Members of CUPE 1490 have voted in favour of an agreement with the town of Black River-Matheson, bringing an end to a bitter, months-long dispute that began in October with the lockout of 14 members and eventually led to a strike after members rejected a forced offer which included tiered wage provisions that would have resulted in lower wages for new hires.

“We said from the beginning that we were not willing to sell out the next generation and accept a deal that would result in some members receiving less than others,” said Serge Bouchard, president of CUPE 1490. “We stood our ground, stood up for our principles, and I am proud to say that thanks to the continued strength and solidarity of our members, we’ve been able to reach an agreement that includes fair wages for all workers.”

As a result of the agreement, members will see wage increases of 14% over four years.  The agreement was reached several weeks ago, but, was held up as the employer refused to negotiate return-to-work protocols that would protect CUPE 1490 members from facing repercussions as a result of the strike.  An agreement on protocols was reached this week shortly after the provincial government removed the town’s mayor and council for failing to meet and conduct business for over 60 days.

Throughout the course of the strike, the employer made continued attempts to intimidate CUPE 1490 members, including making threats of criminalization, spreading misinformation, and banning all CUPE members and CUPE employees from municipal buildings.

“The continued attempts over the past several months to divide us only strengthened our resolve to continue the strike and to fight for fair wages” said Bouchard. “The solidarity and support from CUPE locals and members across the province and the country, other unions and the labour movement - from sending messages of support and donations, to joining us on the picket line, not only kept us all going throughout the strike, but were vital in helping us reach a fair deal.”

Bouchard also thanked the many members of the community who offered their support over the past seven months.

“This is our home, and we remain dedicated to the community that we serve. We look forward to getting back to work for the people of Black River-Matheson, and to the upcoming municipal election where we can elect a new council that will give residents the representation they deserve.”