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Council should oversee city hall’s processes for dealing with internal labour complaints and doling out contract work, the union representing City of Winnipeg employees says.
This week, CUPE Local 500 took the unusual step of asking mayor and council to get involved in issues already the subject of union grievances.
Employees’ internal complaints about human rights issues, racism and bullying are languishing for months without being resolved, and city departments are outsourcing work in violation of union agreements, the union alleges. It says attempts to solve the issues through the labour-relations process haven’t worked.
"We are deeply concerned that the deterioration of labour relations at city hall will hurt our entire community," CUPE 500 president Gord Delbridge stated in the Sept. 9 letter to Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and city councillors.
Delbridge told the Free Press the letter was a "last-ditch effort," aiming to get council to review the processes that are in place for the handling of internal complaints and issuing of contracts — and consider policy changes.
Human rights-related complaints put forward by city employees have been waiting up to six months or a year to be resolved, he said Friday.
The union has been "frustrated by the lack of action that’s been taken. We think that maybe this needs to be put under review and maybe some policy put in place to ensure the respect and dignity (of employees) is being upheld, and there’s a fair process for such issues."
Speaking to reporters Friday afternoon, Bowman said he first learned about the union’s letter through news reports, then reviewed it.
"Some of the concerns that they raised need to be taken very seriously and properly investigated," the mayor said.
Bowman said the city’s chief administrative officer reached out to CUPE members. The mayor asked for an update to be given to council as soon as possible, "so that we can determine what, if any, steps are necessary at the political level."
The union announced in July it would seek to file grievances about those kinds of complaints.
Meanwhile, Delbridge said the union has long been concerned about the way certain kinds of work is being contracted out by city departments, including public works, without first being approved by council.
"It’s being done in an arbitrary manner; it’s not being done with any review to ensure that it’s in the best interest of the taxpayers, and you need to have some kind of oversight in place," he said.
Delbridge said he could not be more specific about the types of human rights complaints or about the contract work. He said the union has taken legal action over specific cases, and he declined to comment further.
The union represents about 4,600 city employees.
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