PEI

Charlottetown firefighters break away from city union

Firefighters in the city of Charlottetown have broken away from CUPE local 501, which has represented them since 1953, to form their own union.

Firefighters had a number of issues with CUPE representation

Charlottetown firefighters now have their own union. (CBC)

Firefighters in the city of Charlottetown have broken away from CUPE local 501, which has represented them since 1953, to form their own union.

The Charlottetown Professional Firefighters Association (CPFA) applied to the P.E.I. Labour Relations Board to form its own union separate from CUPE in August of 2017. The move was opposed by CUPE. The City of Charlottetown took no position on the change.

The CPFA presented the board with a number of issues it had with CUPE in its application.

Long-time grievances

It noted at the time of application there were 14 outstanding grievances between firefighters and the city, and some had been on the books more than six years.

CUPE responded the problem was with the city, which had not responded to requests to name an arbitrator, but the found the number of outstanding grievances still indicated a labour relations problem.

The CPFA also complained about a failure to get shift schedules changed so that professional firefighters were not on shift alone. Lone firefighters cannot work at a fire scene. A firefighter on the scene alone has to remain in the fire truck until at least one other firefighter arrives.

This has led to incidents where a firefighter, despite being at the scene, was unable to enter a building with people inside it.

The board also heard there is practically no mobility between firefighters and other workers in the city, and very little contact.

The board certified the CPFA to represent Charlottetown's firefighters in an order signed last week.

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