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Disruption avoided as workers ratify deal with Town of Midland

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Midland – Members of Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Local 328, representing outside workers with the Town of Midland, have ratified a tentative agreement reached last week.

Negotiations began in June but stalled last month. At the union’s request, the Ministry of Labour issued a “no board” report, thereby triggering a 17-day countdown to a strike. However, last-minute mediation avoided a labour disruption.

“This is a victory for common decency,” said Dave Tremblay, OPSEU Local 328 bargaining team chair, who said solidarity and a thirst for fairness were key to getting a settlement. “The bargaining team had the unreserved backing of the members. When you’ve got that kind of support, miracles can happen. And it almost took a miracle to get the town off its high horse and back to the table.”

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said Midland council seems to have a taste for brinkmanship, noting that workers had to resort to a strike mandate in 2014 to get the town to bargain seriously.

“Council played the same silly games during the last round of negotiations,” he said.” I think these councillors wanted to look like ‘good fiscal managers’ by slapping a wage freeze on staff. But that didn’t stop them from rewarding themselves with a raise right after their election.

“This time, outside workers were bending over backwards to get a deal,” said Thomas. “And while councillors are the only part-time town workers with benefits, they tried to rob full-time workers of their drug and dental benefits.

“Thankfully, pressure from residents, and OPSEU Local 329, helped council see the light. Let’s hope they don’t put workers through the wringer again in three years’ time. It’s bad for all concerned.”

Local 328 represents the town’s parks and recreation, operations (roads), and water and wastewater staff.

For more information: Dave Tremblay, 705-528-3816