Striking workers holding picket signsIn the 14th week of a strike, the township of Black River-Matheson is effectively bargaining backwards with the 14 municipal workers who keep the roads safe, the arena operating, and the town running smoothly, says CUPE 1490.

“We have held out for this long because we fundamentally disagree with their approach of robbing the next generation and this forced vote is just another sign that they will do whatever they can to slash wages,” said Serge Bouchard, President of CUPE 1490. “We want to go back to work for the residents of this town, but we need a good deal to end this lockout.”

The Black River-Matheson municipal workers have made it clear that the key issue is necessary wage improvements at a time of skyrocketing costs of living in northern communities. In the face of this, the township is calling a forced vote on what they have described as their final offer. However, the deal, according to the union, contains less in wages for new hires than previous offers that have been rejected and will only make recruitment and retention an issue.

Over the course of the lock out, Black River-Matheson’s town council has hired private companies to perform many of the locked-out workers’ tasks.

“The forced vote escalation is another example of their willingness to do anything but fairly resolve the issues,” said Bouchard. “But residents are seeing through their tactics. The support we have received from our neighbours and organizations across Ontario has been incredible and important. We are all facing a cost-of-living crisis and people, especially across the North, understand that workers need a fair wage for a day’s work. The fact is that the only reason the mayor is forcing this vote is because he thinks our solidarity has cracked. Well, I have news for him: we have not fought this long and this hard to accept less than we need.”