Thirty-three workers with the Social Services Department of Northumberland County are entering contract negotiations with the assistance of a provincially appointed conciliator on Thursday, and they are armed with a strong strike mandate. The workers, represented by CUPE 3725, work in income support, housing, childcare, and outreach.

“We’ve only had a day and a half of talks with our employer to date,” said Jaime Bingham, President of CUPE 3725. “And they seem determined to provoke conflict. Our employer is looking to strip our contract of long-established workplace practices. They also want to weaken modest benefits, like our sick leave plan. We question their commitment to reach a negotiated settlement with us, but we are hoping for a more cooperative tone when we get back to the table.”

“This is a group of workers that supports the most vulnerable residents in Northumberland County,” said Charlotte Monardo, CUPE National Representative. “We are seeking a fair contract – just like the County has negotiated with its other bargaining units. We wonder why the County is so focused on attacking long-standing provisions of the social service workers’ contract. Particularly in the weeks before Christmas, this is an aggressive approach to be taking with people who provide vital services to the elderly, the homeless, and to other vulnerable residents.”

CUPE 3725 members have taken a strike vote and they have given their bargaining committee a 100% strike mandate. No strike or lockout deadline has been set at this point. The workers have been without a contract since September 30. Currently, no other days of bargaining have been scheduled beyond Thursday, December 12.

Northumberland County recently settled a new contract with its road’s workers.