Nfld. & Labrador

Strike — or lockout — looms for Placentia municipal workers

Fourteen out of 15 employees were present for a vote, and they all voted in favour of a strike.

Mayor says previous contracts were problematic, as management was giving themselves same raises

The Placentia municipal workers include clerical staff, arena attendants, and others. (Philippe Grenier/CBC)

Workers with the Town of Placentia have voted 100 per cent in favour of strike, according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). 

Fourteen of the 15 members of CUPE 1761 were present for the vote on Wednesday. 

The employees work as clerical staff, arena attendants, maintenance operators, labourers and municipal enforcement officers.

The members are frustrated with what they see as unnecessary delays- Gerry Quilty, CUPE 1761 president

"Now that the membership has voted in favour of going on strike the workers could go out at any time, if necessary, or be locked out by their employer," says CUPE national representative Ed White.

Since negotiations began last May, 11 proposals have been exchanged, according to CUPE, 

In 2012 and again in 2015, the two sides exchanged four proposals and completed negotiations in 19 weeks or less, reads a media release issued Thursday.

"The members are frustrated with what they see as unnecessary delays by the employer," said CUPE 1761 president Gerry Quilty in the media release.

Town responds

Mayor Bernard Power responded late Thursday afternoon, sending a two-page letter to CBC News.

He said previous councils had been giving union employees raises of between 4.8 and 8.4 per cent annually for each of the nine years between 2009 and 2018. He said members of town management were handling the collective bargaining during that timeframe, and the new council found a potential conflict in the way they handled things.

Council did not initiate this labour dispute- Mayor Bernard Power

"Council was concerned that it had become standard practice to provide the same increases provided to union employees to all management, including those who negotiated collective agreements," Power wrote.

This time around, Power said they decided to hire consultants "with significant union negotiating experience" to handle the bargaining talks.

The talks eventually went to conciliation, and Power said the union did not respond to the town's last offer, and instead asked the conciliator to file its report, thus setting off a potential labour dispute.

"Council did not initiate this labour dispute and is prepared to return to the bargaining table to achieve a fair and reasonable agreement," Power wrote.

"The town will not provide increases in wages and benefits that will create additional costs to the residents and businesses of the Town of Placentia."

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