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PEMBROKE – The union representing Renfrew County Housing Employees is challenging the claims made by Renfrew County that the employer’s bargaining proposals are made to “standardize” the working conditions of Housing employees with those of other employees at the County.

“They talk about the need to standardize, but what they’re demanding is not standardization – it’s cherry picking to gut our collective agreement,” says CUPE National Representative Susan Arab. “Non-union employees enjoy LTD coverage – but they want to eliminate our LTD coverage, and members at Bonnechere Manor and Miramachi Lodge have job security and contracting out protections that they are denying to our members.”

“It’s clear this employer has no intention of negotiating with us. Management wants us to sign off on major concessions as a condition to returning to the bargaining table,” says Bill Jamieson, Local 4425 President. “We would have to agree to give up long-term disability (LTD) benefits, agree to pay 25% of our benefit premiums and accept other concessions – just to get back to the negotiating table. It’s a recipe for a lockout that will hurt our residents and our community.”

“A lockout or strike at Renfrew County Housing Corporation can only be avoided if both parties get back to the table,” says Arab. So far management has refused to do so. It was the Employer who previously applied to the ministry of Labour to start the countdown to a legal strike or lockout position March 10th, 2003.

Renfrew County politicians also refused the union’s request to speak at this week’s council meeting. “Not only do they want to bust our union – they want to shut down democracy too,” says Arab.

“Residents of Renfrew County, including Pembroke, Arnprior, Renfrew, Barry’s Bay, Palmers Rapids, Eganville, Cobden, Beachburg and Deep River, don’t deserve the inconvenience of a lockout, especially one forced on them by local politicians,” says Jamieson. “We’re calling on residents to get on the phone, and tell their elected representatives they won’t stand for this union and community bashing.”

Takeaways demanded by the employer would take thousands of dollars out of employees’ pockets with increased benefit premiums and cuts to benefits, including parental and pregnancy leave reductions. “The county has already acknowledged the need for LTD with its non-union workers – why would they want to take it away from us? That’s not standardization,” says Arab.


For further information, please contact:
Susan Arab, CUPE National Rep.
Bill Jamieson, Local 4425 President
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications