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“We need someone who speaks for the City!”  

Quebec City – City blue-collar workers turned out en masse for a union meeting where 98 per cent voted in support of a strike mandate, to be exercised when deemed appropriate by the union executive. 952 workers took part in a secret ballot held on April 20.

The workers also voted for additional union dues, equivalent to one percent of their salary, to create a special fund that will supplement the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) strike fund.

With the overwhelming support of the members, the president of the blue-collar worker’s union (CUPE 1638), Marc-André Dufour, believes that “the mayor should take this unequivocal message from the blue collars seriously.” According to Dufour, “It is not normal for nothing to have been settled in more than a year. Our members have sent a clear message; the ball is now in the mayor’s court.”

“Documents uncovered recently show that the City is actually the one talking about cutting services. The mayor claims that he wants to protect the citizens. But services to citizens are not being targeted by the union,” reassured Dufour.” The citizens have much more to fear from the mayor than from the workers.”

Reacting to recent statements by Mayor Régis Labeaume, Dufour wonders who speaks on behalf of the City. If the parties want to negotiate, to reach an agreement, he cannot understand how the mayor can discredit his own spokesperson, his city manager in fact, by referring to him as an ordinary civil servant. But when lawyers for the City appear before the court, they contend that the mayor does not speak for the City.

If you want to negotiate, Dufour says the City needs to answer a simple question,” Who speaks for the City? If not the city manager, then who speaks for the City of Quebec? We would like to know.”

The union has not established a timetable for acting on this strike mandate. It should be noted that, for municipalities, the right to strike is governed by the Essential Services Act. The union must give a notice of seven working days before launching a strike.

There are approximately 1,350 Quebec City blue-collar workers. They have not exercised their right to strike in more than 25 years. They have been working without a contract since December 31, 2010. Negotiations between the workers and Quebec City have lasted over a year. Thirteen rounds of negotiations between the parties have been held since February 2011, including four with a mediator appointed by the Minister of Labour.

Talks between the parties broke off abruptly on Thursday, April 12 when the workers discovered an internal memo from the city manager predicting large-scale cuts.

For more information, please contact: 

Marc-André Dufour
President, CUPE 1638

Robert Bellerose
CUPE Communications
514 247-9266 (cell)