While the City of Burlington proudly boasts itself as the best mid-sized city in Canada, as polled by ‘MoneySense’ magazine, Burlington municipal workers, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), who serve the city’s residents and businesses are asking why the city is not making the same efforts to make it the best place to work?
“Burlington municipal workers take great pride in knowing that the public services we provide helped contribute to our city being ranked the best mid-sized city in Canada,” said Brian Fallon, president of CUPE 44, representing 107 ‘outside’ municipal workers. “Unfortunately, our members’ working and earning conditions are certainly not the best in Canada. In fact, Burlington workers’ compensation fares quite poorly when even compared to our immediate neighbouring municipalities, like Oakville and Hamilton.”
“It is indeed ironic that our city continues to be named as the best place to live, but it is certainly not the best place to work, as experienced by our members,” said Kevin Ferguson, president of CUPE 2723 representing 125 transit workers, including drivers and mechanics. “Burlington’s transit workers are among the lowest paid in the province of Ontario. All we want is to be paid fairly and appropriately, especially when compared to our neighbours in Hamilton and Oakville.” From delivering public transit to maintaining roads, parks, arenas, recreation centres, pools and other important services, both the transit and ‘outside’ workers are responsible for delivering a wide variety of public services that helped put Burlington on ‘MoneySense’ magazine’s map as one of the best cities in Canada.
With the city dealing with low staff retention and recruitment issues and with current city workers facing low morale, Burlington, as an employer, has a lot of work to do to catch up to the ‘MoneySense’ honour as the best mid-sized city in Canada, according to Dean Mainville, CUPE national representative who works with all the Burlington workers represented by CUPE.
Some recent workplace examples that are contributing to low morale and workers’ unrest include the city’s refusal to pay benefits to workers over 65 years of age and the city’s continual delay in honouring an arbitrator’s decision on job evaluation/pay equity. “There is a general sense among the workers that the city does not respect them or the work that they do for the residents,” said Mainville. “The city now has an opportunity to start rebuilding trust and work towards rectifying this simmering problem by settling fair contracts with our members that will put Burlington closer to neighbouring municipalities.”
Both the transit and ‘outside’ units of Burlington are in contract negotiations, with the workers and the city resuming mediation talks on June 29 in advance of a legal lockout or strike deadline of July 2. “Our goal is to secure a fair deal for our members so our members can continue to provide services to residents,” concluded Mainville. “We hope management comes back to the table with the same attitude to avoid a service disruption that will affect Burlington residents and businesses.”
For more information, please contact:
CUPE National Representative