Workers at the St. Catharines Museum, members of CUPE 1287, have been on strike since April 26. Ten days past their legal strike deadline and still trying hard to reach a deal, it became clear to the local the employer had little interest in settling a contract.
The main issues in dispute include wages and respect. Most workers are currently making under $8.00 an hour. The staff describe a workplace climate that has become increasingly poisoned in recent months. The museum’s director, who represents the employer at the bargaining table, has been increasingly hostile, erecting many barriers to reaching an agreement.
“Management’s wage offers to us move in pennies,” says local president Steve Leavitt. “The final increase offered wouldn’t buy a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons at the end of the work day.”
The employees at the museum include support staff, gift shop workers, custodians, and curatorial staff. “These are the people who keep the place running on a daily basis,” says Leavitt. “They design and set up the exhibits, they programme events and tours, and they look after the many groups of school kids who come through. Their work is a vital part of the cultural life of St. Catharines, and they certainly deserve both a fair contract and their employer’s respect.”