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Support Striking Canadian Municipal Workers Now!

Mar 21, 2024

Sign the petition calling on Black River-Matheson Mayor Bender and Township to return to the bargaining table and restore fair workplace relations with CUPE 1490 now.

From a local labour dispute to a nation-wide anti-union ban

PSI and CUPE are calling on all affiliates to show their support and solidarity with CUPE Local 1490 striking municipal workers by signing this petition to support the union’s asks to put an end to this unnecessary lingering conflict and restore labour rights, fair working conditions and quality public services in Black River-Matheson now.

Municipal workers Black River-Matheson, Canada

An incredibly disproportionate labour conflict is ongoing in Canada's Black River-Matheson, a 2,500 resident township in the state of Ontario. The Mayor of this small township has banned all of CUPE members and staff nationwide from three of its public premises. 

Residents are now facing a crisis as essential community services are suspended because of the Mayor’s refusal to go back to the negotiation table with Black River-Matheson municipal workers members of CUPE Local 1490, who have been forced on the picket line since 15 October 2023. 

The dispute started, when Black River-Matheson Mayor Doug Bendell and the township council locked out 14 workers and CUPE Local 1490  members without any warning to force a unilateral wage-cutting agenda on all new municipal staff hires. 

The lockout turned into a strike as of 22 January, 2024 as municipal workers resisted an average $2 CAD/hour wage cut and concessionary wage grid. CUPE Local 14900 has urged the Mayor to get back to the table to negotiate and bargain in good faith,yet the dispute has escalated and has now been ongoing for over 150 days. 

On 15 February 2024 the Township issued a trespass order banning the 14 striking CUPE municipal workers, and – even more shockingly - every single member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and all CUPE employees nationwide from three Black River-Matheson buildings, including the township hall, local hockey arena and a public worksite. 

The Council has also brought in contract labour, hired to replace the striking workers. Since the commencement of labour action, three CUPE Local 1490 members have been criminally charged for actions related to their participation in legal strike activities. 

The Mayor of Black-River Matheson has personally attended the picket line and intimidated them with threats that they should “start looking for [new work]” and that “we are going to starve you out”. This along with two striking members who were hit by Black River Matheson management’s vehicles while on the picket line. 

We believe that future generations should also enjoy good jobs and good public services

Sadly, the scenario mirrors a trend in the neighboring northern Ontario Cochrane community, reflecting attacks on public services and anti-union sentiments. The Mayor of Cochrane blamed workers themselves for inspiring violence with the use of the term “scab” after they had been threatened, and one member hit, by a piece of industrial machinery while on the picket line. 

 Striking workers say “We believe that future generations should also enjoy good jobs and good public services. We want to get back to our jobs, but we have been on the picket line since 15 October 2023 ”.  

CUPE is the largest trade union in Canada representing municipal staff across Canada, and a PSI affiliate. According to CUPE, this is one of the most far-reaching anti-union action the union has seen on a picket line in Canada. For CUPE this ban is an improper and indefensible attack on the constitutional right to picket and is challenging the township’s ban in Ontario’s Superior Court. 

CUPE has brought the conflict to the attention of PSI, whose General Secretary Daniel Bertossa wrote to Mayor Bender on 19 March 2024 demanding a swift, negotiated and fair resolution to this conflict. He also raised this case and requested the intervention of the Minister of Labour of Ontario David Piccini and of the Federal Minister of Labour of Canada Seamus O'Regan.

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Show your support

PSI and CUPE are now calling on all affiliates to show their support and solidarity with CUPE Local 1490 municipal workers by signing this petition to support the union’s asks to put an end to this unnecessary lingering conflict and restore labour rights, fair working conditions and quality public services in Black River-Matheson now.

