Township of Wellesley Council Chambers
Township of Wellesley Council Chambers photo by Jfvoll CC BY-SA 4.0

Outside workers for Wellesley Township, Ontario, represented by CUPE 1542, voted unanimously to authorize their union to take strike action if a fair deal can not be reached in the current round of contract negotiations.

The vote took place in a virtual meeting held last week in which all members voted in favour of authorizing the union to take strike action. The union says that this is a precautionary move that does not mean a labour disruption will happen, but it shows that the members are serious about negotiating a fair deal.

“Our goal has always been to negotiate a fair contract, and that hasn’t changed,” said Chris Roth, President of CUPE 1542. “These frontline workers have been hard at work during COVID-19, we’ve been flexible in addressing the needs of the community during this unprecedented time. We’ve come to the bargaining table with very few proposals because we believe the best thing to do at this point is focus on getting a deal that keeps people working and keeps services running.”

The decision to seek a strike mandate vote from the members was made after the township proposed numerous changes to the collective agreement.

“We’ve had a contract in place for years that everyone has been able to live with, but now the town wants to rewrite the whole thing,” said Roth. “We know that the COVID-19 period is a difficult time, but it doesn’t mean it’s time to rewrite an agreement that has been in place for years. What we need is for everyone to keep focused on getting a fair deal and keeping vital services running for the residents of Wellesley.”

Negotiations between the two parties will continue with a provincially appointed conciliation officer, however no upcoming dates have been scheduled.

CUPE 1542 represents 12 outside workers, whose duties include road maintenance, landscaping and work in the township’s recreation facilities. Their last collective agreement was a three-year contract that expired on December 31, 2020.