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Bargaining "broken down" between Wood Buffalo Housing and union

Last Updated Jul 11, 2019 at 1:25 pm MDT

PHOTO. CUPE 1505 members picket outside the municipal building on May 14, 2019. Nathalia Cordeau-Hilliard/REPORTER.

EDIT: a previous version of this article stated 25 of 26 would be laid off. The correct number is 22 of 39.

It appears no movement has been made towards getting Wood Buffalo Housing (WBH) employees back to work.

WBH and CUPE 1505 met on July 5th and each were expected to offer proposals.

According to a statement from WBH, the union didn’t bring a proposal forward.

Meanwhile, the union said in its own statement that it “saw no value in providing the planned proposal” following an email exchange.

“The WBH board members have been too quiet,” said CUPE 1505 President Judy Collier. “They can take a stand and end this mistreatment of their employees. We’re not prepared to let them hide much longer.”

On June 24, the union proposed having those who wanted the severance package to take it, while filling gaps with seasonal and temporary staffing.

WBH said under that structure 39 per cent of properties would still need to be covered and that the savings didn’t add up to “even half of the savings” that the non-profit needs to eliminate its $1.5 million deficit.

The non-profit’s counter proposal involves keeping 22 positions and moving two positions to the “Rotary House collective”, a statement which Collier said is inaccurate. She said three members have been moved to that collective.

“If the goal of the CUPE bargaining committee is truly to get as many of our WBH employees back to work as possible, then we feel this proposal outlines an opportunity to do that.” said Henry Hunter, President and CEO of WBH.

WBH issued a lockout notice on May 10 after presenting a new model to the union.

The model would have 22 of 29 employees back to work, in addition to two, which WBH said have already returned to Rotary House.