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    18 days ago
  • Serge Gaetan BouchardCupe local 1490 Canada
    18 days ago
  • Lisa Marion Canada
    18 days ago
  • Suzanne LefebvreCUPE Canada
    18 days ago
  • Anonymous signature
    18 days ago
  • Darren Church Canada
    18 days ago
  • Jo-Ann BretonCUPE Canada
    18 days ago
  • Shelly ChurchTemiskaming Hospital Canada
    18 days ago
  • Aisha BahadurPublic Services International South Africa
    18 days ago
  • Anonymous signature
    18 days ago
  • Sabina KimKPTU South Korea
    18 days ago
  • JEONGSOO PARKKPTU South Korea
    18 days ago
  • SungHee OhKPTU South Korea
    18 days ago
  • Anonymous signature
    19 days ago
  • Tchere Adoum HadjiSyndicat national des agents des communes du Tchad Chad
    19 days ago
  • Anonymous signature
    19 days ago
  • Richy Carrothers Fórsa Ireland
    19 days ago
  • LawrenceSAMWU South Africa
    19 days ago
  • Declan InghamCUPE Canada
    19 days ago
  • Ramiro Amaya Gonzalez SIDEYTMS Honduras
    19 days ago
  • Wilson AlvarezFETMYP Ecuador
    19 days ago
  • Wilson AlvarezFederación Ecuatoriana de Trabajadores Municipales y Provinciales FETMYP Ecuador
    19 days ago
  • Santiago Baudino FASEMP, FEDERACIÓN DE LA AGRUPACIÓN DE SINDICATOS DE EMPLEADOS MUNICIPALES PATAGONICOS Argentina
    19 days ago
  • Euan GibbPublic Services International Brazil
    19 days ago
  • Anonymous signature
    19 days ago
  • Mirtha Arias NoguerSitrama Paraguay
    19 days ago
  • SungHee Oh KPTU South Korea
    19 days ago
  • Jennifer Besong NULGE Nigeria
    19 days ago
  • Jan WindeFNV Netherlands
    19 days ago
  • Hassan Lwabayi Mudiba Uganda local government workers union Uganda
    19 days ago
  • Marty LarocqueCity of Greater Sudbury Canada
    20 days ago
  • Anonymous signature
    21 days ago
  • Ed Canada
    21 days ago
  • Tamara Frooman Canada
    21 days ago
  • AshleyCUPE 70 Canada
    21 days ago
  • Joe Boughner Canada
    22 days ago
  • Alexandra Pinosa Canada
    22 days ago
  • ED Adamsn/a Canada
    22 days ago
  • Rebeca Céspedes ANEP Costa Rica
    22 days ago
  • Anonymous signature
    23 days ago
  • Tammy Robinson CUPE Canada
    23 days ago
  • Daniel Tseghay Canada
    23 days ago
See full list

The lingering industrial dispute is negatively affecting local public service users

This anti-union sentiment is not only damaging the workers who deliver essential local quality public services, but has left the community  struggling as striking workers are banned from their workplaces and replaced by non-union contract workers brought in to break their lawful labour action. 

Cars and school buses are struggling to manage without adequate plowing services and individuals with mobility issues and struggling to access basic services through snow-laden sidewalks. In one community, power surges have impacted the community water plant and left residents boiling water to ensure it’s safe to drink. As spring approaches, road maintenance, flood prevention, cemetery burials, park and landfill maintenance will be affected. 

Citizens have called the municipal council to find out about the labour dispute and asking the Township to restore good service. Rather than respond to these concerns, the township council has suspended public meetings and refuses to answer questions from concerned residents who try to contact their town hall. 

Now is the time to stop the escalation: go back to the negotiation table, agree on a fair deal 

This escalation is benefitting none. With its confrontational attitude, the municipal employer is infringing basic labour and human rights that are guaranteed at a provincial, national, and international level. This alarming lack of respect for public sector workers and disregard for their fundamental labour and human rights must stop and infringement upon Charter rights to strike and freedom of association must be protected. Municipal workers are essential in keeping local residents safe and healthy and communities functional and accessible. 

CUPE and PSI call for a swift resolution to restore vital services and denounce this attack on workers who provide key local public services. PSI has sent a letter to the Mayor as well as to the Ministers of Labour of Ontario and of Canada federal government in support of CUPE Local 1490 municipal workers calling for good-faith negotiations to resume. 

PSI asked Canadian local, state and federal labour authorities that the dispute comes to a peaceful settlement by:

  • lifting the trespass notice, swiftly restoring all CUPE members’ and representatives’ full access to the three municipal locations

  • ending  the hiring  of scab contract labour

  • ending the heavy-handed escalation in your treatment of  striking workers and removing all charges

  • not encouraging return to work conditional on the acceptance of your unilaterally set conditions that makes numerous key protections in the previous collective agreement null and void

  • re-opening good faith dialogue and collective bargaining with CUPE Local 1490 to rapidly find a mutually agreed resolution to the dispute and reach a new collective bargaining agreement, in line with Canadian international obligations to international labour and human rights

  • committing to restoring a fair, constructive environment for all, ensuring that there will be no retaliation for striking workers and their families at the workplace and in the community for the exercise of their fundamental labour rights.

CUPE Local 1490 continues to stand strong and is advocating for a swift resolution that involves returning to the bargaining table, removing the concession and reinstating it provision of vital services to the community. But to do so, these brave municipal workers and union leaders need the support of all LRG/Municipal unions worldwide.

Video

CUPE1490 picket line

PSI and CUPE are now calling on all affiliates to show their support and solidarity with CUPE Local 1490 municipal workers by signing this petition to support the union’s asks to put an end to this unnecessary lingering conflict and restore labour rights, fair working conditions and quality public services in Black River-Matheson now.

PSI and CUPE especially call on all PSI affiliates representing LRG/municipal workers worldwide and members of the PSI Global LRG/Municipal Union Network.

Tell council to end the lockout

The 14 municipal workers of Black River-Matheson are proud to deliver important public services to the residents of their community.

Find out more

Act now

Sign the petition (425)

Contact campaign organisers

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