After months of public battles, the provincial government has reached a tentative agreement with CUPE, although the union is calling it only a framework until its negotiating committees approve it.
CUPE represents about 4,000 public sector employees. If approved, the agreement will run until March 31, 2020. It includes the following provisions:
- No wage increases.
- Elimination of severance, which is an earned benefit that has been a financial liability for decades. Through its elimination, employees with at least one year of service will be paid one week to a maximum of 20 weeks.
- Changes to group insurance for new employees. While current employees qualify for retirement benefits such as group health and life insurance after 10 years of service with a 50/50 employee/employer contribution, new hires will have to reach 15 years of service to qualify. Premiums at retirement will be calculated using a sliding scale based on years of service. The sliding scale starts at 85/15 employee/employer.
Details about severance payouts for CUPE members will be announced in the coming weeks. Negotiations are ongoing with other public sector unions in the province.