City of Prince Albert says no impact to services despite ongoing strike

CUPE 882 employees in the beginning stages of a strike work at City Hall and recreation facilities, like the Alfred Jenkins Field House. -- Herald file photo

The City of Prince Albert says its operations are not currently impacted from a union strike involving inside workers.

According to a news release, the city came up with backup plans to ensure operations could continue in the short-term. At a media conference last month, Mayor Greg Dionne said the city would bring in employees who are not included in the bargaining unit.

Aside from operations at City Hall, recreation facilities like the Kinsmen Water Park, Alfred Jenkins Field House, Arts Centre and arenas are not impacted. This also includes bylaw enforcement, building inspections and permit approvals.

Outside services such as garbage and recycling, which involves CUPE 160 employees, are also not impacted.

The city said it received notice from CUPE 882 that employees would be commencing a strike starting on Thursday, beginning with refusal to train management, contractors and coworkers.

“This is obviously disappointing. It is clear that no matter how much we give, they want more,” said Kiley Bear, director of corporate services.

The city offered CUPE 882 a general wage increase of 11 per cent over four years. The lowest paid employees would receive an additional .5 per cent.

CUPE 882 countered with a 12 per cent increase, which the city rejected.

At a media conference on Thursday, the union’s vice-president Cara Stelmaschuk said the strike may progress to a full removal of services if a new contract is not agreed upon.

“It’s harder for things to carry on if we aren’t in the office,” said Stelmaschuk.

“That was level one and a good starting point to really point out to the workplace, your people do all this work for you and the amount that they actually are dependent on. It really strikes that chord that you need us. We’re not replaceable.”

CUPE 882 members have been without a contract since December 2021.

 – with files from Nathan Reiter