Workers for the Town of Midland have handed their bargaining team a strong strike mandate in a bid to get stalled contract talks back on track.
“Our members are clearly unhappy with the position taken by members of town council in our negotiations,” said Garry Hamelin, chair of the bargaining team for Local 328 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). “We never negotiate for the purpose of walking off the job but my members are frustrated with council and want to see some action at the table.”
Despite voting for strike action if necessary, no date has been set for a walkout and Hamelin said he and his bargaining team, which represent 60 unionized town employees, are eager to return to the contract table.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said his union would throw its energy and resources behind a walkout if it becomes necessary.
“A deal could be wrapped up in short order if the town rolled up its sleeves and bargained seriously,” he said. “In the meantime we have to begin to prepare for any eventuality.”
In June town council rejected a tentative two-year deal. It would have delivered a zero per cent wage increase in the first year and two per cent payable in the second, with half the increase in January and the second increase in June.
Both sides met with a conciliator last week in an effort to get contract talks going again. No further talks are scheduled.
Local 328 include outside workers, parks and recreation staff and operators at the waste water plant. Their previous contract with the town expired on Dec. 31, 2013.
Chair, Bargaining Team