spoke to reporters about the issue following City Council’s meeting on Monday.

“We continue to ready ourselves the possibility of a strike and the ball is in their park,” Dionne said.

“We have no more money and we’ve made that quite clear and I still am in shock. When you get one of the highest offers in Canada, you say no.”

CUPE 882 represents City administration, information technology, bylaw enforcement, building inspections, recreation, and arts employees. On July 28, the union announced that its members were preparing for job action, including a full withdrawal of services, due to an impasse with the City of Prince Albert.

Dionne said that he has the support of the community on the impasse.

“You can’t go anywhere in the city without people coming up to me and say ‘stand our ground’ and to the point I’ve had more people say, ‘cut the offer than give them what they want,’” Dionne said. “The general public, when you talk to them, they haven’t got that kind of a raise, and the things that are going on with money and we don’t raise taxes any more than we have to, so we’re getting lots of support from the public.”

On July 28 CUPE 882 vice-president Cara Stelmaschuk said city workers have accepted offers that do not keep pace with the rate of inflation, while Prince Albert’s mayor and city council have seen their compensation increase by 20 per cent from 2016 and 2021. Stelmaschuk said that’s double what City inside workers received during the same time.

“The City of Prince Albert works because our members do,” Stelmaschuk said on Thursday. “Asking them to accept increases below what Mayor and Council have given themselves is just not on. The City of Prince Albert needs to shelve the excuses and make an offer that addresses the crushing cost-of-living.”

The City of Prince Albert has offered an 11 per cent general wage increase over five years. That means the lowest income employees would receive an additional .5 per cent. CUPE 882 countered with a 12 per cent general wage increase, which would give union members an extra $15 every two weeks, on average.

CUPE 882 members have been without a contract since December 2021. The union reported that 79 per cent of its members voted in favour of job action at a meeting on June 26.

The City expects to close Kinsmen Park if the union goes on strike, however some facilities, like local splash parks, would be unaffected.

–with files from Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald and Jason Kerr/Daily Herald