Council to make 'gut-wrenching' choice on paying city staff who are not working amid pandemic
City says about 600 CUPE workers currently not working but are being paid
Windsor City Council is expected to make a "real tough choice" this week — likely Wednesday afternoon — on whether or not to continue paying city staff who have been sent home and are not working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"No one wants to be in this position," said Mayor Drew Dilkens.
According to his chief of staff Andrew Teliszewsky, there are about 600 workers, represented by CUPE Local 543 and CUPE Local 82 who are currently not working and are being paid.
"A lot of our revenues have dried up," Dilkens said, explaining that expenses are adding up as well. "This is a business decision as well."
Dilkens said that the city has a good relationship with the bargaining groups that represent workers, and that this will be a "gut-wrenching" decision because he works with these individuals every day.
Teliszewsky added that according to their collective agreement, CUPE normally doesn't allow workers with Local 543 to be deployed to Local 82 duties, and vice-versa, but that given the circumstances of the time, they've allowed staff members working at a facility that has closed to be re-deployed to another office that is still operational — wherever possible.
"They have been tremendous to deal with since the outset of this," he said.
Dilkens acknowledges this is not a "fair" situation but that council will effort to find a solution that's fair and reasonable for everyone, and is one that the tax payer can accept as well.
The city first decided to close its public facilities in the middle of March, and the closure was expected to continue until at least Monday, April 6.
Since then, about 100 to 120 employees have been able to work from home, and Teliszewsky said the city has been doing everything it can to equip as many people as possible with that ability.
Meanwhile, another 600 employees are still working in their regular work environments. About 60 per cent of them work at Huron Lodge and as social support workers.
At City Hall, 3-1-1 employees continue to operate the core function to provide social services for city residents.
Teliszewsky said employees are "going above and beyond, doing amazing work for the most vulnerable during this time."
City Hall 350 and 400 are at a 10 per cent occupancy right now.