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A view of "Progression" the public art at the front of City Hall

Details of City of Saint John offer to CUPE Local 486 released

The City’s wage proposal to CUPE Local 486 is fair, responsible and fully compliant with Council’s Wage Escalation Policy.

Implemented in 2020, the Wage Escalation Policy ensures the City’s wage and benefit budget is affordable. This means it does not exceed a rolling three-year tax base growth, does not cause a tax rate increase, and provides the City with the flexibility to deliver enhanced services through new hires.

“The City’s negotiating team issued a final offer to the inside workforce on July 26, 2023 that is both fair to the employees and responsible to taxpayers. We simply cannot ask taxpayers to foot the bill for pay increases beyond what is paid by many employers in the public sector, to other workgroups in the City and provincial employees. For context, CUPE Local 486 is asking for more than the New Brunswick teachers were just awarded, City of Saint John Fire, Saint John Police, the City’s outside workforce and City management,” says Mayor of Saint John Donna Reardon.

The City says that CUPE Local 486 has chosen to misinterpret the Wage Escalation Policy as a communication tactic for the strike, “We invited the Union executive to meet to review the policy to ensure a complete understanding of its intent and application; the invitation to meet was refused by CUPE.”  

The Policy places a cap on the City’s overall wage and benefit budget to ensure that pay increases:

  1. Are affordable to taxpayers AND
  2. Allow for flexibility to provide for necessary added costs, such as new permanent and casual positions, promotions, increased benefit costs and increases in overtime costs

The Wage Escalation Policy has established fairness among employee groups and responsible financial management of the City’s budget. From 2014-2019 the municipal wages and benefits budget increased by $8.9 million while tax revenue, which is the main source of City income, only increased by $5.9 million.

The below table includes the City’s offer made to CUPE Local 486 on July 26 along with wage settlements for all employee groups that were negotiated under the guidance of the Wage Escalation Policy. As the table shows, several employee groups received no increases, increases below and, in some cases, above the annual cap. The policy is used as one input into calculating wage increases and guides the City on what the cap should be for wages and benefits for the entire City budget.

Wage escalation policy


CUPE Local 486 has not since proposed a counteroffer.

For more information on labour relations as it relates to CUPE Local 486, click HERE.