Striking outside workers in Oakville ratify agreement


Published November 13, 2023 at 8:15 am

oakville community centre

Oakville striking outside workers and facility operators are back to work this morning – some were back at it Sunday – after CUPE Local 136 members ratified a tentative agreement reached early Friday morning.

“WE HAVE A NEW COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT!” was the message (all in caps) from the union after the 267 workers in Local 136 gave the agreement the thumbs up.

“We look forward to reinstating services that the residents living in Oakville deserve and we’re looking forward to delivering service levels that are second to none in the municipal sector. We thank the public for their patience in the matter,” said CUPE Local 136 President Peter Knafelc.

The Town of Oakville Twitter echoed those sentiments on social media. “Welcome back! was their message to the workers, who were on the picket lines for eight days, shutting down hockey games and yoga classes and postponing everything from swim and dance lessons to exercise classes. “Our community centres and arenas will reopen on Monday, November 13.”

Oakville councillor Jeff Knoll noted before Saturday’s union ratification vote that while a yes by the union allows the re-opening of shuttered town hockey rinks and park washrooms, the agreement is not official until Council votes on the deal, likely at the November 20 meeting.

Community centres and arenas and loose leaf collection will resume full service on Monday while leash-free dog parks and park washrooms opened Sunday.

Details on the agreement have not yet been revealed but the two sides were “not far apart,” in the words of Knafelc, when Oakville CAO Jane Clohecy publicly released details of the Town’s offer last week, which included a 12.75 per cent pay increase over four years, which she said “matches or exceeds any other comparable municipal outside worker offer in Ontario.”

Other incentives offered are a $750 lump sum payment in 2023; a new healthcare spending account benefit to complement the existing medical, drug, vision, and dental benefits plan; a “significantly improved” vacation package; the addition of a new compassionate care leave salary top-up benefit; and bump-ups to meal allowance, tool allowance, shift premiums, and medical note reimbursements.

There were still outstanding issues related to maintaining the current use of temporary employees in Recreation and Culture, 12-hour shifts for winter operations and the pay structure for skilled trades hires but those issues were ironed out in the marathon bargaining session that ended with the tentative agreement in the wee hours of Friday morning.

The percentage of yes votes at Saturday’s ratification of the deal by the union has not yet been released.

The deal came a day before workers with CUPE Local 53 Full Time in Whitby reached a tentative agreement after nearly a month on the picket lines.

The three-year agreement between the Town of Whitby and 300 Local 53 workers, the result of eight monthes of collective bargaining, still has to be ratifed by both parties.

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