Labour pains in Happy Valley-Goose Bay as town workers vote to strike

For the second time in two years, town workers in Happy Valley-Goose Bay are facing a picket line, in a dispute over wages.

Last contract signed in 2015 after month-long lockout

Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor Jamie Snook says the town wants to avoid a strike, but has to balance wage demands with the desire to keep taxes down. (CBC)

As the province heads into Labour Day weekend, there's labour strife looming in Labrador.

The 46 employees of the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay have voted to go on strike, the town council said in a news release Friday afternoon.

It's a dispute over wages, but neither side has said how far apart they are. The town said its last offer, made Aug. 26, was rejected.

Workers are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2019 and include labourers, maintenance workers, snow clearing crews and office staff.

Town workers spent a month on the picket line last winter after being locked out by their employer, and their union says hard feelings remain. (CBC)

Mayor Jamie Snook said in the news release that the council wants to avoid a labour disruption.

"We also have an obligation to the community to be fiscally responsible in offering a wage increase that is equitable for employees but that will not increase taxes," said Snook.

"Municipalities rely heavily on taxes as the main revenue source and a high increase in wages would cause the need to adjust the mil rate."

The bargaining unit signed its last contract, which included an 11.5 per cent wage hike, in Feb. 2015 after a month-long lockout. That collective agreement was retroactive for two years and expired last December.