After more than a year of negotiations, a new three-year contract has been inked for the approximately 175 members of CUPE Local 358 who work for the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
The agreement, which was signed by the workers on Jan. 22 but still has to be ratified by the CVRD’s board, is the last of three collective agreements that have been signed since November between the union and its approximately 350 members who work for the City of Duncan, Municipality of North Cowichan and the CVRD.
CUPE national representative and lead negotiator Ian McLean said, like the other negotiations with Duncan and North Cowichan, a mediator from the Labour Relations Board was called in to help with the talks.
He said that while the union has good relations with the employers in the Cowichan Valley, these rounds of negotiations were particularly tough.
“We were apart philosophically on some issues, so mediator David Schaub wrote a report with recommendations to try to come to some form of agreement,” McLean said.
“We didn’t get all we wanted in the end, but we got enough that our members were satisfied.”
McLean said the government announced a reduction for Medical Services Plan premiums starting in 2018, which means employers now have significant cost savings and the union believed that money should continue to be dedicated to employees’ benefits.
“The change of government and the new government’s commitment to reducing MSP premiums has been a real challenge for us in determining who is responsible for paying for the MSP,” he said.
“We did successfully negotiate some improvements to our members’ benefits, so we’re happy enough.”