Winnipeg's largest union retains job-security guarantee in proposed contract

Members of the City of Winnipeg's largest union will vote Thursday on a four-year contract that guarantees existing employees won't be laid off.

CUPE 500 members vote Thursday on contract that offers modest wage hikes but guarantees no layoffs

CUPE 500 president Gord Delbridge is recommending his members accept the city's contract offer. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Members of the City of Winnipeg's largest union will vote Thursday on a four-year contract that continues to guarantee existing employees won't be laid off.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500, which represents 5,070 city employees, reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement with the city earlier in June that would run 50 months — from Christmas 2016, when the last contract ran out, to the end of February 2021.

The deal preserves what the union calls "job security," which is a city commitment to avoid layoffs over the life of the deal, according to a copy of the settlement posted on the CUPE 500 website.

On the other hand, the deal offers wage hikes that are less generous than the pay increases coming to Winnipeg police and firefighters.

The contract calls for wage hikes of 1.5 per cent in late 2017, 2018 and 2019, but no hike at all during the final 16 months of the contract.

CUPE bargaining committee recommends deal

Union leaders are recommending CUPE workers accept the deal, arguing they could wind up with a less advantageous contract in the event of a strike.

"While we are not happy with the wage increase, it would not be a responsible move on our part to take you out on strike with no guarantee of an improved outcome," the union states in a highlights document posted on its website.

"Your Local 500 bargaining committee is unanimous in our recommendation that you accept the tentative offer from the city."

In contrast, Winnipeg Police Association members will receive a wage increase equivalent to 2.49 per cent this year. That hike will rise to 2.61 per cent in 2018 but then drop to 1.63 per cent in 2019, 1.61 per cent in 2020 and 1.59 per cent during the final year of the contract.

The United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg will receive a 1.8 per cent hike this year, followed by three annual hikes of two per cent.

CUPE 500 members will vote Thursday at the RBC Convention Centre. The result should be known early in the evening.