Cambridge's outside workers strike as negotiations break down

Arenas and pools are closed and parks and trails won't be maintained as outside workers in Cambridge hit the picket lines Thursday.

Minor hockey teams trying to find alternate rinks for games

Cambridge's outside workers are on strike after talks between the union and the city broke down. (@CUPE1882/Twitter)

Cambridge's outside workers have hit the picket lines saying they want fair and equitable wages from the city.

City staff announced talks broke down Monday night and the workers, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 32, had rejected the city's latest offer.

The strike means all arenas, pools and outdoor rinks are closed. City staff are working with the Cambridge Sports Park to have some sports organizations move there for games.

As well, city parks and trails will not be maintained. 

"We remain committed to continue negotiations with the union," city manager Gary Dyke said in a statement.

"Together, we need to negotiate a reasonable agreement for all our employees that is affordable for taxpayers. We want to resolve this matter and restore services as quickly as possible." 

City wants to create plan to increase pay

The workers say they are underpaid when compared to colleagues in other municipalities.

Mayor Doug Craig does not disagree, but he told CBC News the city needs to come up with a plan that is fair to workers and taxpayers.

"We have said we want to enter into a job evaluation format that has been adopted across Canada by CUPE," Craig said. "Those people who have been underpaid according to comparable salaries in other municipalities in the area, we will back rate them to the first of January."

In addition, he said the city offered to increase salaries by two percent, but the union did not accept the offer.

Craig said he hopes the city can get back to the negotiating table as soon as possible.

"I recognize as mayor, and so does council, that this is an inconvenience in the community."

Ray Burigana, president of CUPE 32, said in a statement that union members also want negotiations to resume, and urged the city to make that possible "before this thing drags on."

He said the city had brought in workers to cover snow plowing and water services.

"I'd suggest that the city stop spending money to get other people to do our jobs and negotiate a fair contract so that we can resume all services," Burigana said in the release.

Arenas, pools closed

The following facilities are closed and services have been cancelled:

  • Galt Arena Gardens.
  • Dickson Centre.
  • Duncan McIntosh Centre.
  • Hespeler Arenas #1 and #2.
  • Karl Homuth Arena.
  • Preston Auditorium.
  • John Dolson Pool.
  • W. G. Johnson Pool (already closed due to construction).
  • Ed Newland Pool (already closed due to maintenance).
  • George Hancock Pool (already closed due to maintenance).
New rental requests will not be considered during the labour disruption. 

The closures mean minor hockey teams, adult recreation leagues, figure skating and other on-ice sports are scrambling to find places to play.

The Hespeler Minor Hockey Association wrote on its website that it's doing everything it can to try to relocate playoff games to rinks not owned by the city.

"All practices will be cancelled on a day to day basis," the league said. 

All games will be relocated "if possible, but there are also not guarantees of this happening at this time."

For the Cambridge Roadrunners Girls' Hockey Association, seven teams were unable to get in practices Thursday night.

The Cambridge Figure Skating Club has also said they are trying to find alternative ice for their programs if it's available and thanked people for their patience.