City of Cambridge, Ontario ‘outside’ workers, represented by CUPE, are urging management to return to the bargaining table next week with the full intention of reaching a collective agreement that will address a wage disparity issue that places Cambridge ‘outside’ municipal workers among the lowest paid in Ontario. The legal lockout or strike deadline is 12:01 a.m., February 2.

“Our research shows that Cambridge ‘outside’ workers are the third lowest paid in the province and we are also paid inferior wages compared to neighbouring municipalities for doing the same job,” said Ray Burigana, president of CUPE 32. “We also looked into how Cambridge management is paid when compared to the same municipalities – the result confirms what we suspected – our members are vastly underpaid while management, appearing on the province’s ‘sunshine list,’ does not have that problem.”

Burigana is referring to a presentation he made to the employer during bargaining that showed management employees, on average, are being paid 15 to 20 per cent higher than management in similar positions in other municipalities, while Cambridge ‘outside’ workers, providing similar services, are paid significantly lower, with some workers being paid 12 per cent lower than their counterparts in other municipalities.

“Our members are proud to serve the residents of Cambridge and we want to continue to deliver quality public services that our community relies on,” continued Burigana. “We all work for the same employer whose core values include ‘respect, inclusiveness and integrity,’ yet, when we see the stark disparity between how management and front-line workers are being treated, all we can think of is unfairness and disrespect for our work.”

“We hope the employer returns to the bargaining table and lives up to its core values by addressing the disparity issue properly,” said Burigana. “All our members are looking for is a fair contract that shows that our work is valued and to be respected and treated fairly.” Both parties are set to return to the bargaining table for mediation talks on Tuesday, January 31.

CUPE 32 represents 185 ‘outside’ workers in Cambridge who provide roads maintenance including snow removal, water and wastewater services, arena maintenance, cemetery services, parks and pools maintenance and mechanical services, among others. The workers’ last contract expired on December 31, 2016.