RMOW, CUPE talks at a deadlock 

Each side waiting for the other to make the first move

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Talks between the municipality and its CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) workers are at an impasse.

"We are waiting to hear from them," said Diana Waltmann, information officer with the municipality.

On the other side, president of CUPE Local 2010 which represents the Whistler workers said: "We'd like to get back to the bargaining table but we want them to drop their concessions," he said. "We're not going backwards."

Both sides have yet to come back to the negotiating table since the 29 bylaw, waste water treatment plant and utilities workers voted to take limited action in mid-February.

The union workers started job action after the municipality tabled a written offer at the last bargaining meeting. The offer did not meet CUPE's demands for a cost of living allowance, among other things. The CUPE workers are asking for $4,000 a year to offset the high cost of living in Whistler.

"We feel that the offer was very fair and equitable," said Waltmann.

CUPE’s contract with the RMOW expired in December 2002. Fifteen bargaining sessions were held between July 2004 and February this year. The union approved a strike vote on Jan. 10.

At Monday's council meeting Davidson was back before council for a second time during the public question and answer period. At the March 7 meeting Davidson was unable to finish asking his question before Mayor Hugh O'Reilly cut him off, referring him to the ongoing negotiations instead.

On Monday Davidson again asked mayor and council what it would take to get their staff back to the negotiating table.

"I don't know that we have an answer for you tonight," said Acting Mayor Ken Melamed.

Melamed explained that council has left the negotiating up to staff.

"At this time it lies with staff," he said.

Davidson then asked if the union representatives could have time to present to council just as the municipality's labour negotiator Richard Scott, who is also the labour negotiator for the GVRD, had time to present to them in a staff briefing session.

Melamed said they would consider it.

CUPE's limited job action means the workers are not doing any overtime hours and have handed in their cell phones and pagers. That means RMOW managers are picking up the slack.

Waltmann said the job action has not impacted any municipal services.

CUPE has not ruled out the possibility of escalating job action if there is no resolution.

Waltmann reiterated that the municipality has an offer on the table and is waiting to get called back to the bargaining table to receive the union's response to their offer.

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