Winnipeg reaches tentative deal with its largest union

The City of Winnipeg has reached a tentative deal with its largest union, likely averting a summer strike by more than 5,000 workers.

CUPE 500 leaders recommend workers accept deal, likely averting summer strike

CUPE 500 president Gord Delbridge, seen here following a strike vote on Wednesday, said a tentative deal has been reached with the city. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

The City of Winnipeg has reached a tentative deal with its largest union, likely averting a summer strike by more than 5,000 workers.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500 announced their negotiators reached a tentative settlement with their counterparts at the city on Tuesday evening.

"As a result of our discussions today, both parties have reached a tentative settlement," CUPE 500's negotiating team announced on the union's website Tuesday night.

"At this time, the local's negotiating committee will not be releasing any details of the settlement until our members have had an opportunity to review the offer and vote on it. The union's negotiating committee is recommending that the members accept the settlement."

The tentative deal was reached six days after 85 per cent of CUPE 500 members voted to reject a city contract offer and give their leaders a strike mandate.

The union and city negotiators resumed talks on Monday and went back to the table Tuesday afternoon.

'We came close' to strike: union president

CUPE 500 president Gord Delbridge said in an interview the strike vote created a sense of urgency after months of labour uncertainty.

"It creates a lot of unease in the workplace. People feel some sense of instability when they don't know what's taking place. I thought it had gone on for too long and it was important for our members to look at where we were at, and give me some directive on how they wanted me to proceed," Delbridge, adding a strike was imminent at one point.

"I can tell you, we came close. I did have a strike headquarters booked and we were ready. We were going to walk. It was literally within minutes."

Winnipeg has not experienced a strike by its general-workers' union since the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919.

The union did not state when it would hold a membership meeting, saying details of a contract-ratification vote will be made at a later date.

City council also has to approve the deal.

"We value the important work done by CUPE employees and are glad that we were able to come to a tentative agreement," Winnipeg communications director Felicia Wiltshire said in a statement.

Pending the ratification of this contract and a Winnipeg Police Association contract, the city still has several more unions who are without contracts.

The Manitoba Government and general Employees' Union Local 911, which represents 324 paramedics, have been without a contract since Feb. 18.

The Winnipeg Association of Public Service Officers, which represents 739 city professionals and middle managers, have been without a contract since October 2015.

About the Author

Bartley Kives

Reporter, CBC Manitoba

Before joining CBC Manitoba, Bartley Kives spent most of his career in journalism at the Winnipeg Free Press, covering politics, music, food, the environment and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba. His work has also appeared in publications such as the Guardian and Explore magazine.