The countdown is on. A 14-day cooling off period has begun after mediation between Civic Service Union 52 (CSU 52) and the City of Edmonton broke down earlier this month, paving the way for an official strike vote.
Union president Lanny Chudyk has called CSU 52 membership to emergency meetings (scheduled for Jan. 25, 28 and 30) to address the breakdown between the two parties and is set to apply to the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) for a strike vote, following the cooling off period which ends on January 30.
The City and CSU 52 have been in mediation since December and in the collective bargaining process for nearly two years.
What’s the Rift?
The dispute has focused primarily around the issue of wage increases for CSU 52 membership, who make up roughly 5,000 employees across the City’s operations, including at recreation centres, payroll, libraries and areas of the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), among others. So far, the City has remained steadfast on an offer of zero per cent, one and two per cent across three years. CSU 52, who have gone without a collective agreement since 2018 and who voluntarily took no increases in 2019 and 2020 due to COVID-19, say that offer is too little in the face of cost-of-living increases and comparable position wages in cities like Calgary and Vancouver.
Chudyk said CSU 52 leadership feels that the City’s bargaining hasn’t been in good faith.
“We do not feel the employer came to the table with any serious negotiating intent whatsoever,” he said. “We feel they came because, legislatively, they had to.”