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PETERBOROUGH, ON – Baffled by the city’s cavalier attitude toward the valued public services they deliver, Peterborough’s municipal and library workers met Tuesday night to agree to a plan that will protect services for the city’s residents and ensure fairness to the people who deliver them.

The workers provide a wide range of services in the City of Peterborough, from the administration of social assistance to custodial services and from winter road maintenance to library programs. As they negotiate for new contracts, they find themselves faced with proposals from the city that threaten the quality of the services they provide.

Workers, however, are determined to put up a united front against the city’s assault on services. The groups outlined the issues facing their members:

Library workers: A whopping 70 per cent of Peterborough’s library workers are part-time and the city now wants to slash the number of hours they work by as much as 50 per cent. The result will be devastating to library users, with fewer workers available to deliver the same number of services. The move targets an already vulnerable group of workers, who now may work only 3 to 15 hours a week.

“It’s ironic that our council is willing to spend $10 million to renovate the main branch library building, but will then jeopardize services by taking an axe to the hours of part-time staff,” said Adam Coones, President of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1833, which represents library workers.

“These workers are the face of the library for many library patrons. Their already precarious working conditions will only be made worse if these proposals go through.”

Inside workers: Many of Peterborough’s inside workers work in job classes that are primarily done by women, including social services, child care, and administration. In August 2015, an Ontario pay equity tribunal issued a decision to award these and other workers pay increases for jobs that were previously undervalued and underpaid. But the city is refusing to implement the award as the tribunal intended and further intends to discriminate against part-time women workers employed by the city.

“How can the City of Peterborough just ignore the ruling of the tribunal and refuse to adhere to the law in this province?” asked Lynda Bolton, President of CUPE 126, the local that represents inside workers. “We can’t go along with an employer that wants to make some meagre savings on the backs of its lowest paid workers. It is just wrong.”

Outside workers: Workers in Peterborough’s public works, arenas, forestry, and waste water treatment and collections are worried about the effects of unequal treatment of municipal employees on service provision. They have seen morale plummet since the city proposed a wage increase for them that is significantly lower than the one awarded to Peterborough’s bus drivers.

“For the past three years, we cooperated with the city when they asked us to do more with less. We compromised and had six temporary workers during the winter season even though we lost 12 trained permanent staff to another division of the city. But when an employer treats its employees unequally, it has a knock-on effect on services and morale,” said Jeff Pass, who represents the city’s outside workers as president of CUPE 504.

“We just want to get back to providing the high-quality services that we are proud to deliver to the residents of Peterborough.”

Municipal and library workers have vowed to work together to lobby elected representatives and raise awareness of their issues to Peterborough residents. They have also committed to working together in solidarity, supporting their colleagues in other sectors and departments and ensuring that their fellow citizens continue to enjoy the same high levels of service that they have to date.

Notes to editors:

  • CUPE 126 represents 200 full-time and part-time employees (80 per cent full time) in Peterborough’s inside unit in departments such as social services, finance, child care, Peterborough Sports and Wellness Centre, Art Gallery, tax office, etc.
  • CUPE 504 represents 135 full-time and 42 seasonal temporary workers working in the outside unit in public works, arenas, forestry, waste water treatment, waste water collections, etc.
  • CUPE 1833 represents 50 full-time and part-time employees (70 per cent part time) who all work at the main library branch as well as at the satellite branch in classifications of librarian, page, clerk, library technician, custodial, etc.

For more information, please contact:

Lynda Bolton, President
CUPE 126 (inside workers)

Adam Coones
President, CUPE 1833 (library workers)

Jeff Pass
President, CUPE 504 (outside workers)

Alison Davidson
CUPE National Representative

Mary Unan
CUPE Communications