Waterfront buildings in Barrie, ON
Barrie, ON - JK Liu / CC-BY-SA-4.0
Municipal workers represented by CUPE 2380 have voted for a strong strike mandate of 99.5% as negotiations continue with the City of Barrie.

The union represents close to 600 municipal workers who provide a range of public services including water and wastewater treatment, parks and recreation, financial and administrative services, and city planning.

“Our members take great pride in delivering high quality services for our fellow citizens in Barrie, and we are simply seeking a fair settlement that acknowledges the value of our work. We are seeking job security, appropriate staffing levels, and fair compensation to help us keep up with high inflation,” said Mike Murphy, president of CUPE 2380 and an active parks maintenance worker with 15 years of experience with the City of Barrie. 

Megan Varga, secretary-treasurer of CUPE 2380 and water operations worker, said that Barrie city workers had endured a particularly challenging time in the pandemic, with many staff suffering loss of income due to temporary layoffs and reduction in hours.

But the workforce had pulled together to continue undisrupted services to Barrie residents and were assured by management that their efforts would be duly appreciate, she said.

“We were promised a fair, comprehensive package recognizing the value of our services and the sacrifices we made through the pandemic. But now that the time has come for those promises and gratitude to come to fruition, city management has tabled concessions and proposals that keep us far below the rising cost of living,” Varga said.

Due to heavy workloads among other issues, the City of Barrie was already struggling with retention and recruitment, noted Murphy. He advised city management to listen to the voices of frontline staff and invest in their wellbeing to maintain quality of services.

“The workers have sent a clear message with the strike mandate vote – we are united behind the bargaining committee and want to negotiate a fair deal that improves working conditions and maintains quality of our municipal services,” he said. “We hope the City of Barrie’s bargaining team recognizes that the union’s proposals will be mutually beneficial.”