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City accused of shirking deal on police parking

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THE Winnipeg police union will park its anger before an arbitrator after it says the city reneged on an agreement to provide secure downtown parking for officers’ personal vehicles.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/04/2022 (238 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THE Winnipeg police union will park its anger before an arbitrator after it says the city reneged on an agreement to provide secure downtown parking for officers’ personal vehicles.

Moe Sabourin, president of the Winnipeg Police Association, said the union and the Winnipeg Police Service’s executive had come to an agreement in February to provide “a safe and secure downtown parking facility” for officers.

Sabourin said the battle for secure parking, to prevent targeted vandalism against officers’ private vehicles while they are working, has gone on since the city moved the police headquarters from the city hall precinct to the former Canada Post building on Graham Avenue a few years ago.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / FREE PRESS Moe Sabourin, president of the Winnipeg Police Association, said the union and the Winnipeg Police Service’s executive had come to an agreement in February to provide “a safe and secure downtown parking facility” for officers.

He said the next step is to take the agreement and the city before an arbitrator.

“It’s very frustrating,” Sabourin said. “But it’s not the first time they have reneged on a deal. They tried changing our pension in 2019.

“Senior management under Mayor Brian Bowman doesn’t understand what an agreement really is.”

In 2019, the city unilaterally tried to change officer pensions by removing overtime as a pensionable police earning, increasing employee pension contributions, and forcing officers to reach a minimum age of 55 before they’re entitled to full pensions.

The union took the matter to an arbitrator. Not only was the city ordered to reverse the pension changes, scuttling the city’s move to save $33 million by the end of 2023, but the city was also told to pay a penalty of $400 per employee, or about $600,000, as well as pay $40,000 in combined damages to the two police unions.

In terms of parking, Sabourin said not only did police Chief Danny Smyth announce an agreement had been made, during the Winnipeg Police Board meeting on March 4, but the Winnipeg Parking Authority had already started putting secure features into the location. In addition, officers who already had parking passes there were sent a memo advising them about the incoming enhanced security measures.

“We had a deal,” he said. “Our members have had broken windows and lug nuts removed. One member went home and their 16-year-old son drove it and the front wheel fell off. Thank goodness he wasn’t injured.

“We are confident when we go back to the arbitrator, we will be able to show a deal was in place and the arbitrator can make an order in our favour again.”

In a statement, city spokesman Kalen Qually said while the city can’t comment on labour matters “we can assure you that the public service works tirelessly to support our workforce and takes all grievances and labour matters seriously.

“We will continue to work with the (police association) and the arbitrator who was appointed to resolve the issues in dispute.”

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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