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We are the 14, full-time, members of CUPE Local 1490 who work at the Township of Black River-Matheson as mechanics, equipment operators, labourers, senior and junior accountants, receptionists, and workers in the recreational department. We’re proud of the work we do and we know that the residents of Black River-Matheson depend on the services we deliver. But unfortunately, even after a strong strike vote and following conciliation, negotiations have broken down and now we are potentially headed towards a strike or lockdown this Sunday at midnight.

The Union and the Employer have long been far apart when it comes to wages.

But now, the Employer has offered something we truly consider unacceptable: a two-tier wage proposal.

Two-tier proposals are fundamentally divisive because employers are trying to get union members to agree to different scales of compensation. Collective agreements which include two tiers may mean that new hires receive lower wages, less job security, longer probationary periods, different pensions and benefits, or a combination of all four of these measures.

With two-tier provisions, some new hires may eventually achieve the same pay rates as more senior employees but it could take years. Sometimes the effects are permanent.

Two-tier bargaining is unfair to new hires and weakens the union because it undermines union solidarity.

And in this case, not only will new members be getting less; there’s a possibility that junior employees will as well, and even senior members when they post to job classifications of higher wages. This is unacceptable to us.

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