Negotiations stalled, job action possible
Municipal workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees picketed out in front of city hall on Monday evening while city councillors were inside getting an update about the ongoing contract negotiations.
National representative Keith Sandford said negotiations have made little-to-no progress since September, and some of the contracts being renegotiated have now been expired for more than years.
“Some contracts have now gone into their third year (of being expired .) As far as we are concerned. there is still a zero on the table,” said Sandford in reference the city’s council’s decision, made public by the Standard-Free holder, to push for a one-year wage freeze for 2017 in the new contracts. “We are not any closer than we were in September.”
CUPE members at the Cornwall Public Library saw their contract expire in 2015. Other CUPE members working across the city in various positions, including some at Glen Stor Dun Lodge and the Cornwall/ SDG paramedics, have been working under an expired contract since September or December of 2016.
The CUPE bargaining teams met with the city for negotiations most recently in January, and the two sides are expected to meet again from Feb. 20-24.
Sandford would not say what the sticking points are, because he cannot talk directly about what is happening at the bargaining table. There are several outstanding issues though, he said, and one of them is the wage freeze.
“That issue hasn’ t gone anywhere ,” he said.
The Standard-Free holder reached out to Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy by phone on Tuesday asking for some kind of update on the negotiations from the city’s perspective but didn’t hear back.
Although Sand ford said there is no need for residents to worry about an imminent strike just yet, the union is beginning the early preparations for one. If the next round of negotiations taking place this month isn’t fruitful either, decisions will have to be made.
“We are preparing for strike action, if necessary,” confirmed Sandford. “We’ll have to talk about what we’ll do (after these negotiations) amongst the different locals. We’re here tonight to tell council ‘let’s get moving and get this deal done.’”
Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees who work for the City of Cornwall and their families rally in front of city hall on Monday.