A union proposal to give City of Winnipeg employees more snow-clearing work will get a second look, even though senior city bureaucrats have said the plan is not economical.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 500 believes the City of Winnipeg could save as much as $3 million a year and improve service by giving more snow-clearing work to city workers.
The city is currently locked into long-term contracts with private companies to handle 80 per cent of that work. The remaining 20 per cent is done by city staff.
In a report released in October, CUPE estimated the city would have to buy at least $28 million in new equipment and hire 150 new employees to make the cost savings work.
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But a report by city administration, released days later, said Winnipeg cannot afford all the new equipment and infrastructure required to support the union's plan.
On Tuesday, councillors on the infrastructure renewal and public works committee directed senior managers to take another look at CUPE's proposal and meet with the union again.
"We're always open to looking at cost-saving measures," said Coun. Janice Lukes, who chairs the public works committee.
"What will come of it? I'm not sure. Am I optimistic things will change? Not really, no. But I have an open mind."
'Let's work together,' says union head
CUPE 500 president Gord Delbridge told the committee there had been little or no dialogue between city administrators and his union on issues related to Winnipeg's snow-clearing operations.
"Let's sit down, let's work together. I think moving forward, we can do a lot more of that. I think there are a lot of ideas that our members have where we can work together with administration to save the city money," he said.
Delbridge added that his members have a unique perspective on how to improve the city's snow-clearing efforts.
"We are dealing with the workers on a day-to-day basis, that are there doing the work, that are there in those yards, that have a full understanding," he said.
Lukes said a major question that remains unanswered in the CUPE proposal is what the city should do with the new snow-clearing equipment when it's not snowing.
"If the city purchases all this equipment, what are we doing with it in the summertime? Are we going to all of a sudden be building roads and doing things right now that we hire contractors to do?" she said.
The city's snow-clearing budget for 2015 plowed into deficit numbers last month thanks to two major dumps of snow.