New West sets precedent that will cost everybody 0
After months of virtual silence, property taxpayers in Metro Vancouver found out this week how much more it will cost to run local city halls. That's because New Westminster and its unionized workforce announced they have just ratified a new four-year collective agreement, which includes a 7% pay increase.
If you recall, shortly after these same public sector employees negotiated job security and a wage increase of 18% in 2007, the world economy went into a tailspin. While millions of people lost their jobs and homes during these turbulent times, city hall employees were immune to a declining economy.
Given that history, one might have expected the New Westminster mayor and his regional colleagues to take a more conservative approach during the current round of negotiations. But that's clearly not what transpired.
Rather, we have one of the most labour-friendly city councils negotiating a 7% pay increase for its unionized workforce at a time when taxes and fees continue to take a bigger bite out of our wallet.
If you think you are immune because you don't live in the Royal City, think again. This new collective agreement becomes the base from which CUPE will negotiate with other Metro Vancouver cities. Hence, a 7% pay hike is now the minimum the union will accept in other municipalities.
In the past, most Metro Vancouver cities banded together and negotiated as a single body to avoid the "whipsaw effect." That's what happens when a number of neighbouring jurisdictions separately negotiate collective agreements with a single union at the same time.
But shortly after Vision Vancouver politicians declared they wanted nothing more to do with the Metro Vancouver Regional Labour Relations Bureau, the organization was neutered.
As a consequence, CUPE was provided with a huge tactical advantage at the bargaining table. Rather than negotiating with a single body, it could now play one municipality against another. In the end, it's local ratepayers who end up footing the bill.
While civic leaders in B.C. are planning on healthy wage hikes for their public servants, the situation couldn't be any more different in Ontario. Due to a declining financial situation in that province, even the pay for teachers will be cut by 1.5% over the next two years.
After compounding, civic employees will have received a massive pay hike of 26% over two collective agreements. If you thought runaway wages and pensions only happened in faraway places like Greece, you'd be sadly mistaken.