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Statement in response to CUPE Local 486 Notice to Strike

As the employers, the City of Saint John and Saint John Board of Police Commissioners have been committed to reaching an agreement with CUPE Local 486 that reflects fairness and responsibility for both taxpayers and employees. We have a fair and reasonable offer on the table and are disappointed to receive notice of the Union’s intention to strike.

CUPE Local 486 is saying that it is the Employer’s refusal to offer the Local wages consistent with the City of Saint John’s wage escalation policy that is forcing them into the position of striking. The fact is that the City’s wage proposal to CUPE Local 486 is fair and reasonable and fully compliant with Council’s Wage Escalation Policy.

CUPE Local 486 has been compensated fairly over the years, in wages and benefits. In fact, for 2015-2021 Local CUPE 486 received wage packages during the City's fiscal crisis that exceedepackages of other City employee groups, including management, and exceeded the City’s tax base (affordability) and New Brunswick CPI (consumer price index).

Wage escalation was the primary driver of the fiscal crisis the City worked through in recent years, as wages are the largest City expenditure. Over $93 million of the City’s $177 million 2023 general operating budget is wages and benefits.

The Wage Escalation Policy is to ensure affordability, a responsibility the City has with taxpayer dollars.

The Wage Escalation Policy places a cap on the City’s wage and benefit budget. The reason for this is to ensure that all wage increases are affordable for taxpayers. That includes consideration being given to the addition of new positions (service enhancements) and increased benefit costs and overtime costs so that they are all affordable within the budget.

As a responsible municipality, we want to ensure that wage and benefit budgets are affordable and that they do not exceed tax base growth as we want to avoid tax rate increases for all taxpayers and any reductions in service levels.

While we remain optimistic that an agreement can be reached, we have contingency plans ready to minimize the disruption to public services should a labour disruption occur. The public may experience longer than usual wait times accessing the Police non-emergency services; however, citizens can be rest assured that there will be no interruption to emergency operations, including 911.