Possible strike or lockout for Happy Valley-Goose Bay workers, says town

The town is warning residents that community events may be cancelled and recreation faciltiies closed as early as Saturday if a deal isn't reached with its CUPE workers.
The town warns of a strike or lockout happening as early as Saturday. (Submitted by Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay)

The Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay is warning residents of potential service disruptions, as a strike or lockout for its town workers could come as early as Saturday.

In a release, the town said it started labour negotiations with its CUPE workers in the fall of 2015, but no deal was reached before the union's contract expired at the end of the year. The two sides have been in and out of talks ever since. 

"Negotiations have stalled right now," CUPE Local 2019 President Glenn Pittman told CBC News, declining to specify what the sticking points may be. The town has stated wages is the outstanding issue.

A cooling-off period to the talks is set to expire on July 16, which will allow the town to legally lockout its workers, or the workers to legally strike.

No one wins, let's put it that way, if there's a lockout or a strike.- Glenn Pittman

Pittman said the union will not hold a strike vote that day,  and hopes to return to the negotiating table on Monday, July 18.

"I think this is just a part of the process. I think in time we will end up with a deal," he said.

Town services on hold

If there was a work disruption, the town said all municipal events would be cancelled, and that the arena, MMC Sports Complex, and Kinsmen Park would close.

Commercial and public access to the landfill would also be off limits, but there is a contingency plan in place to continue with essential needs such as fire and water services.

In a statement to CBC, the town said it would not comment further to media on the matter, as it respects the bargaining process.

'Hard feelings' from last lockout

Pittman said many union workers still feel the sting of last year's lockout, which lasted for several weeks starting in early 2015 when contract talks broke down.

​"The lockout is so fresh in the mind still that we don't want this to happen again," he said, adding that experience left workers with "a lot of hard feelings."

Pittman said he's hopeful a deal can be reached without repeating the labour disruption of the past.

"No one wins, let's put it that way, if there's a lockout or a strike. And I hate to see that put on this town again."