Thunder Bay

600 unionized carpenters on picket lines in Thunder Bay as province-wide strike continues

Spirits remain high on picket lines in Thunder Bay as a province-wide carpenters strike enters continues. Across Ontario, 15,000 unionized carpenters are on strike after contract negotiations failed to strike a deal.

City carpenters part of province-wide job action involving 15,000 people across Ontario

Carpenters in Thunder Bay walk a picket line on Tuesday afternoon. The carpenters are among about 15,000 in Ontario that are currently on strike. (Evan Reid/Provided)

Spirits remain high on picket lines in Thunder Bay, Ont., as a province-wide carpenters strike appears set to enter its fourth day. 

The strike began Monday, after the carpenters — represented by the Carpenter's District Council of Ontario — voted against ratifying a tentative agreement between the council and the Construction Labour Relations Association of Ontario.

The two sides have failed to reach an agreement over wage increases. 

"I believe that to be a reflection of the crisis of affordability that workers are facing every day in Ontario," said Mike Yorke, the council's president and director of public affairs and innovation.

"Everyone in this province is facing that," he said. "There's also the spiraling cost of inflation, spiraling cost of cost of living in the province. And every Ontarian's facing that, whether it's housing or rental housing, groceries to put food on the table, gasoline to get to work. And then when you get to work, the parking charges are $25-$30 a day."

"Add it all up and you have a challenge to ratifying an agreement, which is exactly what happened."

Yorke said the collective agreement covers all carpenters union locals in Ontario. More than 75 per cent of members voted against ratification.

Yorke said the council and association are meeting on Thursday, but he wasn't certain that meeting would result in further negotiations, or focus on procedures and protocols.

Mike Yorke is the President of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario. He says his members want a 'fair deal' as the province's carpenters' strike continues. (Tina MacKenzie/CBC)

So far, however, Yorke said spirits on picket lines in the province are high.

"There's an incredible amount of community support and other trade union support," he said. "On the other trade unions, they see that the carpenters are out there standing up for working people."

"And then the community support is very important as well, because carpenters put their time in on weekends," he said. "So we'll do Habitat for Humanity. We'll do Renos for Heroes, Canada's military veterans. We will do Helmets to Hardhats. We'll work with all kinds of community groups."

"I'm really pleased to see that that is getting recognition within the community."

Yorke said the Thunder Bay picket line is rotating, visiting different locations each day, with more than 600 carpenters in the city taking part in the strike.

CBC contacted the construction association for comment, but has yet to receive a response.

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