Village’s CUPE workers ink new wage package

Laser eye surgery now covered for Harrison's employees

After months of negotiations, the Village staff in Harrison Hot Springs have a new, three-year collective agreement.

The 14 workers are a part of CUPE Local 458. Their old agreement expired at the end of 2010, said local president Bryan Bickley.

“It isn’t that uncommon,” he said, for a deal to take almost a year to be finalized. All of the municipalities that fall under local 458 have been “actively bargaining” their terms, including Cultus Lake and Chilliwack. Harrison Hot Springs’ new collective agreement will expire December 31, 2013.

Included in the package are wage increases of 1.5 percent (2011), 1.75 per cent (2012) and two per cent (2013). Improvements include employees paying less for their benefit package, increased coverage for eyeglasses and hearing aids, coverage for laser eye surgery, and an increase in bereavement leave.

“These are not huge increases compared to previous years,” he said. “We recognize the fact that employers don’t have the funding they’ve had in previous years.”

The increase is consistent with other municipalities, including the addition of coverage for laser eye surgery.

“It’s becoming a really popular thing among employers,” he said.

He said it’s the union’s job to communicate the importance of the employees’ contributions to a company, to the board responsible for budgeting.

In the Village, it is the mayor and council who approve budget expenses, including staffing costs.

Bickley said the union is trying to be more active in all the communities it covers, by presenting the benefits of keeping work in the hands of employees, rather than outsourcing and hiring contractors.

“There is definitely plenty of benefits to having your services provided by public workers,” he said.

CUPE 458 represents 14 inside and outside workers in the Village at Harrison Hot Springs. Inside workers provide clerical services in the Village office. 458 members in the public works department are responsible for drinking water distribution, waste water processing, roads and building maintenance, grounds maintenance, custodial services and much more.

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