After the last union agreement expired at the end of 2019, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) and Unifor Local 466 have reached a tentative agreement.
Representatives from the SCRD and Unifor were scheduled to meet in March 2020 to come to an agreement for the approximately 250 employees of the regional district, but COVID-19 delayed the process. The SCRD limited work to essential services.
Nearly a year later, the union negotiations took two days to complete, and took place over Zoom to accommodate pandemic protocols. Details of the agreement will be shared at union membership and SCRD meetings in the coming weeks, with an SCRD board meeting scheduled for March 11.
In the meantime, the SCRD senior manager of human resources, Gerry Parker, told Coast Reporter what some of the changes include.
“One of the things both parties wanted to improve was related to scheduling,” Parker said. “That included clarity on some processes, as well as some flexibility. We made some fairly significant changes there.”
The agreement included formalizing the memorandum of understanding – the interim agreement – when it comes to working remotely or telecommuting. Parker said there were also enhancements to wage rates, small adjustments to benefits and changes to other language to improve collaborative efforts.
In a Feb. 26 press release, spokespeople for both parties said they were pleased with the negotiations.
“I want to express my sincere thanks to all participants who were involved in these negotiations and especially to Unifor Local 466 for their collaboration through this entire process,” Parker said in the release. “Due to COVID-19, these negotiations took place virtually and we are appreciative of the willingness of the representatives to ensure this agreement could be moved forward at this time.”
The chief spokesperson for Unifor, Bryce Viitanen, said in the release, “I am very pleased to have reached an agreement with the SCRD that I can confidently recommend to our members. Working together, we were able to overcome some significant challenges, and I want to thank everyone at the ‘virtual’ table for their hard work to make this agreement possible.”
Approximately 250 SCRD employees will be covered by the new agreement, including people working in services such as bus drivers, recreation staff and office staff.