In the fifth week of a strike, the Town of Cochrane is effectively bargaining backwards with the more than 60 municipal workers who keep parks and roads safe, daycares open, and the town’s finances in order.

The fight has centered around necessary improvement to wages for members from CUPE 71 at a time of skyrocketing costs of living. Cochrane is calling a forced vote on what they’ve described as their final offer. The deal, though, contains less in wages than previous offers that were rejected by members.

“We brought back two tentative deals to our members that were better than this, and they said no to both. We can’t afford to live on what the town is offering us, but the mayor just refuses to listen,” said Lyne Nolet, an Operations Clerk worker and President of CUPE 71. “No amount of spin from the mayor is going to change this. This deal is worse. It will hurt workers and it will hurt Cochrane.”

Cochrane’s town council has hired private companies to perform many of the striking workers’ tasks, often at three-times the cost. The forced vote escalation is another example of their willingness to do anything but fairly resolve the issues. Residents of Cochrane, meanwhile, have loudly sided with striking workers, sending roughly 200 messages demanding council do right by workers.

“We’ve been incredibly moved by the support we’ve received from our neighbours and organizations across Cochrane. We’re all facing a cost-of-living crisis and people in Cochrane understand that workers need a fair wage,” said Nolet. “The only reason the mayor and council are forcing this vote is because they think our solidarity has cracked. Well, I have news for them: we have not fought this long and this hard to accept less than we need.”