SUDBURY, Ont. – Negotiators for Local 4705 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing over 1200 inside and outside workers with the City of Greater Sudbury, are warning the public a strike may be unavoidable if municipal council and city management don’t back away from concession demands at the bargaining table.
“We are trying our best to reach a fair contract without concessions,” said Wyman MacKinnon, president of CUPE 4705. “The mayor and councillors seem to have set the stage for another strike like the one they let happen with hydro last year – we’re asking for public support to help us avoid a strike this time.”
“In many ways management is trying to play divide and conquer,” said CUPE National Representative Dennis Burke. “They’re seeking concessions from different groups, trying to remove shift differentials for transit workers, for example, and refusing to adjust the pay of paramedics and water workers to bring them up to provincial standards – it’s a recipe for disaster.” CUPE is worried that staff retention will become a problem if the city doesn’t address the wage parity issue.
Conciliation talks are scheduled for June 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. If the talks fail, the city could face a summer strike by inside and outside workers affecting all public services offered by the municipal government, except city police and fire services. Services provided by city workers include garbage collection, transit, paramedics, parks and recreation, pools, community centres, planning, engineering, clerical and technical services, airport firefighting, sewage and water, libraries, roads, street cleaning, social services (welfare, workfare), and daycares.
“Our inside and outside members have given us an almost unanimous strike mandate and we are prepared to withdraw our services if that’s what it takes to get a deal without concessions,” said MacKinnon. A strike by city workers would virtually shut down the city.
“We’re asking members of the public to call local politicians and tell them they not to repeat the fiasco they made of hydro negotiations last year,” said MacKinnon. “They won’t be able to hide behind a board or commission this time – councillors and the mayor will be held directly accountable for a loss of services in the event of a strike or lockout.”
CUPE representatives will hold a media availability to elaborate on outstanding issues and the status of strike preparations, and to answer questions from reporters on Tuesday, May 31, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon at the CUPE Sudbury Office, 2nd floor, 888 Regent St. in Sudbury.
For further information, please contact:
CUPE National Rep.
Sudbury Area Office