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PETERBOROUGH Peterboroughs outside workers, members of CUPE 504, have voted 97% in favour of a strike beginning in the New Year that will see garbage, snowplowing, waste water treatment and arena operators trade in their uniforms and equipment for picket signs and fire barrels. The workers want to do away with the multiple and deep concessions wrapped up in the Citys final offer.

This offer is a slap in the face to our members who work so hard for Peterborough, says Phoebe Eccles, President of CUPE 504. They [the City] want us to accept concessions that would send us decades back and take away our working dignity.

Included in the Citys final offer are provisions that would effectively eliminate overtime pay, erase retiree benefits, reduce job security with temporary workers and take away bereavement days as well as rubber boots.

Whenever Peterborough is in crisis - during a flood, snow, or ice storm - we are the ones working 24 hours around the clock to get the city through it. We sacrifice our families, vacations and holidays to keep the streets safe, water clean, and arenas open, says Eccles. In return, the City wants to take away our overtime pay as well as our rubber boots! It doesnt get any lower than that.

Todays strike vote says that our members saw through the smoke and mirrors, says Eccles of the Citys final offer. On Friday, the City of Peterborough tried to persuade CUPE 504 members to vote for the offer by attaching a letter on their pay-cheques that only listed the offers highlights. None of the concessions included in the offer were mentioned. CUPE 504 has sought legal counsel and is considering a charge against the City for bargaining in bad faith for misrepresentation of the facts.

There are approximately 115 outside city workers that will be in a legal strike position as of January 9th, 2004 at 12:01am. Affected services include garbage pick-up, snowplowing, arenas, tree removal, Kingswood Community Centre and Environmental Protections wastewater treatment plant.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents over half a million workers.

For more information, please contact:

Phoebe Eccles
President, CUPE 504
c: (705)872-8529

Charlene Avon
CUPE National Representative

Diane Kalen
CUPE Communications