Cowichan Valley Regional District strike likely averted

A potential strike that threatened to shut down garbage transfer stations and Cowichan Lake Recreation and hamper curbside garbage and recycling collection is likely no longer in the cards the Cowichan Valley Regional District announced late last week.

About 50 CVRD employees that are part of the USW Local 1-1937 took a strike vote on May 8 after contract talks failed. The two sides were in negotiations with the Labour Relations Board to ensure essential services would continue, but instead came to a tentative agreement that will be voted on by union members in July.

Until then, details of the agreement are not being released, said CVRD Chief Administrative Officer Brian Carruthers. Contentious issues, said the union, had included no cost seniority language changes, benefits for casual workers, an equitable wage increase for the first year of the contract and premiums for certification tickets compulsory for job postings.

At the beginning of June Carruthers described the outstanding issues as related to wages and benefits.

"I think we’ve got a deal that both parties can support," said Carruthers on Monday of the tentative agreement.

The deal falls "within the parameters" of contracts the CVRD already has with other union employees, he said.

"I think it just took a little bit more negotiating and we were able to come up with a settlement agreement that both parties could live with," he said.

The USW’s Chris Cinkant said that meetings with union members about the agreement are planned for this week, with a ratification vote coming next week.

The settlement has to be ratified by both the CVRD board and the union.