The indoor city workers' strike in Prince Albert, Sask., may be near its end, as the union and city have reached a tentative agreement.
Members of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 882, which includes people who work in city hall, entertainment facilities and recreational facilities in various capacities, started "working to rule" in August, then more than 100 people walked off the job more than two weeks ago.
This week, the union and City of Prince Albert each issued news releases stating union members will vote on the latest package Friday. If ratified, a return-to-work date will be set.
Mayor Greg Dionne is glad that both parties appear to have made a deal, he said in the city's news release, issued Wednesday morning.
CUPE Local 882 members have worked without a contract since the end of 2021, when the previous collective bargaining agreement expired.
Collective bargaining between the union and the city progressed, with both sides agreed on all non-monetary items. But they disagreed on compensation, resulting in a months-long impasse that led to the union's first strike in its 70-year history.
The union, among other things, wanted a general wage increase of 12 per cent over four years, plus added benefits such as eye care for its members.
The city stood firm on its offer of a general wage increase of 11 per cent over four years, including 17 per cent for the union's lowest paid workers. That package was also offered — and accepted — by city employees out of scope of the union.
Earlier this month, the provincial Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety appointed its executive director of labour relations and mediation, Kristin Anderson, as a special mediator to help with negotiations.
The tentative deal includes the city's desired wage increases, which would bring its lowest-paid inside employees above the mandatory annual minimum-wage increase set out by the Saskatchewan government.
But if approved, permanent employees would get a cost-shared vision care through the city's Employee Family Assistance Program. Non-permanent employees could also choose to join the plan, the city's news release says.
It also includes a commitment to negotiate a process to provide supplemental salary — monetary compensation in addition to an employee's base pay — for workers that are hard to recruit, the release says.
Kiley Bear, the city's director of corporate services, praised the deal, but noted in the news release that it was available to the union before the strike.
It's now up to the members to vote on the deal, said CUPE national representative Mira Lewis in a news release issued Tuesday evening.
The agreement is retroactive and would last until Dec. 31, 2025, according to the city.