Union strikes deal with FortisBC

The ink has dried on the agreement between COPE 378 members and FortisBC Inc. Trail members served strike notice bank in October.

The ink has dried on the agreement between the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, local 378 (COPE 378) members in its negotiations with FortisBC Inc. (Electric).

In late October 75 per cent of COPE 378 members voted in favour of ratifying the tentative agreement reached with the employer on Oct.18.

It was officially ratified on Nov. 1.

The three-year agreement carries with it a 2.5 per cent wage increase in the first year, with two per cent increases in the two subsequent years. The deal runs until Dec. 31, 2013.

All wage increases are fully retroactive and include improved educational funding and an educational leave of absence, work leader premium, increased vehicle mileage and per diem rates.

“(We) are satisfied that we were able to stop the proposed gutting of retiree benefits at the same time as negotiating for improvements in wages and other working conditions,” read a statement from the union.

Strike notice was served by 81 Trail people at FortisBC in late October. Citing an attack on their benefits, COPE 378 announced its members at FortisBC Inc. (Electric) would act on a Labour Board interim order and go on strike.

Although the notice had been handed down, negotiations between the company and the union resumed and resulted  in an agreement.

The union members—which includes eight members in South Slocan, 48 in Kelowna, two in Penticton, and six in Oliver—voted 88 per cent in favour of a strike after the company’s last offer in late August was rejected.

The union has been without a contract since January, 2011. COPE 378’s members perform inside work at FortisBC Inc. (Electric) including office administration, IT, design, planning, project coordination and analysis.