Town of Lake Cowichan, USW avert strike with deal

The Town of Lake Cowichan and USW Local 1-1937 were set to vote Tuesday night on a tentative deal that would end the threat of a strike by municipal workers.

According to USW business agent Chris Cinkant, the two sides talked in Vancouver Monday as they prepared to meet with the Labour Relations Board and were able to resolve a stalemate that saw 72-hour strike notice served June 18.

The USW took a strike vote on May 30 with 88 per cent backing strike action.

"We had to go before the Labour Board regarding essential services. When the essential services process is invovled, you have to put another 72 hours notice in. We agreed that water and sewer would be essential; it’s pretty tough to disagree with that because it concerns the safety and health of the residents," Cinkant said on Tuesday morning.

Through the Labour Relations process, in the morning, the two sides started talking.

"The Town requested mediation and for the first half of the day, and right now we have worked out a tentative agreement. It’s good news but I haven’t even shared it with our members yet so I can’t give out any details."

USW members were set to meet Tuesday night to hear the news.

"From the negotiating committee’s side, we’re endorsing it. It still has to be ratified. And then it will also go to council and they will have to ratify it," he said.

Cinkant said it’s a four-year agreement "but, our contract ran out June 15, 2013 so it’s been over a year since we had a deal."

Mayor Ross Forrest and Chief Administrative Officer Joe Fernandez negotiated for the town.