The president of the city’s largest union is not hopeful the city’s final contract offer Tuesday will be approved by his membership.
Gord Delbridge, president of CUPE Local 500, said during the last two months of negotiating, the city’s chief negotiator — who worked in senior positions at the RM of Wood Buffalo in Alberta before coming to the city last year — has asked for concessions and ignored union proposals.
"This has been a very difficult round of bargaining for us," Delbridge said Friday.
"Our collective agreement goes back to Unicity (in 1972). (The chief negotiator) wants to gut the language of our collective agreement in its entirety and replace it with Fort McMurray’s agreement. That won’t work here."
One of the city’s proposals is to reduce maternity leave, Delbridge said.
"Our members see business tax cuts and see millions go into True North Centre, and they want to pay for it on the backs of women through maternity leave," he said.
"That’s not acceptable... my hope is they come to their senses."
A bulletin on the union’s website, which was posted Thursday, told members its negotiating team is scheduled to meet with the city’s chief negotiator Tuesday.
The bulletin said the union’s goal is to reach "a fair and reasonable collective agreement," but until it does, it warned members "you may want to be attentive to any discretionary spending."
Felicia Wiltshire, the city’s director of communications, said they will not comment on anything union president said, or what is posted on the union’s website.
"We have committed to not negotiate through the media, and do not intend to discuss these details before having discussions at the negotiation table, or if an impasse should occur," she said.
"The city recognizes the important work performed by all of our staff in CUPE and remains committed to finding a fair and reasonable solution to these negotiations. We are looking to come to an agreement that is fair and reasonable to all parties, including Winnipeg taxpayers."
The negotiations have not gone smoothly. Earlier this year, both sides accused the other of bargaining in bad faith after their first meeting ended abruptly when union negotiators left the table after seven minutes.
The city filed an unfair labour practice that accuses the union of bargaining in bad faith because negotiators left the table so quickly. The union said it would file charges with the labour board against the city, saying the massive package of concessions the city wants amounts to bargaining in bad faith.
At the time, a source told the Free Press the city was seeking a 30 per cent wage rollback and wanted to scrap pension and benefits for seasonal and part-time workers.