Attempts by OPSEU Local 328 to bargain a new contract with the Town of Midland have failed. Members includes outside workers, parks and recreation staff and operators at the waste water plant. Support has been voiced by Local 329 which includes the correctional workers who fought the Province for the right to binding arbitration to settle their grievances in the last contract. In tweets by @opseulocal329 they state that “our 1200+ members stand in solidarity with Town of Midland workers. Shame on council for marching them towards a strike!”
The local worker’s last contract almost ended in a strike as well. Seems the Town is content with repeating history, yet again.
Our sources claim that the Town of Midland’s bargaining committee has been inflexible and is letting a difference of only 0.5% stand between a deal and labour strife. In addition to the wage issues, the Town wants to claw back dental and drug benefits that would see our local workers treated unfairly when compared to their counterparts in neighbouring municipalities (this sounds just like what we reported about the Town’s bargaining with the town police). In addition, they want the raises to kick in at the end of the year instead of in January – a further insult to the labourers.
The workers say they were even willing to forgo retroactive pay if a deal could be reached but the Town is digging in their feet and refusing to bargain fairly with the labour negotiators.
Our sources say that the union workers were simply asking for 1.5% for a three-year deal and that the Town was only willing to offer ZERO, 1% and 1% -and- wanted to claw back what few benefits our labourers have always had. “We are only trying to support our families and many of us have kids” says the source. “Taking away or slashing our benefits is an insult when combined with low wages”. Council had the opportunity to give up their generous benefits as an act of good faith more than a year ago and chose not to. The Councillors are the only “part time” members of the Town of Midland who collect benefits.
Watch for an information night, likely to be held at the NSSRC (Sports and Rec Centre) in the near future where you can learn more about what the labourers do for the Town of Midland and why they feel the Town is being unfair, trying to hang their financial woes on the backs of the lowest-paid and hardest working staff that keep the town running.
Midland Council voted themselves a 1% raise shortly after taking office while demanding all departments come in at zero percent. The 1% raise also went to the non-unionized managers. Another deal was settled with the office staff who chose to join the IBEW instead of OPSEU.
A strike by the town’s labour force is not good for Midland and it is disheartening that the Town of Midland is choosing to take the gamble that these workers cannot afford to strike heading into the holiday season. Perhaps the cold nights have brought the grinch to Town Hall a little early this year.