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ELLIOT LAKE Inside and outside municipal workers in Elliot Lake voted 100% in favour of strike action last night if negotiations with the municipality fail to reach a fair deal. Local 170 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents the 55 municipal employees offering road maintenance, water treatment and sewage services, parks and arena maintenance, office, clerical and other inside and outside services.

We really havent had a wage increase in 10 years, says Richard Bull, president of CUPE Local 170. Our modest wage proposal of 5% doesnt even help us catch up the ground we lost to inflation over the years and still the answer was NO.

The employer has continued to refuse the unions request to include part-time workers in the contract, and improved benefits with a modest wage increase.

People are leaving Elliot Lake in droves, says Bull. We asked the municipality to take a leadership roll and offer seniority and benefits to part-time workers maybe some of them would stay in our community if they had the hope of accumulating seniority and one day landing a full-time job.

The employers own costing of our proposals is $152,900 a year, says Steve Boyle, CUPE National Representative. This would not impact on taxpayers because Elliot Lake, like other municipalities in Ontario, has enjoyed a contribution holiday to the municipal pension plan (OMERS), worth $155,000 annually since 1998 and that will continue until at least 2003.

Our members have made sacrifices in the past, foregoing raises and tightening belts for the social contract and a shrinking municipal tax base, but enough is enough, adds Bull. When we started enjoying a pension contribution holiday, municipal councilors suddenly decide to join our pension plan they havent even made any contributions to date. Now they wont even negotiate a deal thats fair.

Union negotiators have applied for conciliation, but no dates have been scheduled. The strike mandate gives the Union Executive the power to call a strike if a deal cannot be achieved.

We care about the services we provide to the community and weve made sacrifices in the past, says Bull. We will do everything in our power to reach a negotiated settlement, but a strike is a real possibility if the municipalitys attitude doesnt change.

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For further information, please contact:
Richard Bull, President, Local 170
(705) 562-6882

Steve Boyle, CUPE National Rep.
(705) 949-6221

Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications
(416) 292-3999