Following last week’s trespassing notice against striking municipal workers in Black River-Matheson, Ontario,  CUPE is challenging the effort to criminalize workers, according to the union.

“These courageous CUPE 1490 members are engaged in a legal strike and they’re making a legitimate call for better wages for workers who deliver important services,” said Mark Hancock, National President of CUPE. “I know that every single one of the 740,000 members of CUPE across this country would be outraged to hear that the charter-protected act of picketing is being attacked by the Township. Workers deserve to have their voices heard and we’re here to let Black River-Matheson, and anyone else who even considers such limits to the freedom of expression, know that this will not stand.”

On February 15, the Township issued a trespass notice excluding the 14 striking members of CUPE 1490 from three municipal locations. Additionally, and very concerningly according to the union, the notice also excludes “members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees” and “employees from the Canadian Union of Public Employees”.

“We got our legal advice and we’ve already made the decision that CUPE will challenge this improper and indefensible move; challenge the trespass notice by supplementing our existing Unfair Labour Practice complaint; and we intend to challenge the notice before the Superior Court,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “Local 1490 knows we have their back, and this Township will know that what they’re doing won’t stand.”

“The township also doesn’t appear to have thought this through – either that, or it doesn’t mind that it is putting resident at risk. This notice means a paramedic who’s a CUPE member and a member of the community could be charged for taking an emergency call at the arena,” said Hahn. “Does the Township really intend to charge the CUPE paramedics called for an emergency or the Public Health Inspectors coming into the area? For the safety of Black River-Matheson residents, there’s no way we can just let this happen without the full force of our opposition.”