911 dispatchers begin mediated contract talks

A mediator has been appointed as 911 dispatchers responsible for taking calls from the Peace region try to reach a new contract with their employer, E-Comm Emergency Communications for British Columbia.

More than 500 emergency dispatchers, call takers and support staff are members of Cupe Local 873-02.

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A release from the union says the workers are the first point of contact for 911 callers in 25 regional districts, 40 fire departments and 33 police agencies, handling almost every 911 call placed in B.C. They have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2018, when CUPE says their last three-year agreement expired.

Mediator Trevor Sones has been appointed by the BC Labour Relations Board. CUPE says the first round of mediated talks begins Sept. 27 in Vancouver.

Peace River Regional District directors voted to outsource 911 dispatch from North District RCMP in Prince George in 2017. It moved the contract to E-Comm, which was the only company to respond to a request for proposals in 2016.

The district anticipated savings of $1.56 million over five years compared to North District RCMP service costs, which the district said had jumped by more than 50% over six years.

— The Canadian Press, with AHN files

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