City of Vancouver and Vancouver Park Board Workforce Reductions

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

We are writing to provide you with the information we have in hand and in light of the recent email from the City Manager regarding further workforce reductions.

Since the onset of the public health emergency there have been a number of operations suspended or shut down in City/Parks. Vancouver Civic Theatres, Parking Operations, and Recreational Facilities appear to be the hardest hit so far. As we understand it some 800 auxiliary members and some 100 regularized members are currently on lay off/wage protection. Our sister local, Local 391 representing library workers, has seen 600 staff laid off.

Since the announcement came out from the City about a reduction of hours for managers and other exempt staff, and the recent announcement from the City Manager about additional layoffs coming, we have heard from many members who are asking the union to pursue the same sort of arrangement for union members as a way to prevent further layoffs.

To our knowledge this is not something the City is considering for unionized staff. While the Framework Agreement negotiated between the City and CUPE Locals 15, 1004, and 391 does allow for reduced hours (#28), that provision was intended for individuals who, due to personal circumstances, wished to seek those arrangements. As negotiated, it does not apply to entire workgroups or across the board for all City staff and would not be taken as a measure to use instead of layoffs, nor would it provide any protection from potential layoff. It seems highly unlikely that the employer would make such a proposal to reduce staff hours on a large scale as an alternative to layoffs such as they have done for managers and other exempt staff.

For the layoffs that have happened to date, reduction of hours would not have presented a viable alternative as those operations were completely suspended, so the work simply does not exist at this time.

We do not have any details about the next round of layoffs that the City has announced are coming, whether they would be by workgroup shut-downs or reduction of staffing across multiple departments, and those are decisions that the City can and likely will make unilaterally. They do not seek operational input from the union. Frankly, we were surprised by the magnitude and duration of forecast layoffs in the recent announcement by the City Manager.

We absolutely appreciate that this is an extraordinarily stressful time for our members. Please trust that your union has been in communication with the City non-stop since the onset of the public health emergency in an attempt to mitigate the impacts to our membership as best we can, and we will continue to engage with them and look for creative ways to do that.

In solidarity,

Joy Tullos, Staff Representative
Steve Salsman, Staff Representative
Warren Williams, President