Group of people posing with flags and picket signs300 full-time members of CUPE 53, outside municipal workers in the town of Whitby, Ontario, ratified a new collective agreement, ending a strike that began on October 14.

“It was a long strike where, day after day, we sent the employer a message that their initial offer just wasn’t good enough,” said Rob Radford, president of CUPE 53. “And that shows in the fact that what the members ratified yesterday is a clear improvement from where the employer initially pushed.”

The 300 full-time municipal workers were on the line over the employer’s insistence on an indefinite number of temporary assignments on members; and shift schedules where workers would be made available over a greater period of time, leading to compressed work weeks and rotating shifts. Unfortunately, according to Radford, the union was not able to ward off some of these concessions over the course of bargaining. 

“The reality is this deal isn’t perfect, to put it mildly,” said Radford. “There will still be significant scheduling and hours issues for new employees. And for current employees who are promoted or transferred, they will be subject to the new hours and scheduling contract language. But what I’ll say right now is that the employer is on notice. We’ll be campaigning through the life of this contract and bringing attention to whatever impacts our members might face because of it. And we’ll be ready for the next round of bargaining.”