Hourly Wage Rates for City Employees

City of Nanaimo CUPE employees are in the final year of their labour contract,which expires December 31,2010. Negotiations between the City and the Union for a new agreement will obviously commence prior to the expiry date. Over the past 4 years, and indeed for a number of years prior to that, the  employees have been well served by their union.Wages and benefits for the public sector now exceed those available to workers in the private sector by a considerable margin.That might sound well and good unless you are employed in the private sector and have to pay for these generous wages and benefits which  are not likely available to you and your family.

Here are several quotes from an article “Anger grows over B.C.’s great salary divide” written by Jon Ferry and published in the The Province newspaper on April 26,2010.

“…in recent years,there has  clearly developed a huge-and unhealthy-divide between those on the public payroll and those who are not.In fact, B.C. appears increasingly being divided into a province of “haves” with high wages and big, fat pensions and “have-nots”…without either.”

“Increasingly, the” haves” are to be found in the public sector and the “have-nots” in private industry,the struggling engine of our sputtering economy.”

Now it’s pretty difficult to blame the Union and their members for this, as it was weak and compliant  City Councils who agreed to  the earlier union contracts that have led to the situation of the day.City staff who negotiated on behalf of the taxpayers were clearly out negotiated by their union counterparts and you can’t blame the Union for that.

However there is another detail in the process that should be addressed and corrected,and that is the perception of conflict of interest.

Negotiation on behalf of the City are conducted by senior staff. Once a contract is agreed upon with the Union,then non-union staff,which includes the negotiators routinely receive the same increases in wages and benefits.This is a conflict which could,and should, be resolved by the City engaging the services of an independent negotiator.A member of Council should be assigned to sit in on the discussions.

Anyone wanting to know the rates of pay for unionized employees working for the City of Nanaimo can open the attached link: Wage scale for Nanaimo municipal employees. Note that there are clerical positions classified as ‘Level 6’ that are earning an hourly rate of $26.35,which is about $48,000 per year for a 35 hour week.It is also important to note that the hourly wage rates do not include benefits,which will increase that total remuneration figure by 35 to 40%,give or take a few dollars. The $48,000 then rises to $65,000.

Now I have nothing against clerical employees, but are they really worth that level of pay?Certainly not in the private sector by a long shot. When is enough actually enough? What I really hope we don’t hear from CUPE , should negotiations for a new contract become difficult , that ” the employer is trying to balance their budget on the backs of the workers”. That would be unfortunate.

Wayne Schulstad

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