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Locked out CUPE workers in northern Ont. receive support from other unions


Municipal workers in the Township of Black River-Matheson have been locked out by their employer for more than a month.

Friday they received some welcomed support from union members who travelled from other northern Ontario communities.

A busload of union members from North Bay and Temiskaming Shores arrived in Matheson to cheer on the 14 members of CUPE Local 1490 who have been on the picket line since Oct. 15.

Mayor Doug Bender said when the employees walked away from negotiations, the township felt the lockout was necessary to protect its equipment due to situations that have happened in the past.

However, local CUPE members told CTV News they want to negotiate and hope to get a call back to the table.

The locked-out employees, mostly maintenance workers, said the town has been pushing for a two-tier wage as part of the new contract since talks began in March.

“Essentially someone coming in would take them three and a half years to get to the max rate of that classification,” said Serge Bouchard, president of CUPE Local 1490.

“Whereas right now there’s a six-month probation and after a year they get to the top of that classification.”

Tom Pullman, one of the union members on the picket line said the group is still in good spirits.

“We’re here. We’re here to do what we need to do and we’re strong and we’re together,” he said.

“We’re getting lots of support, lots of community support so that definitely helps.”

Henri Giroux with the North Bay and District Labour Council said what is happening in Matheson could happen in communities right across Ontario.

“Employers are playing games with everybody and we believe if that they get away with this here they’re going to get away with this in other places,” said Giroux. Top Stories

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