SCHREIBER, Ont. – Local 87 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 13 municipal workers in the Town of Schreiber, Ontario, hopes upcoming mediation talks will assist the union and town management negotiate a fair collective agreement, but the union feels the threat of a strike or lockout is serious after Town management continued to demand cutbacks in recent conciliation talks.
“Our members, like all residents of Schreiber, have made sacrifices in the past, particularly in these difficult times for the area,” said Lisa Steenerson, CUPE National Representative. “We are doing everything we can to reach a negotiated settlement and want residents to understand that in the past we have given up wage increases to keep our members employed. The difficulty we face is that Council and management are demanding cuts to our benefits, sick leave and vacation provisions, on top of the many sacrifices our members have made over the years. At some point it becomes untenable and we need to stand up for decent working conditions.”
CUPE represents inside and outside municipal workers in Schreiber, providing all municipal services, from accounting, to by-law enforcement, to cleaning municipal offices and providing recreation services by inside workers, and including all public works (summer and winter road maintenance and plowing/salting), sidewalk maintenance and repair, water and wastewater services, storm sewer maintenance, cemetery (burials), maintenance of all town equipment and other municipal services.
“A lock-out or strike would put roads and water safety at risk, and we are urging residents to contact their elected officials and demand they treat workers fairly, to reach a negotiated settlement and avert a strike or lockout,” added Steenerson. (Contact information for Council: Mayor Don McArthur (807) 621-9970, firstname.lastname@example.org; Councillor Mark Figliomeni (807) 824-2711 or (807) 824-2485; Councillor Bob Krause (807) 824-2711 ext. 293 or (807) 824-2292, email@example.com; Councillor Lorraine Huard (807) 824-2711 ext. 291 or (807) 824-2757; Councillor Patrick Halonen (807) 824-2711 ext. 292 or (807) 824-2999)
“All our members want is to continue providing quality public services to Town residents, as we have been doing continuously without a labour dispute since 1981,” said Steenerson. “A strike or lockout would devastate this town and cause real hardship for families, shut down services like the recreation centre, and jeopardize public safety while incurring extra costs that would cancel out any perceived savings management thinks they will make through benefit cuts.”
Steenerson pointed out that much of the Town’s financial difficulties can be attributed to the administration’s failure to collect unpaid municipal taxes for a number of years. “On one hand the Mayor and Council failed to deal with tax arrears approaching three million dollars, while on the other hand they want to claw back our members’ working conditions – it adds to the level of unfairness we face in this community, both as workers and residents,” added Steenerson.
Mediation talks are scheduled for December 3, 2013. The workers previously voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike in the event a fair settlement cannot be reached.
For further information, please contact:
Lisa Steenerson, CUPE National Representative, 807-345-1731
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications, 905-739-3999