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Régis Labeaume should issue a retraction by Sunday evening or we will sue

In response to statements that have crossed the line, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Syndicat des employés manuels (CUPE 1638) jointly have given notice to Mayor Régis Labeaume to issue a retraction by midnight Sunday. If he does not retract before Monday, CUPE promises to “sue Quebec City and [Régis Labeaume] personally before any judicial or quasi-judicial bodies, without further notice or delay.”

Served by CUPE lawyers early on Friday, the notice asks the mayor of Quebec City to issue a retraction “and to stop tarnishing the reputation” of the blue-collar workers and their unions. It also states that Régis Labeaume’s words, including those released on October 15, are “false and defamatory and seek only one thing: to wantonly tarnish the reputation of our client, its integrity, its credibility and its honesty for … blatantly electoral ends.”

You cannot say just anything

A little over a week ago, Régis Labeaume announced that he would ask employees to increase their hours by 6% and reduce their wages by 6%. In a press conference this morning, the negotiator for the blue collars, Eddy Jomphe, critiqued this declaration by the Mayor.

“The issue of a 6% increase in hours has been settled since May 13,” noted Jomphe. The citizens need to know that the Mayor is taking them for a ride.” As for the of 6% pay cut, the union representative presented a document from the City of Quebec that representatives of management had brought to the negotiating table with the City’s salary offers of 1.5% for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

“This is just one example,” added the union negotiator. “When we claim that the Mayor is deluding the people, this is what we’re talking about. If the Mayor is such a straight shooter, then let him speak the truth. Unless he wants to contradict his own negotiating committee? “

In addition, the president of the manual employee’s union, Daniel Simard, explained that “in the field, the blue-collar workers are the butt of daily remonstrance, insults and sarcasm from the citizens. The situation has become unliveable,” he said. This is Régis Labeaume’s lovely program!”

Finally, the CUPE executive publicly confirmed its support for the blue-collar workers. “The documents distributed by Mayor Labeaume undermine fundamental rights, such as freedom of negotiation,” noted Marc Ranger, Assistant Regional Director of CUPE. “This is not just an attack on union members in the City of Quebec,” he said.

The Quebec City blue-collar union has about 1,100 members. Their collective agreement expired on December 31, 2010.

Negotiations between Quebec City and its blue collars began in February 2011. Since that time, labour and management have held 40 negotiating sessions, including 31 in the presence of a mediator appointed by the Ministry of Labour. From May 24 to December 21, 2012, the blue-collar workers went on an overtime strike. They had not exercised the right to strike for more than 25 years.

With more than 110,000 members in Quebec, CUPE represents about 70% of the province’s municipal employees, who account for 30,500 of the union’s members. CUPE is also present in the following sectors: health and social services, communications, education, energy, government corporations and public agencies, urban and air transport, the mixed sector, and universities.