Oakville municipal strike: Town accused of “not telling the truth” about negotiations

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Published October 27, 2023 at 10:27 am

Oakville Towne Square
Oakville Towne Square

There is no official update on a looming municipal strike from either the Town of Oakville or its unionized workers but CUPE Local 136 members will be at Towne Square this afternoon to hand out some Halloween treats and to have a ‘chat’ about the contract impasse that does not appear close to a resolution.

The Town and the union representing 285 outside workers and facility operators – the second largest bargaining unit in Oakville – have been negotiating a new contract since April.

The two sides met with a provincially appointed conciliation officer to help reach an agreement but a statement from the Town declared negotiations had “reached an impasse,” prompting a ‘No Board Report’ to be issued by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development on October 16.

A No Board Report is a formal notice that starts the clock on a 17-day period, after which either party can formally commence a legal labour disruption. With Local 136 members voting in favour of a strike October 12 by an overwhelming 97 per cent, the deadline to reach a settlement is Thursday morning.

The Town of Oakville’s bargaining team remains “hopeful” of a deal being reached but the union took a different stance, saying The Town walked away from the table October 3 and have not re-opened negotiations since.

“Our employer is not telling the truth. They are willfully using their power to deceive the workers and the citizens of the Town.”

Local 136 workers are getting support from the national body, with CUPE asking its members to “stand in solidarity” with Oakville’s unionized municipal employees.

“The outside workers of the Town of Oakville are facing unprecedented challenges from their employer,” a statement from CUPE declared, citing concessions that could “severely impact” the employee health plan by limiting it to generic drugs and proposed changes to working hours that are “detrimental” to the work force.

“The employer is also attempting to erase longstanding language from the collective agreement, especially in terms of recognizing public holidays. To make matters worse, wage proposals from the town do not align with prevailing trends in municipal collective agreements.”

The Town is on record that it won’t lock out employees and has plans in place to “limit the disruption” in the event of a strike.

Oakville CAO Jane Clohecy reached out to inhalton Friday morning and reaffirmed that the Town remains “committed” to reaching a fair and reasonable agreement that balances the needs of employees with its responsibilities to taxpayers.

“We value the contributions and support of our CUPE 136 employees and the excellent service they deliver to our community,” she said, adding that they are “willing to return to the table” and have “meaningful discussions” with the union.

“The Town does not want a strike and has no intention to lock out employees. However, we are prepared for a strike and the unfortunate impacts that it will have on our community…(but) we need both parties to return with a genuine commitment to bargain on the issues that have led to the impasse.”

Arenas and community centres, including pools, will be closed to the public if workers go on strike. All libraries, which operates on a separate contract (including those in municipal community centres), will remain open. Seasonal washrooms in town parks and leash-free dog parks) will be closed.

Other impacted areas and services include recreation and culture programs, as well as parks, roads and works operations.

Snow removal, as well as Garbage pick-up and recreational activities inside Town facilities, will be impacted in a municipal workers strike

Updates on the possible labour disruption and its impact will be shared through the Town of Oakville website as well as with the media. Residents are also encouraged to stay up to date by visiting the Town’s Labour Relations page.

The Local 136 meet-and-greet at Towne Square will happen from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with the union promising “All treats, no tricks.”

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