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MATHESON, ON – Black River-Matheson municipal workers, who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 1490), have unanimously rejected an employer offer that includes major concessions such as two-tier benefits for new hires.

In the past, negotiations with the municipality have been fair. But since a new administrator was hired, problems with labour relations have surfaced. Now those problems have spilled over into bargaining. The employer has tabled major concessions and refused mediation, which is the usual course when bargaining proves difficult and both sides are motivated to reach a settlement.

However, it’s clear this employer isn’t interested in settling a contract; they are aiming to lock out the workers, says Canadian Union of Public Employees national staff representative Denis Regimbald, who adds that the municipality filed for a ‘no board report’ with the Ministry of Labour today, which sets the clock ticking to a lockout or strike deadline of 12:01 a.m., Friday, August 5.

Among the concessions tabled by the municipality is a proposal that would give new employees hired diminished sick leave benefits. Removal of the cost of living allowance (COLA) clause is also a key sticking point in the talks.

Introducing a two-tier system for sick leave benefits is incredibly destructive for morale in the workplace. It pits new workers against senior staff and opens the door to other divisive two-tier-type concessions. It is not something we will accept,” says Regimbald.

The 20 CUPE 1490 members, who provide both inside and outside municipal services, have taken two strike votes. Both votes resulted in overwhelming support for a strike.

Our goal is to reach a settlement. But we’ve seen no evidence that the municipality wants the same thing. The Reeve and council should be clear they will wear a lockout for years to come,” says Regimbald.

For more information, contact:

Denis Regimbald CUPE National Representative (705) 264-1269
Stella Yeadon CUPE Communications (416) 578-8774