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Inside city workers picket outside Saint John City Hall on Sept. 12, 2023. Image: Submitted/Brittany Doyle

Striking Saint John workers reject latest offer

By Brad Perry Oct 2, 2023 | 11:56 AM

Around 140 striking city workers in Saint John rejected the latest offer from the city, according to their union.

CUPE Local 486 says wages remain “significantly below” inflation and the city’s Wage Escalation Policy.

“The members of Local 486 have spoken loudly and clearly by rejecting the city’s proposal, emphasizing their need to secure a fair deal,” Brittany Doyle, union president, said in a news release on Monday.

Doyle said the union will issue a revised counterproposal to the city later in the day on Monday.

She said they hope council will vote on and accept the new offer when they meet Tuesday night.

“The bargaining team has moved from its demand on the cost of living, and we are willing to accept the wage escalation policy numbers,” said Doyle.

Wages have been the main sticking point in the ongoing contract dispute, which saw workers walk off the job on Sept. 12.

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 union member.

However, the union said it does not want a signing bonus and would rather have a 3.02 per cent increase for 2022, which was the city’s wage escalation cap for that year.

Doyle said last week that the two sides were “very close to reaching an agreement” and called on the city to come to the table and finalize a deal.

CUPE Local 486 represents clerical, administrative and support staff who work in several city departments, including police/fire/911 dispatch, customer service, bylaw enforcement, permitting, recreation, court services, financial services, administrative support, IT and technical roles.