Strike action looming at KSCU branches

Strike action could be looming at Kootenay Savings Credit Union branches, including the one in Trail.

Mediation solves little; KSCU unionized staff evaluating position but no strike notice

Strike action could be looming at Kootenay Savings Credit Union (KSCU) branches, including the one in Trail.

Little progress has been made and the two parties remain at odds over concessions tabled by the employer, reported USW (United Steelworkers) Local 9705 in Trail and Cranbrook’s Local 1-405, on Tuesday.

Months of failed negotiations led to a 94 per cent strike vote on June 7, giving the union 90 days to act.

Since then, a provincial mediator from the BC Labour Relations Board was brought to the table with union representatives from the East and West Kootenay branches and KSCU. No agreement was reached over two days of mediation.

The key sticking points revolve around pension protection and no wage increase for two years.

“The first day wasn’t very productive at all,” said Dean Lott, USW Staff Rep and lead negotiator, referring to the June 20 and June 21 bargaining sessions. “Day two saw a better approach by the employer and there was some cautious optimism that they would come off of their position.”

The second meeting went late into the evening and brought some hope, he added.

“But every framework the employer presented included concessions on the pension protection language in the agreement and zero’s in the first two years things came to a halt shortly after that.”

The union is currently evaluating the next steps which could include serving 72-hour strike notice, said Lott.

When contacted by the Trail Times on Wednesday, KSCU President and CEO Brent Tremblay said, “Kootenay Savings has no comments at this time and will not as long as the mediator is still involved.”

USW Local 9705 and Local 1-405 represent 110 employees at KSCU branches and offices in Trail, Fruitvale, Salmo, Castlegar, South Slocan, Kaslo and Kimberley.

“In the current low-interest rate environment they are not making the money they used to,” Lott said in a previous interview. “But that being said, our members are doing more and more with less.”

Cutting positions, not replacing people when they leave or retire, and distributing the duties to the remaining members has workers struggling to keep up, he emphasized.

“But they do, and by the looks of the balance sheet KSCU made $2.3 million in 2015 our members are doing a great job. And the strike vote is a strong message to our employer.”

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