Three CUPE locals representing Calgary municipal employees are facing a tough round of bargaining, with conservative city councillors and the local newspaper calling for wage freezes.

Calgary City Councillor Shane Keating took the unusual step of commenting to the media about bargaining. He said city workers had done well during the economic downturn and called for unions to accept wage freezes.

Councillor Jeremy Farkas went further calling for wage freezes for “several years” to prevent layoffs. Farkas is a former Research Fellow at the Manning Centre, a right-wing organization dedicated to training conservative activists and limiting the role of government.

The Calgary Herald editorial board piled on, saying it was “regrettable” that CUPE wasn’t willing to accept wage freezes.

CUPE 38 President D’Arcy Lanovaz said it wasn’t his practice to negotiate through the media, but he countered the right-wing offensive.

“These people are conveniently forgetting that hiring was frozen and workloads were increased during the downturn,” Lanovaz said. “In fact, for years, public employees have earned wages below many private sector employees. When our members are attacked, we respond, and we fight for a healthier community for all.”