Prince Albert Union Files Complaint Over Unfair Labour Practices Amid Contract Negotiations


In a bold manoeuvre, the union representing interior workers in Prince Albert has presented a complaint to the labour board. This retaliatory action was incited when a critical vote on a contract, intended to take place on Friday, was thwarted.

This complaint, an allegation of unfair labour practices, was officially filed by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 882. The union seeks an authoritative edict on the city’s alleged foul play during the negotiation process.

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The friction between the city and CUPE 882 had been brewing for almost three weeks, with disgruntled employees holding the picket line in protest. A crucial vote to endorse a tentative agreement was supposed to conclude the deadlock on Friday. The city’s unexpected announcement on the fateful day, however, shifted the dynamics of the standoff.

A representative for the workers explained that the city disclosed an unprecedented plan to reposition and reform several job roles, including reallocating clerks to a newly instituted call centre. These plans were unrolled as the strike was unfolding.

The city’s unilateral call for systemic changes in job profiles does not sit well with the union, who argue that alterations to job terms should rightfully be discussed through a joint job evaluation committee.

Following the rising discontent, Kiley Bear, Director of Corporate Services, put up a statement on the city’s website on Tuesday. Dismissing the claimed import of the shift, Bear argues that the call centre’s establishment won’t induce job losses, pay cuts or modification in operational hours or job descriptions.

Mira Lewis, a CUPE National representative, insists that the real flaw lies in the secrets cloaked underneath the restructured roles. She laments that CUPE 882 was left in the dark about the decision, with the city withholding vital information about the changes during negotiations.

However, Bear affirms that the city is willing to dispense more information on the restructuring. Given that the clerks’ employment terms remain unchanged in the new roles, Bear adds, there should be no impediment to a vote on the settlement.

CUPE claims that this restructuring would affect four clerk-steno employees and five secretary II employees.

Cara Stelmaschuk, CUPE local vice-president, expresses unease over the surprise restructuring announcement.

Stelmaschuk argues that such a move, which affects over 15 per cent of city hall staff, can potentially rattle the workforce amid the current testing times.

Beyond the matter of the unfair labour practice allegation, the union is pressing for more clarity on the proposed shifts. By Thursday noon, the union anticipates a comprehensive list of affected employees and a specific description of their modified roles.

Lewis maintains that the changes must be scrutinized by the bargaining table, iconizing the current crisis to a negotiation impasse. The union has urged for immediate information from the city and a return to negotiations to resolve new proposals. They hope that the special mediator, Kristin Anderson, could expedite an agreement between the warring parties.