City of Edmonton offers wage increase with retroactive pay, hybrid work in 'best and final' deal to CSU 52 members

The City of Edmonton has put its “best and final” offer on the table to the union representing more than 6,000 city workers poised to strike if a deal is not reached.

In a Monday news release from the city, a final offer was reaffirmed to Civic Service Union 52 members which includes a 7.25 per cent wage increase over five years, a commitment to hybrid work and other unstated benefits. The city said the offer already presented a “considerable” financial challenge for the 2024-2026 operating budget while managing an approximate $50-million deficit.

“Any additional increase is not achievable without further operational and public impacts,” stated the news release.

“City administration has taken an approach to negotiations that recognizes both employees’ contributions and the economic realities of Edmontonians who fund services through taxes and user fees.”

At the beginning of February, members of the union — including clerical and IT staff, 911 dispatchers, front-facing recreation centre staff, and planners — joined their Edmonton Public Library counterparts with 91 per cent voting for a strike.

Workers haven’t seen a raise in six years and the city is asking workers to vote directly on the 7.25 per cent wage increase spread over five years, from 2021 to 2025. Both the city and the union are awaiting a decision from the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

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Union president Lanny Chudyk said the city’s “best and final” offer brings nothing new to the table after 18 months of bargaining. He questions why his workers have to suffer due to the city’s budgeting constraints.

“We have a council, to put it bluntly, that hasn’t budgeted for labour increases in their budgets for a number of years. It shouldn’t be my members’ fault that this council has decided to spend their money on capital expenditures rather than understanding that the cost of labour goes up,” Chudyk said.

While the majority of workers have voted in favour of a strike vote, Chudyk said once they have a decision from the labour board he is prepared to issue a strike notice if necessary, but added he is hesitant to do so due to disruptions to front line services to Edmontonians.

City spokesperson Charity Dyke in a statement to Postmedia said all employees regardless of part-time or full-time status will receive vacation allocation up to a maximum of six weeks depending on status and service. Additional benefits for CSU 52 members include health and dental, short-term and long-term disability and up to paid and unpaid leaves.

Michelle Plouffe, chief people officer, said in a news release the city has been working on reaching a “fair agreement” and has provided information online to keep the public informed.

“We value the work our employees do, and the city has ultimately provided our best possible offer,” Plouffe said. “More than 8,000 city employees, including members of other city unions, have already accepted the same wage increases in the first three years of the deal that the CSU 52 Union has rejected. Our offer includes an additional two years to the term, which means the collective agreement would expire at the end of 2025.”

According to the city, the average full-time, permanent and active employee in CSU 52 is paid more than $86,000 per year.

Chudyk acknowledged while they do have members who make a high salary, it is not an accurate representation of the 300 wage classifications. He said the union has asked for the city for a breakdown of how they arrived at the average, which they have not received.

“We have professional architects, but we also have staff at the bottom, fitness instructors and 911 operators who were significantly underpaid compared to other jurisdictions,” Chudyk said.

“We believe the city simply went and added up the different classification costings and then just did an average. We don’t believe they did a weighted average, for example taking all of the Clerk 1s, all of the Clerk 2s, all the planners, all the architects and adding the number of employees into each classification. I believe at that point, the average would look significantly different.”

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