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The exterior of Saint John City Hall is pictured in this file photo. Image: staff photo

Still no contract for striking city workers after weekend negotiations

By Brad Perry Sep 25, 2023 | 2:03 PM

Around 140 city workers in Saint John are preparing to enter their third week on the picket lines.

Inside workers represented by CUPE Local 486 walked off the job and began strike action on Sept. 12.

Union and city bargaining teams resumed negotiations with the support of provincial mediators over the weekend, according to a Monday news release from the city.

“The talks took place for eight hours on Friday and four hours on Sunday,” said the news release.

However, talks ended on Sunday night without an agreement and no further discussions are currently scheduled, with the city claiming it presented “multiple offers” to the union.

Wages are the main sticking point in the ongoing dispute, which has caused some service delays over the past couple of weeks.

In July, the city offered the union a zero per cent wage increase in 2022, a 5.35 per cent increase in 2023, 2.1 per cent in 2024 and 2025, and 2.25 per cent in 2026.

In lieu of a wage increase in the first year, the city said it would pay a $5,000 signing bonus to each member of the union.

“We’ve maintained our position that our wages need to compound. We cannot take zeroes,”  Brittany Doyle, president of CUPE Local 486, told reporters last week.

Instead, CUPE wants a salary increase of 3.04 per cent, which is the wage escalation policy cap for 2022.

“That is the reason why that offer was rejected,” Michael Davidson, CUPE’s national servicing representative, said about the city offering a signing bonus instead.

“We realize that the $5,000 seems attractive to a lot of people that are just trying to get caught up on their bills, but to get caught up with the rising cost of living, we need it on wages.”