The City of Kamloops and CUPE Local 900, the union that represents city workers, are at odds over changes to bylaws officer and RCMP detachment jail guard positions, changes that are impacting nearly three-dozen staff and potentially causing a ripple effect among employees, with jobs possibly being bumped down the seniority ladder.
Kamloops community and protective services director Byron McCorkell said the city is speaking to employees this week and next week as it transitions toward a multi-purpose role — with the employees to be called community safety officers — over the next two years.
Community safety officers (CSOs) would be trained to a higher degree than bylaws officers, roles that are typically more entry-level. RCMP detachment jail guards would also be rolled into the CSO role. Community safety officers would deal with social issues, low-level crime, aid the RCMP and be familiar with people on the streets and in police cells.
Bylaws officer and jail guard roles are being phased out as a result and the employees — 25 full-time staff according to the city; 33 people overall, according to the union — are impacted. Staff will need to undergo training and take on new responsibilities as a CSO or take another job with the city, potentially bumping those with lower seniority.
McCorkell said the city is interviewing staff over the next couple of weeks.
“We’ve signalled an organizational change,” he said. “We believe we can do this more efficiently within our existing budget and we can provide a higher level of service, so it’s completely within the confines of the contract.”
Carmen Sullivan of CUPE Local 900 said in a statement that the city is undergoing a major restructuring and issues remain.
“There are still several significant contractual issues outstanding that have not been agreed to by the parties,” Sullivan wrote. “The union is wanting to remain optimistic that these issues can be resolved because the repercussions could be a number of lengthy and very costly arbitrations.”
Sullivan said she could not speak to the issues because the union is currently in the grievance process. She said the union is working with the employer to resolve the issues.
McCorkell said staff are concerned about where they will fit and with increased responsibilities. However, he expects retirements and wage increases for those who do train to become a CSO. McCorkell said the city’s contract with CUPE Local 900 has clauses that anticipate work changes, such as technological or when the organization is required to accommodate new workloads.
“All within the contract, all completely anticipated and, basically, it requires us to sit down with the union executives and go through the i’s and the t’s and create the new job description and the new wage rate,” McCorkell said. “That’s what we’re doing.”