Anger continues to rage at the Office municipal d’habitation de Québec (OMHQ) where 140 employees are attempting to renew their collective agreement.

Little progress has been made in spite of 16 months of talks, more than 12 in-person meetings and several telephone and email exchanges during the confinement, not to mention the presence of a mediator for two 60-day periods.

The collective agreement expired on December 31, 2019. Although the union has made major concessions, talks continue to bog down on various issues, particularly schedules, the union representation plan and monetary clauses.

The union has long railed against the toxic atmosphere of the negotiations. The situation has deteriorated to the point that the union filed a complaint against the employer with the Tribunal administratif du travail (TAT) for union interference and bad-faith bargaining. The Tribunal agreed, in part, with the union, and the OMHQ was fined $2,500 for interfering in union business.

The OMHQ response

Last week, the employer’s bargaining committee issued its final offer to the union. In addition to the rollbacks from the previous offer made in December 2020, which resulted in 80% voting for strike action, the OMHQ stepped up its arrogance by declaring that it would ask the TAT to take a vote pursuant to section 58.2 of the Labour Code. This raised the ire of the union representatives, who will pull out all stops to arrive at a negotiated agreement for their members.

“Even though we’ve made several concessions, OMQH representatives stubbornly continue to bargain dishonestly. They go so far as to lie in their exchanges and have ignored the TAT ruling. They are attempting, in particular, to divide our members while discrediting the union spokesperson. We won’t take this lying down!” declared CUPE union representative Mario Jean.

In addition, the union has announced the start of a large-scale media campaign to take place over the coming weeks to alert members of the public and public-sector decision makers on the bullheadedness and provocations by the executives of the organization.

The OMHQ blue-collar workers consist of maintenance attendants, storespersons, repair staff, plumbers and electricians. White-collar workers include administrative support workers, customer and rental service personnel, dispatchers, office staff, technicians and social/community workers.