Ten of the 11 CUPE locals voting on a tentative agreement agreed to accept it, the CUPE New Brunswick central bargaining team announced today.
CUPE local 1253, school bus drivers, custodians and other school workers voted to reject the proposal but agreed to stay at work while bargaining continues.
The accepted wage package is 2 per cent a year plus a 25 cent an hour increase for each year, with the increases front loaded at the beginning of each year. Casual workers, who used to receive reduced wages, will now receive 100% of their salary.
“We’ve pushed back against austerity, against the wage mandate, and showed that it could be done with collective action,” said CUPE President Steve Drost, “but this has done nothing – zero – to address recruitment and retention.”
CUPE NB President Steve Drost said that 15 years of austerity has hurt the members and the province. “This government and any government needs to be investing in public services because our families and and all New Brunswickers deserve good public services.”
Drost warned the government that “never again will workers accept wage increases less than the cost of living.”
CUPE 1253 president Iris Lloyd said her members rejected the proposed agreement because they were unsure about the language in the Memorandum of Understanding about pensions. Her local is one of the few CUPE locals in the province with a defined benefit plan included in its collective agreement. Premier Higgs is pushing to change the plans to “shared risk” which the union interprets as moving all the risk to the workers.
Drost confirmed that CUPE NB “stands behind 1253.”
The 10 locals that accepted the agreement are: Alcool NB Liquor (CUPE 953), General labour and trades (CUPE 1190), Institutional care and services (CUPE 1251), NB council of hospital unions (CUPE 1252), Rehabilitation and therapy (CUPE 1418), Provincial court stenographers (CUPE 1840), Worksafe NB (CUPE 1866), Education support staff (CUPE 2745), New Brunswick Community College (CUPE 5017) and Collège communautaire du N.-B (CCNB) (CUPE 5026).
Susan O’Donnell writes for the NB Media Co-op.
Access all of NB Media Co-op’s coverage of the CUPE strike here.
Read all about the the events leading up to the strike here.
*This story was updated on Nov. 20 with further information.