WINDSOR, Ont. – Locals 82 and 543 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing City of Windsor workers, have been told by the employer representatives that their group asked the Ministry of Labour to appoint a conciliator. Both bargaining units (inside and outside workers) have been without a collective agreement since December 31, 2008.
Jim Wood, president of local 82, was disappointed by the City’s attitude. “By asking for a conciliator, City Council and their negotiating team are now making it possible to lock out our members in the near future,” said Wood. “This strategy is a puzzling and unconventional way of negotiating, which leaves us guessing as to why the Corporation is acting this way after only four meetings.”
Wood was also concerned about how this attitude from the City representatives could affect the citizens of Windsor. “We will continue to negotiate in good faith with the Corporation of Windsor, and commit to the public that we will not jeopardize citizens during inclement weather to ensure public safety, especially on roadways. Our members will continue to provide, in an efficient and timely manner, the services people need and expect.”
Jean Fox, president of local 543, was also disappointed by the way discussions were evolving. “In May 2008, just under 400 City Managers and non-union professionals received salary hikes of up to 15 per cent. This was a move approved behind closed doors by City Council. How can this same Council instruct City negotiators to table no increases and demand concessions from union employees when only 7 short months ago they approved huge wage increases for high-ranking city staff?”
Fox believes union members are not being treated fairly nor are they appreciated for the jobs they do. Heilga Reidel, General Manager of Corporate Services, was quoted as saying. “We certainly appreciate Windsor is facing difficult times, but we still have a job to do. We have to recognize the potential retirements and ensure we are paying competitive wages.”
Fox agrees that Reidel’s comments should include union workers as well as non-union. “Local 543 members are talented, educated, hard working employees who deserve to be treated the same by City Council as non-union employees,” said Fox.
CUPE local 82 represents 288 full time and 97 part-time workers at the City of Windsor, ranging from road workers to garbage collection workers. Local 543 represents 1400 workers, ranging from clerical to child care workers and health care providers.
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James Wood, President, CUPE local 82: 519-252-2877
Jean Fox, President, CUPE local 543: 519-254-3543
Luc Tittley, CUPE communications: 416-910-2389