Saturday, July 25, 2009

Workers employed by the city of Windsor Ontario have voted to accept an agreement, ending a 101 day long strike. While much was gained, especially as compared to the City's initial offer the union conceded on their demand that new workers hired be covered by a defined benefits retirement plan. The plan that will be accepted is "self-financed". While this provision obviously doesn't apply to the present city workers it is, unfortunately, a serious concession on a matter of principle. Here's what the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has to say about the settlement.
CUPE ratifies Windsor agreement:
Members of CUPE 82 and 543 voted Jul. 24 to ratify an agreement with the City of Windsor and end the 2nd longest strike in the city's history.

Jim Wood, President of CUPE 82, said: "Wrongly blaming workers for the recession, Mayor Francis and Council tried to cut real wages and benefits and impose a double standard with retirement benefits for themselves but not workers. That's what forced this strike."

Wood and CUPE 543 President Jean Fox both said: "We're proud of our CUPE members who stood up for fairness and equality and resisted unjustified concessions."

The new contract includes a $2,000 lump sum payment up front, wage adjustments of 1%, 1.5%, 1.8% and 2% over four years and improvements in job security.

If CUPE had given in to the Mayor last April, there would now be reduced real incomes, reduced benefits, worse job security, and the complete elimination of any program of Post Retirement Benefits for all future new hires at the city. Instead current city workers and their families are permanently protected with retiree benefits and at the same time, new hires will enjoy employer paid benefits to age 65 and then, after 65, a new Post Retirement Benefit program will be in place and administered by the city.

Jean Fox, president of CUPE local 543, was looking forward: "The strike is over and we need to rebuild the spirit of this community that was hurt by the Mayor and Council's attack on workers. We hope the return to work will be smooth but some wounds take time to heal."

CUPE local 82, representing outside workers, were on strike for 101 days, starting April 15th. Local 543, the inside workers, joined the picket line on April 18th.

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