CUPE denies it hurt Whistler’s business 

Lawsuit before Supreme Court, workers still on limited strike action

CUPE is denying it maliciously tried to damage business to the resort in a June press release claiming Whistler’s water was unsafe.

That’s the union’s position in a statement of defence before the Supreme Court of British Columbia in response to a lawsuit launched by the municipality.

CUPE’s defence statement states: "The Defendants specifically deny that the alleged press release has caused any loss or damage to the Municipality of Whistler and the economy of the Whistler region, as alleged or at all."

The municipality launched the lawsuit in mid-June after a CUPE press release detailed a situation where a water meter failed, allowing gallons of untreated surface water in the Whistler water system. CUPE said this failure posed a health risk to the community.

The municipality emphatically denied CUPE’s allegation and demanded an apology. When none was forthcoming it took legal action.

Whistler claims that CUPE’s press release not only contained false information but it also hurt business in the resort.

The municipality’s statement of claim says: "The false information in the Press Release has deterred tourists from visiting the Whistler area, thereby causing loss and damage to the Municipality of Whistler and the economy of the Whistler region.

"The Defendants published the Press Release maliciously with the calculated intent to injure and cause loss and damage to the Municipality of Whistler."

Twenty-five members of Local 2010 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees have been without a collective agreement for more than two years. They have been on limited strike action since mid-February.

As bargaining floundered throughout the spring, the two sides appeared to be even farther from reaching a resolution.

CUPE workers are looking for a $4,000 cost of living allowance to offset the high cost of living in Whistler. They are also fighting against benefit rollbacks.

In the lawsuit the municipality is looking for damages for "injurious falsehood" and "wrongful interference with economic interests."

CUPE on the other hand is claiming that the Supreme Court is without jurisdiction to hear Whistler’s claims "because they arise out of a labour dispute and are not within the jurisdiction of this Court but are within the exclusive jurisdiction of an Arbitrator or the British Columbia Labour Relations Board."

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