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CUPE to oppose Black River-Matheson trespassing notice in court

Plans for more than a dozen union workers from Toronto to rally in northern Ontario prompted Black River-Matheson council to cancel its meeting. (File) Plans for more than a dozen union workers from Toronto to rally in northern Ontario prompted Black River-Matheson council to cancel its meeting. (File)
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The bitter strike in Black River-Matheson appears to be headed for court after the town issued no trespass notices to strikers barring them from municipal property.

In a news release Wednesday, CUPE said the township issued the trespass notice Feb. 15, excluding the 14 striking members of CUPE Local 1490 from three municipal locations.

“Additionally, and very concerningly according to the union, the notice also excludes ‘members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees’ and “employees from the Canadian Union of Public Employees,’” the union said in the release.

“We got our legal advice and we’ve already made the decision that CUPE will challenge this improper and indefensible move; challenge the trespass notice by supplementing our existing Unfair Labour Practice complaint; and we intend to challenge the notice before the Superior Court,” Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario, is quoted as saying in the release.

“Local 1490 knows we have their back, and this township will know that what they’re doing won’t stand.”

CTV News contacted Black river-Matheson officials get their response, but have not received a reply.

The workers were locked out in October 2023 due to a labour dispute that became a strike last month when the municipality ended the lockout.

Lockouts occur when an employer prevents workers from accessing the worksite and suspends wages in an attempt to accept certain terms.

The union rejected a recent offer of a 14 per cent wage increase over four years, claiming that the town wants to create a two-tier wage system with new hires receiving lower wages and less job security.

Two managers working for Black River-Matheson have been charged with harassment and assault, among other offences, in incidents related to the labour dispute.

A Feb. 13 council meeting was cancelled after a CUPE delegation from southern Ontario planned to attend. The meeting was cancelled because of safety concerns, officials said.

--Files from Brooklyn Connolly

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