On Friday, October 14th members of CUPE 1490 at the Township of Black River-Matheson overwhelmingly voted down a “final offer” their employer tried to impose. The supervised vote was conducted by the Ministry of Labour at the request of the Township.

“Our members have sent a clear message to the employer that we won’t stand for two-tiered agreements that sell out future generations in Black River-Matheson,” said Sonya Moffat, president of Local 1490. “This union is taking a principled stand against the weakening of already very modest benefits in our contract.”

The current contract expired in March, 2016, and the parties have been in talks since May. The local has been in a legal strike or lockout position since September 10th. However, in an effort to focus on negotiating a settlement, the parties agreed to take no job action until 10 days following a supervised vote. The failure of the employer’s final offer puts the local in strike position on October 24th at 12:01 a.m. The local has a 100% strike mandate from its membership.

In 2014, these same workers were locked out for seven weeks by their employer. “Mayor Garry Edwards ran on a platform that included securing labour peace after the destructive lockout two years ago. We took him at his word. We entered this round of bargaining with a modest package, hoping to find a willing partner. Instead of labour peace, we find an employer again pushing concessions and threatening an imposed contract,” said Moffat.

CUPE National Representative Tammy Robinson expressed her dismay that the Township has pushed things to the brink once again. “The Township has shown a real unwillingness to truly negotiate, to find middle ground with us. They’re pushing the same agenda that resulted in a seven-week lockout in 2014. We hope they hear the clear message sent by the rejection of their package and their tactics,” said Robinson.

Moffat and Robinson both stressed they were available to bargain between now and the October 24th deadline.

CUPE 1490 represents 16 inside and outside workers at the Township of Black River-Matheson.