Before he was elected Mayor of Winnipeg, Brian Bowman was a lawyer. With this in mind, it is surprising to see him trying now to rip-up the collective agreement with the Winnipeg Police Association (WPA) in an attempt to force unilateral changes to the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) Pension Plan. It is the clearest sign yet that his priorities are out-of-touch with the reality on the ground in Winnipeg.
“In June of 2017, Mayor Bowman voted for the collective agreement we had negotiated, calling it ‘the longest and most sustainable’ agreement in almost 20 years. Now he wants to turn around and rip-up that agreement. Surprising behaviour from someone who used to be a lawyer, to say the least,” said Winnipeg Police Association President, Maurice “Moe” Sabourin. “That shows bad faith. And to do this at a time when Winnipeg is seeing an alarming spike in violent crime and is on track to set a new annual record for homicides shows the Mayor doesn’t have a real handle on what is going on in the city.”
The benefits of the WPS Pension Plan are a negotiated element of the WPA collective agreement. To try and make this change unilaterally is to tear up that agreement. This is a high-handed attempt by the Mayor and the City Administration to simply grab something which they could not achieve through negotiation. The WPS Pension plan is in a strong financial position, bolstered by millions in contributions made every year by the members of the plan. There is no reason to rip-up the WPA collective agreement over the pension plan.
“We have always been prepared to negotiate with Mayor Bowman and the City of Winnipeg regarding any concern they have, including our pension plan. That is why we achieved a negotiated collective agreement in 2017. But we won’t stand by and be bullied. We will take action to protect the interests of our members,” said Sabourin. “Mayor Bowman leads a City which almost always posts a budget surplus, can always find money for pet projects, and which voted for our collective agreement – an agreement he hailed as sustainable. We call on the members of the Executive Policy Committee and of City Council as a whole to step in, address this overreach, and try and get back on track with the real priorities Winnipeg must address.”
Winnipeg Police Association