New Brunswick

Fredericton, outside workers to resume talks Oct. 31, CUPE says

The City of Fredericton is going back to the bargaining table after its snowplow operators and other outside workers voted in favour of a strike.

Wages remain a key issue as CUPE is seeking an increase of around 2.5% annually

The City of Fredericton is going back to the bargaining table after its snowplow operators and other outside workers voted in favour of a strike.

Talks are set to resume on Oct. 31, CUPE Local 508 president Kevin Smallwood told CBC News on Thursday afternoon.

Smallwood says he expects the negotiations will go well.

"We've always had a good relationship," he said. "When problems come up we're always able to reach a solution. I firmly believe that we'll be able to do this in this situation as well."

"I'm hoping that we reach a fair deal that works for everyone — the citizens of Fredericton, as well as the members of CUPE Local 508."

The workers had given the union a strike mandate on Wednesday night.

Eighty-five per cent of the local's members attended the meeting and 78 per cent of them voted in favour of a strike, CUPE officials had said.

"Based on the strong mandate we received from the membership, we are asking the city to return to the bargaining table," Ralph McBride, a national representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said at the time.

"We want to get back to the table," he said.

"Now that we've got this mandate, we think it's time for us to sit down face-to-face and try to hammer out a deal."

Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside, in a statement issued earlier Thursday, said the offer made by the city was fair.

"Like the union, we also want a deal that works for everyone," Woodside had said.

"I hope we can find ways to continue the dialogue."

The workers have been without a collective bargaining agreement since December 2013.

Outstanding issues include wages. McBride said the union is seeking an increase of around 2.5 per cent annually.

The outside workers are responsible for city services such as water and sewage, water treatment, pollution control, street maintenance and cleaning, mechanics, traffic and parks and trees.

The members have never staged a strike in the 60-year history of the local.