City, CUPE will hold one month of bargaining

Members of five CUPE locals protest outside Cornwall city hall Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. A city representative says both sides will be sitting down to a month-long bargaining session, starting Oct. 31. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The Canadian Union of Public Employees and the City of Cornwall will start a marathon session of bargaining later this month.

Geoff Clarke, director of the city’s human resources department, told Cornwall Newswatch both sides have exchanged proposals and talks between the four groups will begin Oct. 31.

“We set up with CUPE pretty much the month of November to get into talks and sit down and do the more formal part of the process,” Clarke said.

“We do them in blocks. We’ll do one of the locals one week and (another) one of the locals the following week (and so on),” he explained.

Asked why the contracts were allowed to lapse so long, the HR manager said there were “several logistical things” that came into play.

“When it came due in the spring we were in the budget process and prior to that there were some logistical issues at the tail end of the year before and then, through this process, we’ve ended up at this point where we have to get together and play catch up,” he said.

The majority of the contracts expired at the end of September 2016. The collective agreement for Glen-Stor-Dun Lodge expired in March 2016 while the agreement for the Cornwall Public Library workers expired in December 2015.

The collective agreements affecting the most workers will be CUPE Local 3251, representing 152 full-time inside workers, CUPE Local 234 representing 85 full-time outside workers, CUPE Local 1792 for 59 full-time employees at Glen-Stor-Dun Lodge and CUPE Local 5734 with the 64 full-time paramedics with the Cornwall-SDG Paramedic Services.

Union members demonstrated outside city hall before the council meeting Tuesday night in their largest gathering to date.

CUPE plans to demonstrate ahead of every council meeting through the end of the year, with the last council meeting on Dec. 11.