International Union of Operating Engineers business manager Saundra Taylor in Williams Lake has been working with city workers presently on a legal strike.

International Union of Operating Engineers business manager Saundra Taylor in Williams Lake has been working with city workers presently on a legal strike.

City workers could lose health and welfare benefits in protracted strike

Striking city employees in Williams Lake will have their health and welfare benefits covered until the end of this month.

Striking city employees in Williams Lake will have their health and welfare benefits covered until the end of this month.

The city’s manager of human resources Ashley Williston said Wednesday the city is billed by the benefit carrier at the end of each month.

“We haven’t paid for them yet and will pay for them at the end of the month. I spoke to the broker and we did have a choice not to continue with them, but we decided our employees should be carried to the end of the month so they can make arrangements.”

International Union of Operating Engineers business manager Saundra Taylor said the union told the city it is intimidating the workers by threatening to cut off benefits.

“Moments after we walked away from the table Monday our members were being told they were getting cut off.”

“We told the city they better rethink terminating benefits because while employees are working for essential services they should be covered. We’ve got an essential service order and a global order, not all of them are essential. They want mechanics on standby, they want water guys on standby in case there are emergencies, workers at the complex, and we agreed to all that.”

Williston said the city is still working on the logistics of essential worker benefits.

Union representative John Dube said on one hand the city says in the media that it wants to deal fairly with and values the employees for the work they do, but now it wants to cut people off their benefits.

“Employers in general don’t do that. You’re affecting people with families and kids,” he said.

Besides, Taylor added, it’s a costly nightmare for the employer to reinstate benefits later.

When asked if the union will pick up the cost, Dube said it’s not in the union’s constitution to cover benefit costs.

“The city is trying to shift the responsibility, rather than concentrating on trying to get a resolve here,” Dube said.

Williston said it is common with other public sector unions that they would cover the benefit costs and that the city is completely open to continuing with benefits if the union agrees to pay the costs.

“That’s the normal process with most unions,” she said.

Taylor agreed the Labour Code says the city can pull out of covering benefits, but in her experience she hasn’t seen it done in other communities.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man wearing a mask against coronavirus walks past an NHS advertisement about COVID-19 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
92 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths: Interior Health

The region is reporting 92 cases after the weekend

100 Mile Conservation Officer Joel Kline and YEP student Jill Matlock found themselves wrangling four horses on Highway 97 on Feb. 17. The horses were travelling at a steady trot up the highway after escaping their corral. (Jill Matlock photo - submitted).
Conservation officers wrangle horses on Highway 97

Jill Matlock never expected to be herding four horses in a truck.

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Williams Lake RCMP are investigating after suspects assaulted two employees at a convenience store and fled with cash and merchandise. (Black Press file photo)
Williams Lake RCMP investigating robbery at local convenience store

The robbery occurred Saturday evening, Feb. 27

?Esdilagh First Nation health department staff were thrilled to rollout out the community’s first COVID-19 vaccines Friday, Feb. 26. L-R: registered nurse Sam Riczu, elder worker Marie Conway, wellness coordinator Linda Siwalace, community health representative Sharon Palmantier and youth coordinator Dakotah Casey. (photo submitted)
?Esdilagh First Nation receives first COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccination clinic held Feb. 26 for high-risk elders

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

Vernon’s Noric House long-term care facility’s COVID-10 outbreak has been declared over by Interior Health. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
COVID outbreak at Vernon’s Noric House declared over

10 deaths were linked to the outbreak at long-term care facility

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Most Read