CUPE civic employees in Thunder Bay ended their three month strike on Tuesday July 28 winning their most most important issue: job security from contracting out.
A total of 93 per cent of the membership voted on Monday, July 27, and 72 per cent of those approved the city’s last offer. The offer was not signed by the local until after the vote count. City Council ratified the document later that evening.
“When 28 per cent of the workforce rejects the contract then you know that they were not excited by its contents,” said Local 87 President, Judith Mongrain. “But the members felt it was time to go back to work.”
The deal contains a 75 00700065r hour increase in the first year, 0 in the second and 2 per cent plus a ‘one time only’ lump sum..
The most important provision for the union was the improvement of the contracting out clause guaranteeing that no CUPE member will be laid off because of contracting out - including non-permanent employees.
“Local 87’s members were at the forefront of the fight to protect Canada’s public services against contracting-out for three hard months” said CUPE president, Judy Darcy. “They showed their determination to protect Thunder Bay’s civic services and CUPE is proud of them. Their determination will inspire thousands of other CUPE members who are also protecting public services from the waste and inefficiency of contracting-out services.” The deal was put to the members on Sunday, July 26, to decide whether or not to conduct a formal vote. This occurred after City Council withdrew an unacceptable clause that would have allowed workers to be suspended or fired for incidents relating to the dispute.
“Perhaps the proudest moment of the strike was when our members rejected the city offer containing the discipline clause by 100 per cent last Monday,” said Mongrain. “We went out together and we are going back in together. Our members have their heads held high.” “This strike was about respect and dignity as much as anything else,” said Barry Chezick, Co-Chair of the Union Committee. “From that perspective we can claim a 100 per cent victory. If the city learned anything from this strike it has to be that it has to deal with us with honesty and integrity. It remains to be seen whether relations will improve or whether the City will fall back into the same pattern that caused the strike in the first place.”
“We knew when we obtained the 88 per cent strike mandate that it could very well be a long strike,” said Mongrain. “In fact members were urged to vote “no” if they weren’t prepared for a long fight. Every one of them proved that they were up to it over the last 91 days.”
“The wage issue was the one area that the union fell short on,” said CUPE Representive , Howard Matthews. “It was hard for any of us to believe that the Mayor and City Council would throw away a Thunder Bay summer, keep hundreds of workers unemployed, not counting our members, and allow literally tens of millions of dollars to be lost to the city economy when all it would have taken was a few hundred thousand dollars to avoid this strike.” “It will take a long time for the scars to heal,”said Mongrain. “The best thing that we had going for us in this strike was the fact that our membership is a first rate workforce. Over time, our committment to our jobs will rise above our negative feelings toward City ‘leaders’.