Nfld. & Labrador

Mount Pearl's strike is cancelling kids' sports, and parents are frustrated with both sides

Parents in Mount Pearl are frustrated over the cancellations of youth sports as unionized city workers remain on strike due to what it says are inferior benefits for new employees.   

Union president says residents should call council, force both sides back to bargaining table

Ken Turner, president of CUPE local 2099, standing in front of Mount Pearl city hall.
Ken Turner, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2099, says there had been no further discussions between his members and the City of Mount Pearl as of Monday. City workers voted to strike last week. (Mike Moore/CBC)

Parents in Mount Pearl are frustrated over the cancellations of youth sports as unionized city workers remain on strike due to what it says are inferior benefits for new employees.   

City staff voted 92 per cent in favour of strike action on Wednesday. They've been on picket lines since Thursday morning. 

Ken Turner, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2099, said Monday there have been no further discussions between his members and the city.

On Monday CUPE members were out in force on the line at the city's depot in Donovans Industrial Park. The picket lines' primary target of has been city hall but have also shifted to baseball diamonds and soccer fields, causing disruptions for organizations running youth sport programs. 

"Our workers do the work of the city, at all of our city facilities and all of our recreational facilities," Turner said. "It's a time of year when people want to get back to their normal activities and that's just not happening right now."

Irritated parents took to social media over the weekend to voice their displeasure over the rift between the city and it's unionized employees. Others chimed in with support for the workers.

CUPE local 2099 members picketing in front of the Mount Pearl city depot.
Members of Local 2099 were on the picket line in front of Mount Pearl's city depot in Donovans Industrial Park on Monday. (Mike Moore/CBC)

Turner said the city knew full well before his members went on strike that recreational facilities would be targeted with legal picket lines as they're part of his members' responsibilities. 

"Right now, we're out on the street while we have managers out doing the work of the bargaining unit and of course we can't have that," he said.

"We understand the concerns of parents. The folks that work here at the City of Mount Pearl are parents themselves, they are from Mount Pearl, their children have been affected by this as well. We've spoke with organizers of all the sporting committees and we've received good support from them."

Impacting the kids

Monday morning was warm and sunny and the city's skate park off Smallwood Drive was busy with kids enjoying their summer holidays. 

Resident Nick Lawlor and his son Noah were there on their bicycles, rolling through the smooth concrete bowls and ramps of one of the city's crown jewels in terms of recreation. 

Lawlor said the ongoing strike shouldn't impact the kids the way it has already, by forcing the cancellations of baseball, soccer and the closure of the city's swimming pool. 

"Regardless of what politics is on the go, I don't think it should affect the children," he said. 

"Especially during the summer time. They're looking forward to all the sports and stuff and it creates some structure in their lives during the summer. It shouldn't have anything to do with the kids."

Noah and Nick Lawlor at a skate park in Mount Pearl on a sunny Monday morning.
Nick Lawlor, right, says the ongoing spat between Mount Pearl and its unionized workers shouldn't have the impact that it's having on kids, as youth sports have been cancelled due to the strike. (Mike Moore/CBC)

Some residents commented in a Mount Pearl community Facebook group that workers had been picketing the skate park over the weekend, not allowing people to use it while the strike continues. 

Turner said that's not the case at all. He said the picket line in the area was focused on the nearby baseball field and soccer pitch. 

"We did not obstruct the skate park kids from going into the skate park. As a matter of fact it's open right now," Turner said.

"We've seen the social media posts. We're upset by it as well. We've instructed our picket line captains and our picket folks to be as respectful as possible, to be safe and absolutely take care of themselves and take care of the residents and try to do the best they can."

Turner said he hopes to get back to the bargaining table with the city as soon as possible. 

He said he knows residents are frustrated but has one piece of advice: "We understand that tempers can flare and we know that tensions are high. We know what we're coming out of and lets all just be safe and try to get this done together," he said. 

"Folks can call council and put a stop to this."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Moore

Journalist

Mike Moore is a journalist who works with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's. He can be reached by email at mike.moore@cbc.ca.

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