Wood Buffalo Housing (WBH) in Fort McMurray AB served its 49 employees lock out notice today, meaning that as of Friday at 4:30pm, employees will be forced to hit the picket lines.

WBH is a non-profit subsidiary of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo which provides housing to residents of Fort McMurray.

CUPE 1505 President Judy Collier said her members do not want to stop serving residents and the community, but the WBH is forcing their hands.

“Wood Buffalo Housing wants to lay off groundskeepers, maintenance staff, and housekeepers and replace them with minimum wage contractors without benefits,” said Collier. “Not only will that not save money, it will result in poorly maintained properties. And nobody is better off with that.”

“This is not about wages. This is about our members wanting to do what they were hired to do – take care of residents and their homes.”

Collier said CUPE knows from past experience that contracting out doesn’t actually save any money, as most of the lost wages are still paid to the contractor.

“It’s better to just pay staff a living wage and get better service for it.”

Collier says her members are ready to stand up for residents, even if it means getting locked out by their employer.

“If WBH wants to save money, they can and should work with their employees to find efficiencies,” said Collier. “That’s how you build a strong company, and how you serve your residents best.”

“Someone has to stand up for our community here, because WBH sure isn’t.”