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Edmonton city workers vote 91% in favour of strike action

Edmonton city workers have voted in favour of strike action after negotiations with city administration reached a stalemate.

In a news release issued late Tuesday, the Civic Service Union 52 said 91 per cent of eligible members voted in favour of a strike mandate.  Voter turnout was 83 per cent, the union said. 

Unionized staff at the Edmonton Public Library are also poised to strike after a separate vote last week. Last Friday, the union announced that its members at the library had voted in support a strike mandate, with 94 per cent voting in favour.

The union represents more than 6,000 members and represents technical, professional, administrative and clerical workers at the city, the Edmonton Public Library as well as Capital Power, Epcor, and the Telus World of Science.

Members at the city include 911 operators, DATs dispatchers, project managers, city accountants and clerks.

“It is clear that city council and administration are out of touch with their employee base,” union president Lanny Chudyk said in a statement. 

“Our members have sent a very clear message: they will not settle for an unfair agreement and watch as dollars are continuously misspent without considering those who actually perform the front line, core services on behalf of Edmontonians.” 

The union could strike or the vote could trigger a lock out. If either were to happen, one party must serve the other with 72 hours notice before any work stoppage. 

On Jan. 15, the union was informed that the City of Edmonton had ended mediation and triggered the mandatory two-week cooling off period.

At the end of a 14-day cooling-off period, the parties have the option of taking strike or lock out action, or bargaining can continue. 

Chudyk said members are hopeful the strike vote will pressure the city to return to the bargaining table and that a labour stoppage can be avoided.

The major sticking point in negotiations has been wages, he said. 

“While our members have overwhelmingly voted in favour of a strike mandate, we do not want to have to withdraw our services,” Chudyk said.  

“Our goal is still to reach a fair and equitable settlement at the negotiation table that supports our members and tax payers.” 

Union officials are holding a news conference at 11:30 a.m. MT Wednesday morning outside city hall.

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