Outside workers for the Town of Oakville were joined by residents and labour allies yesterday for a rally at Cross Avenue and Trafalgar Road. The workers rallied in support of their negotiating team’s efforts to secure a fair contract that recognizes the rising cost of living.

“The cost of housing, gas and groceries in Oakville has skyrocketed in recent years, and our wages haven’t come close to keeping up. As a result, the standard of living for town employees has been dropping year after year. It can’t continue,” said Peter Knafelc, president of CUPE 136. “Oakville is one of the wealthiest communities in Canada. This is a municipality that can afford for its employees to keep up with inflation.”

The workers have been without a contract since February 15, and the Town of Oakville has refused to make an offer that even keeps up with the current rate of inflation, let alone one which addresses the significant loss in purchasing power the employees have suffered in recent years. CUPE 136 is also continuing to resist the town negotiators’ demand that workers move backwards on many clauses in their contract, while also insisting on restrictions on 12-hour shifts in winter operations that have seriously compromised employees’ work-life balance.

“The town wants to cut our health benefits and accept a scheduling system that means everybody is working on standby or on call every weekend. We have families. We have kids. We need to be able to make plans and be good parents, and the town won’t let that happen,” said Knafelc.

Outside workers were joined by community member and members of CUPE 1329, who are the towns inside workers, as well as CUPE 79 representing inside and recreation workers in the City of Toronto, and others.

The Town of Oakville set the clock ticking toward a strike or lockout when they filed for  a “no board” on October 10.

CUPE 136 comprises 267 outside municipal workers employed by the Town of Oakville. They are proud to provide high-quality public services to the town’s residents in arenas, cemeteries, community centres, gardens, harbours, parks, as well as performing road repairs and winter road clearing.