The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) have reached a “framework agreement” for a new contract.
No numbers or other details are being released at this point, as nothing is finalized, but both sides characterize it all as a significant step forward.
The news came from Finance Minister Tom Osborne Thursday afternoon, speaking to reporters outside of the House of Assembly. NAPE president Jerry Earle said the union was aware the minister was going to offer the update.
It is not a contract at this point, or even a tentative agreement. The next step will be for Earle and the rest of the NAPE leadership to take what is on paper and review it with the union bargaining teams, then decide if it becomes a tentative agreement and finally goes to the members for a vote.
The meeting is expected to happen in a couple of weeks, with the interim time required due to the logistics involved with getting the bargaining teams together.
The leadership — led by Earle and Osborne — had launched into lengthy meetings in order to hammer out several issues put to them by the negotiating teams.
“We certainly look forward to the bargaining team having a look at the details of what we’ve put together,” Osborne said to reporters.
Earle said the tone of negotiations and relationship between the union and government has improved since the change in ministers earlier this year. Osborne took over the Finance portfolio after MHA Cathy Bennett decided to step down from that post.
“It’s been several lengthy meetings and I have to get credit to the minister here,” Earle said, going on to say Osborne has shown commitment to the negotiations since becoming minister.
Earle described a meeting running into Friday evening, Nov. 10, leading to another meeting that Saturday at the request of the government. Earle said that weekend meeting at Confederation Building, starting after Remembrance Day ceremonies, wrapped up at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
As for the final cost to the public purse?
“Our members clearly understand the situation this province is in, but we had to work through a number of issues,” Earle said, noting a teleconference with the negotiating teams was held Wednesday evening.
Osborne said he can’t say if similar agreements might be reached with other unions. He said he would not pre-suppose what might happen in other cases, or begin to bargain in public.