Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

February 28, 2014 16:01 ET

Bonfield Labour Board hearings to last well into August

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 28, 2014) - Any hope of quickly moving to the bargaining table to settle Bonfield's seven-month old dispute between the town's elected officials and its municipal employees faded yesterday when a series of labour hearings were scheduled to run well past the strike's one year mark.

Running from early June until late August, the 10 days of hearings will be held in North Bay. At issue are bad faith bargaining claims and the terminations of 5 Bonfield municipal employees.

The Labour Board meeting, held in the Board's Toronto offices on February 27, 2014, was originally intended to review all of the issues at hand but, in the end, focused only on procedural matters.

"The employer was told in October to come prepared to address all of the issues but elected not to do so, which raised a number of preliminary matters," said CUPE Legal Representative Mona Staples. "Ultimately the union was successful in having the bargaining in bad faith and termination cases consolidated into one case, which will help speed up proceedings."

"The Mayor's refusal to discuss and negotiate is typical," said Staples. "While CUPE has always been prepared to sit down and negotiate, make sacrifices and compromises, the Mayor has turned his back. We wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for his shutting down any discussion or negotiation."

"The employer refuses to remove demands for cuts to vacation, sick leave, and other benefits even though they have admitted that there is no financial basis for the cuts and that they can afford the current contract," added Staples.

"In addition, they made demands that the union is completely unable to meet for reasons beyond the local's control, which the Mayor has been made aware of," said Staples.

"The Mayor's position is 'take it or leave it, that's my offer.' And when the union predictably leaves it, he says 'see, the union is walking away'. This is not how bargaining is done in this province, he is not making a good faith effort to reach an agreement," said Staples.

The Mayor and Council's refusal to negotiate a fair contract means options are quickly running out for residents who want their township up and running again.

Bonfield residents are now looking at another six months of diminished services and another half-year of a dysfunctional town hall that spends money with no accountability or transparency.

"It doesn't have to be this way," said CUPE National Representative Stephen Boyle, who attended yesterday's hearing.

"Residents don't have to sit idly by and watch their township wither away. They can help bring an end to the impasse by asking for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to intervene," he added.

Last week CUPE representatives did just that. They alerted Minister Linda Jeffrey of the Mayor's and Council members' failure to comply with the Municipal Act. Of the many issues raised that got the Minister's attention, untendered contracts and lack of regular public Council meetings were noted as concerns.

Residents are encouraged to contact the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to share their concerns and to urge her intervention.

Honourable Linda Jeffrey
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
17th Floor
777 Bay Street
Toronto, ON
M5G 2E5
416-585-7000
905-495-8030
ljeffrey.mpp@liberal.ola.org

Contact Information

  • Steve Boyle
    CUPE National Representative
    705-662-5975

    Mario Emond
    CUPE Communications
    613-237-9475