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Union itching to see mayor

CUPE anxious to clarify concerns over city pensions

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/12/2014 (1691 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Brian Bowman made rewriting the union pension plan a key plank of his election campaign, but one month into his job, the new mayor has yet to reach out to the city's largest union.

CUPE 500 president Mike Davidson said he's written to Bowman twice since he was elected but said Bowman has not responded and neither the mayor nor anyone from his office has contacted the union.

During the election campaign, Bowman described the employee pension plan and benefits as unsustainable. He repeated his concerns during a meeting with the Free Press editorial board last week.

"What I said during the election campaign was that I'm not convinced the current (pension plan) model is sustainable for taxpayers," Bowman said. "What I'd like to do is meet with stakeholders, including our unions, collaboratively to see how we can make sure the programs are sustainable."

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/12/2014 (1691 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Brian Bowman made rewriting the union pension plan a key plank of his election campaign, but one month into his job, the new mayor has yet to reach out to the city's largest union.

CUPE 500 president Mike Davidson said he's written to Bowman twice since he was elected but said Bowman has not responded and neither the mayor nor anyone from his office has contacted the union.

During the election campaign, Bowman described the employee pension plan and benefits as unsustainable. He repeated his concerns during a meeting with the Free Press editorial board last week.

"What I said during the election campaign was that I'm not convinced the current (pension plan) model is sustainable for taxpayers," Bowman said. "What I'd like to do is meet with stakeholders, including our unions, collaboratively to see how we can make sure the programs are sustainable."

'The pension plan shouldn't be his focus or top priority. The pension plan is managed extremely well'— Mike Davidson, behind candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis at left, on the mayor's concern about the city pension

Bowman repeated his campaign promise of negotiating a separate pension plan for new hires but said he hasn't found the time yet to meet with Davidson or other civic union leaders.

"I wouldn't rule anything out but what we need to do is sit down... with union leaders and have those discussions," Bowman said.

Mayor Brian Bowman has yet to respond to CUPE 500 president Mike Davidson.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Mayor Brian Bowman has yet to respond to CUPE 500 president Mike Davidson.

The CUPE 500 contract is one of two civic collective agreements coming up for renewal in which Bowman has any chance of influencing negotiations and perhaps setting a pattern for future bargaining.

Bowman has met several times with provincial cabinet minister Kevin Chief. He's talked to Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and traded correspondence with Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson. A large delegation from the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce was waiting outside Bowman's office last week. And Bowman went to the Grey Cup in Vancouver over the weekend. But Davidson hasn't yet made it on Bowman's list.

Davidson said he's not taking the slight personally.

"It's probably just (the fault) of whoever is doing his (appointment) book," Davidson said Monday. "I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. I'm hoping to get in to meet with him soon."

The CUPE 500 contract expires Dec. 27. The agreement with transit employees expires mid-January. Agreements were recently negotiated with police and firefighters. The city is in negotiations with paramedics, who have requested arbitration after talks hit a sticking point.

Davidson said CUPE 500 won't likely get into serious bargaining until later next month but he's not concerned about Bowman putting a target on the pension plan.

Davidson said he is looking forward to sitting down with Bowman and explaining why the pension plan shouldn't be a concern.

Mike Davidson, behind candidate Judy Wasylicia-Leis

Mike Davidson, behind candidate Judy Wasylicia-Leis

"I don't know what people are telling him. I don't know what his handlers are saying about the plan," Davidson said. "I don't think he had the correct information on it."

Davidson said several civic unions are part of the pension plan and Bowman would not be able to target CUPE 500 members for any changes.

Besides, Davidson said, the pension plan is healthy — it reported a 19 per cent return on investments last year.

"The pension plan shouldn't be his focus or top priority." Davidson said. "The pension plan is managed extremely well."

Davidson said Bowman campaigned on finding savings within city operations and he is looking forward to sitting down with him to show the new mayor where he thinks savings can be found.

Davidson said the city's snow-clearing program is one example. That program went $28 million over budget this year and Davidson believes savings can be found if more work is brought back to city workers.

CUPE 500 has wanted the city to reconsider the amount of snow clearing that's contracted out (80 per cent is handled by private contractors) by conducting a value-for-money comparison between public and private.

"It would probably be a good idea for me and him to meet, introduce ourselves and talk about some of these issues," Davidson said. "I just want to meet with him, and it's a meeting that has to happen sooner, rather than later."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

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History

Updated on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 7:33 AM CST: Replaces photo

11:29 AM: The paramedics have requested arbitration after talks hit a sticking point.

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