Wayne Lucas, the president of CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador, is slamming a government decision to hire an outside law firm to handle master bargaining with public sector unions.

Says Lucas, “The decision by Premier Ball to retain McInnes-Cooper for legal and so-called crisis communications during this round of contract talks is yet more evidence that they have very little knowledge or respect for the negotiating process.

“For over 40 years now, CUPE and the other unions have freely negotiated contracts with senior staff at Treasury Board, and we’ve almost always been able to reach settlements. So why the sudden change,” asks Lucas.

Lucas says, “This also flies in the face of the government’s attempts to reduce costs. Why on earth would they pay an outside firm $500 an hour, when they have qualified staff who can do this work?  Not only is this insulting to their own staff, but we are left to conclude that this is being done so that someone else can do their dirty work for them.”

Lucas says, “This is the same firm that was involved in an 11-month labour dispute at the St. John’s Airport, and an 18-month strike at Voisey’s Bay.  If they think they’re going to intimidate our members with these kinds of tactics, I can assure them it’s not working.

“CUPE members will not be bullied, especially by anti-union lawyers getting paid $500 an hour by our own government,” says Lucas.