Woolwich’s unionized outside workers will receive raises of 1.5 per cent in each of the next three years under the terms of a new contract approved this week.
The pay hike will raise the average union wage this year to $24.35 an hour, from $23.99 in 2012.
There will also be increases to their standby pay, shift premium and footwear allowance.
With adjustments to the workers’ benefits package, however, the net impact on the budget is expected to be zero this year.
The agreement covers 20 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees local 1542. The same increase is automatically extended to all other staff members. Council members, having voted against a wage freeze for themselves, will also receive the 1.5 per cent increase.
Chief administrative officer David Brenneman said the same benefit adjustments will see pay increases to non-unionized workers net out to zero as well.
The wage provisions in the deal are similar to the contract reached between Wellesley Township and its unionized workers, and to the arbitrated settlement in North Dumfries Township, he noted.
He described the latest negotiations, which began December 7 and wrapped up January 22, as “very reasonable,” with the economic situation front and center.
“There was a clear understanding on both sides of the economic realities.”
An overall neutral impact on the budget was a key goal in the negotiations.
Brenneman said he expects the savings from a change in the benefits package to carry over into the second and third years of the contract, depending on premiums levied.
“The cost savings from the benefit adjustments offset the wage/monetary increases so there is no net increase to the 2013 budget,” he said. “With respect to the next two budget years, we do expect that the benefit adjustments will mitigate in whole or, worst case, a significant part of the impact of the wage/monetary increases, provided we continue to realize the savings from our carrier due to the implemented changes.”
The union, too, went into negotiations aware of the current economic climate, said CUPE representative Amanda Wells.
“I think both parties were mindful of that,” she said Wednesday, noting trade-offs in the benefit package aren’t uncommon.
“It’s a fair settlement. Absolutely, there were no concessions.”
Wells did not release information about the ratification vote, saying only a “decent percentage” voted in favour of the deal.