Vancouver gov't union strike: Garbage piles up

Garbage piles are showing up on some Vancouver streets as a strike by more than 5,000 civic workers continues into the weekend. The 1,800 outside workers, represented by CUPE Local 1004, first walked off the job on July 20, forcing city hall to suspend some municipal services, including residential garbage collection.

The city's 3,500 inside workers, who belong to CUPE Local 15, walked off the job Monday, affecting services such as city-run day-care facilities, building inspections and parking bylaw enforcement.

The 800 library workers, represented by CUPE Local 391, began a full-blown strike on Thursday, shutting down 22 branches of the Vancouver Public Library.

Striking library workers and outside civic workers will resume talks with city negotiators Monday morning, following a day of bargaining between the city and its inside workers on Friday.
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There is no word on any progress between the two sides because of a media blackout.

CUPE Local 1004 president Mike Jackson said a five-year contract reached by the City of Richmond and its civic workers set the stage for positive bargaining.

"I do feel optimistic. A new standard has been set, so we'll have to wait and see," he told CBC News on Friday evening.

Richmond's inside and outside workers on Wednesday and Thursday voted to accept a five-year agreement that includes a 17.5 per cent salary increase.

While the impact of the Vancouver civic strike has been relatively minor so far, all sides are saying they hope a deal will get done before more garbage piles up on Vancouver streets.

Vancouver's Downtown Eastside — the city's poorest neighbourhood where drug use is common — is looking a lot worse than even its usual down-at-the-heels appearance.

United We Can, a private crew that usually works in the inner city alongside municipal workers, is now left holding the bag.

"Normally we have the city to help us," said Richard Ivanauskus, the organization's spokesman.

"If there were a big pile of garbage, we'd sweep it out of the roadway or alley and the city would come along and pick it up. But that's just not happening now," he said.


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