Oakville outside workers rally Monday in preparation of a Thursday morning strike

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Published October 31, 2023 at 5:11 pm

CUPE Local 136
CUPE Local workers at rally in Oakville Monday

Unionized outside workers at the Town of Oakville rallied Monday in support of a likely strike scheduled for Thursday morning.

The 267 outside workers and facility operators, represented by CUPE Local 136, have been without a contract since the spring and the union negotiating team has set a strike deadline of midnight Wednesday to reach a deal with the Town.

The Town, which brokered a new deal with its inside workers Friday – also represented by CUPE – has offered to go back to the table, but not until after the deadline passes Thursday.

The unionized workers were joined at the rally at Cross Avenue and Trafalgar Road by residents and labour allies, including the inside workers and CUPE Local 79, which represents inside and recreation workers in the City of Toronto.

CUPE Local 136 President Peter Knafelc said the rising cost of living and the Town’s failure to keep pace over the years is at the heart of the impasse, though there are other issues at play.

“The cost of housing, gas and groceries in Oakville has skyrocketed in recent years, and our wages haven’t come close to keeping up. As a result, the standard of living for town employees has been dropping year after year. It can’t continue,” he said “Oakville is one of the wealthiest communities in Canada. This is a municipality that can afford for its employees to keep up with inflation.”

The two sides are also at odds over restrictions on 12-hour shifts in winter operations that have “seriously compromised” employees’ work-life balance, Knafelc added.

“The Town wants to cut our health benefits and accept a scheduling system that means everybody is working on standby or on call every weekend. We have families. We have kids. We need to be able to make plans and be good parents, and the town won’t let that happen.”

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