Black River-Matheson lockout poses threat to services as heavy snow season begins

Since October 15, the municipal workers in the township of Black River-Matheson, members of CUPE 1490, have been locked out of their workplaces, leading to a dangerous suspension of essential services that directly affects the community, says the union.

“Our members are eager to get back to work and resume delivering vital services to our community because the residents deserve better,” says Serge Bouchard, president of CUPE 1490. “The current situation not only affects our dedicated workers but places an undue burden on the local residents who depend on these services and who will soon be facing a heavy snow season. So, it’s disheartening that the employer’s been so unwilling to get back to the table and has even been outright antagonistic.”

In a video from the picket line, the Mayor, Doug Bender, confronts the locked-out members, and, according to Bouchard, “conveyed an aggressive message to the workers”, suggesting they seek new employment.

“This unconstructive approach from a key figure only intensifies the challenges faced by the union members and underscores the urgency for the employer to engage in meaningful dialogue for the benefit of everyone involved,” said Bouchard. “It’s disheartening to see the employer prolonging and even worsening this dispute. Our members are ready and willing to engage in constructive dialogue, but we need the employer to reciprocate in order to reach a resolution that benefits everyone involved.”

Bouchard points out that the community is already facing challenges, such as children stranded on school buses and individuals with mobility issues unable to use sidewalks due to the lack of snow removal services.

CUPE 1490 urges the employer to reconsider their stance and return to the bargaining table. The union is advocating for a swift resolution that includes the same deal without any concessions, ensuring the uninterrupted provision of vital services to the community.

“What’s it going to take for the employer to prioritize the well-being of our community and get back to the table?” Bouchard asks. “We call on them to think about the impacts on local residents, especially as we approach a heavy snow season. Our members are ready to work; it’s time for the employer to join us in scrapping the concessions and bargaining a good deal.”

Township of Black River-Matheson locks out workers to impose unequal wages

Fourteen, full-time, municipal workers at the Township of Black River-Matheson have been locked-out of their workplace as of Sunday, October 15, mainly over the issue of unequal wages, says CUPE 1490.

“The employer has been pushing a two-tier wage, something we consider fundamentally divisive because it will mean that new members will get less; there’s a possibility that junior employees will as well, and even senior members when they post to job classifications of higher wages,” said Serge Bouchard, president of CUPE 1490, representing the 14 workers. “Two-tier bargaining is unfair to new hires and weakens the union because it undermines union solidarity. For this reason, I’m so proud of the brave members of this bargaining committee who have stood strong against the employer’s proposal for unequal wages among the membership.”

The union is currently calling on the employer to end the lockout.

“We care about the services we deliver and we know that residents depend on our work,” said Bouchard. “That’s why we’re calling on the employer to get back to the table. And we’re calling on council to support us in getting a good deal by letting the employer know that two-tier wages are unacceptable.”