Leadership with the City of Dryden say they’re satisfied with the city’s new deal with unionized municipal staff and that they were able to avoid any potential strikes.

Dryden has approved and signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 1730, which outlines a new two-year deal for municipal staff that includes wage increases, better benefits and allowances and more.

“It seems to me to be a fair agreement,” said Councillor Shayne MacKinnon. “I just wanted to thank the team, along with the bargaining team for IBEW 1730. Anytime you can avoid a strike and everyone shakes hands, you might not be happy but you might be satisfied. Thank you very much for a job well-done.”

The new two-year deal, in effect retroactively from January 1, 2022 and runs until December 31, 2023, also cleans up language with shift changes and short-term disability entitlement, and outlines a $1 wage increase in 2022 and a 2.75 per cent increase scheduled for 2023.

Overall, the new contract is expected to cost the city $158,291 in 2022 and $127,466 in 2023.

Dryden’s 2022 budget had previously allocated for 3 per cent wage increases. Chief Administrative Officer Roger Nesbitt says he estimates the increase is now closer to 3.5 per cent.

“I was quite frankly a little bit concerned at first,” said Councillor Norm Bush. “I understand the inflationary pressures our employees are under, but I also understand a lot of our citizens have relatively fixed incomes. Doing something significantly over our budget allocation would have been a real stressor. I think we came out with a deal that both sides can live with.”

Human Resources Manager Marcy Warren presented her report to councillors during a Special Committee of the Whole meeting on July 11, detailing the city’s negotiation process with the union.

Warrens explains that staff members’ contract expired on December 31, 2021, but a tentative agreement was reached with the union by April. But when that contract was presented to IBEW members in May, they rejected it and both sides went back to the drawing board.

IBEW then filed for conciliation and mediation through Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, with talks resuming with the city over June 28 and 29. The new deal was reached with the Ministry’s help, and it was later ratified by members in a majority vote.