No direct talks as both sides blame each other for lack of concessions
JARED FERRIE/METRO VANCOUVER
City and union representatives were in the same room yesterday claiming they were ready to restart negotiations to end a strike now in its seventh day. But both sides left without talking to each other.
The near meeting took place when CUPE Local 15 President Paul Faoro showed up at a press conference held by the city in a downtown Vancouver hotel.
City spokesman Jerry Dobrovolny told reporters the city was willing to return to the bargaining table if the unions would back down on some of their demands.
City workers last week rejected the offer of a 39-month contract that would have ended just after the 2010 Olympics. Union leaders suggested a four-year contract instead — an offer rejected by the city, because it would open up negotiations during an election campaign.
But a glimmer of hope emerged yesterday when Mayor Sam Sullivan sent out a press release saying he had previously asked the bargaining team to float the idea of a five-year contract.
Dobrovolny said he didn’t know whether a five-year contract had been offered to the unions.
Speaking to reporters at the back of the room after the press conference ended, Faoro disputed Sullivan’s claim.
“CUPE Local 15 has never, never been offered a five-year contract,” he said.
The union would “certainly” consider the deal, he said.
Faoro added that he was pleased to hear that the city seemed ready to resume negotiations, pointing out that city negotiators had refused to meet with them over the weekend.
Dobrovolny said negotiations ground to a halt because the unions refused to make concessions.
CUPE National President Paul Moist levelled the same accusation against the city. He was in Vancouver yesterday speaking to library workers who are also threatening to walk off the job today.