Strike continues as CUPE 882 votes against tentative deal with City of Prince Albert

Members of CUPE 882 rally outside of Prince Albert City Hall on Aug. 28, 2023. – Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald

The union representing inside workers at the City of Prince Albert has voted to reject a tentative agreement.

According to a news release, 81 per cent of CUPE 882 members voted to reject the city’s offer and continue on with the strike.

“We hope this will send a strong message to city council,” said Mira Lewis, CUPE national representative.

The tentative agreement includes an 11 per cent general wage increase, including adjustments to bring the lowest paid employees above minimum wage, vision coverage for all employees and expanded EFAP coverage to include non-permanent employees.

CUPE 882 members, who work at City Hall and recreation facilities, sat in on a city council meeting on Monday evening.

At the meeting, Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp was unsuccessful in having council set a bargaining date. She required unanimous support for leave to have her motion discussed on Monday rather than at the next meeting.

“We can’t wait one month to hear this and to hear council out on this particular issue,” she said.

Mayor Greg Dionne was one of four who voted against it, saying that the union needed to vote on the tentative agreement.

“I won’t be giving you leave strictly because they haven’t even voted on our last proposal,” argued Dionne.

“It’s not in our park. They have to vote, and then if they accept, they’re back to work. If they deny, then we’re back to negotiations.”

Lewis said the union wanted to let members “decide our path forward” since it didn’t see the city taking action. She’s hoping Dionne’s comment means they’ll get back to the table.

“We hope that administration takes this to heart and immediately returns to the bargaining table prepared to offer a meaningful deal,” she said.

CUPE 882 said it will be reaching out to the city and mediator Kristin Anderson to set bargaining dates.

The union has been taking job action since Aug. 10. A full withdrawal of services began on Sept. 11, impacting City Hall, the EA Rawlinson Centre, Frank Dunn Pool, Alfred Jenkins Field House and the Arts Centre.

The two parties reached the tentative agreement at the end of September. The union decided to stall the vote after learning that the city planned to continue with a call centre established at the beginning of the strike.

The vote was held on Tuesday.