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St. Clair Township workers ask for conciliation

(SARNIA) – A unit within OPSEU Local 123 representing workers with the Township of St. Clair has applied to the Ontario Labour Relations Board for conciliation in contract talks with the township.

The unit comprises some 65 full-time, part-time and seasonal workers. They include administrative and taxation office staff, general and food services staff, golf course and campground maintenance workers, and roads and water workers. About a third of the staff work seasonally.

The workers’ collective agreement expired on September 30. Following four days of talks, the employer and the union were able to agree upon non-monetary items. However, the employer was unwilling to entertain meaningful increases to wages.

The bargaining team is seeking parity with city staff at Lambton Public Health. The employer’s final offer was an increase of just 30 cents an hour. The lowest starting wage is currently just five cents above the minimum wage.

Local 123 President Denise Wade made it clear that the bargaining team would not budge from its position on wages and shift premiums. “All the other items negotiated were non-monetary or cost‑neutral,” she said. “The team had already withdrawn demands related to health benefits and standby pay. They would have been high-cost. In doing this, we intended to improve wages for all workers. We won’t retreat further from our position.”

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU, fully supports the bargaining team’s position. “A 30‑cent hike was an offer we had to refuse. The team took the high-cost items off the table to get an improved wage settlement. The employer’s final offer was an unfunny joke. If it takes a conciliator to get a square deal for these hardworking people, then so be it.”

For more information:

Lorri Foley
Staff Representative, OPSEU
1-800-268-7376, ext. 5100