BARRIE –The County of Simcoe has locked out almost 200 municipal support staff and social assistance workers.
“The employees of the county are shocked that the county would resort to such an extreme measure,” says Robert Penrose, the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2710. “The county was changing the locks on the doors before the workers had even voted on their latest offer.”
The locked out workers belong to CUPE Local 2710, which represents 142 social service workers who provide social assistance and children’s services and CUPE Local 3110, which represents 54 workers who provide services in the following departments: Roads and Engineering, Planning, Environmental Services, County Library, County Museum, County Archives, and Administrative and Financial services.
“Earlier this month, we said the county appeared bent on confrontation,” says Penrose. “County negotiators applied for a strike/lockout deadline. CUPE had no proper opportunity to bargain a collective agreement. The county is attempting to intimidate its employees into accepting an inferior contract.”
Last night, the members of the two locals voted resoundingly to reject the county’s latest offer. “There is so much unfairness here,” says Penrose. “They want to remove our right to have jobs posted when they become permanent. They want to take away our modified work week, where we work just as many hours, but on a flexible schedule, and they want to give us tiny wage increases while they are rewarding managers with 27 to 40 per cent raises.”
CUPE says that front-line workers are overworked. “Staff levels are down, except for managers and they are being rewarded with fat raises,” says Penrose. “Front-line staff are overworked and fed up.”
The union says that labour relations have deteriorated badly since the county started relying on an outside consultant to run its labour relations. “We have gone from cooperation to confrontation,” says Penrose. “We have picket lines up at the county building and they have private security guards videotaping us. It’s ridiculous. They are willing to spend big money on everything but nothing on the employees who deliver the services.”
Contact: Rob Penrose President, Local 2710 705-770-4219 or 705-730-0327
Denzil D’Souza Staff Representative 705-722-7387
Shannon McManus CUPE Communications 416-292-3999 or 416-766-3252