MacKenzie Art Gallery employees vote in favour of strike mandate

REGINA – MacKenzie Art Gallery employees have voted unanimously to support a strike if the two sides can’t come to an agreement.

On Thursday, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 5791 said the majority of its staff at the gallery have voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike mandate.

The CUPE Local 5791 members’ contract with the gallery ended on March 31, 2015 and negotiations are still moving forward. Approximately 19 permanent staff and approximately 15-20 casual employees at the gallery are affected by the vote.

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“We have not reached an impasse so we’re optimistic,” Anthony Kiendl, executive director and CEO of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, said.

“Because negotiations are ongoing, we don’t really have any comments regarding the details of the negotiations.”

The union said the art gallery has brought in an outside consultant and has proposed concessions to the collective agreement.

“They wanted to rewrite the agreement and reduce the rights that people have as employees of the MacKenzie,” Suzanne Posyniak, a CUPE national representative, said.

The union said the concessions include eliminating severance pay and issuing layoff notices to two employees, while suggesting that there may be more layoffs.

According to the union, there are also other proposals such as eliminating the ability for employees to manage their work schedule with flexible hours, reducing vacation entitlement for employees hired after April 1 and removing five full-time positions with supervisory duties from the bargaining unit.

“Ordinarily we have very friendly negotiations with the MacKenzie,” Posyniak said.

The next round of negotiations will be held in May.

“We’re still very hopeful that the parties can reach a collective agreement without job action,” said Posyniak.

“That’s certainly our goal.”

A previous version of this article stated that approximately 19 permanent staff and approximately 15-20 casual employees at the gallery have voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike mandate. CUPE Local 5791 has said not all staff were able to make it to the meeting, however a clear majority of staff were at the meeting. Those at the meeting voted 100 per cent in favour of the strike mandate.

With files from David Baxter

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