CUPE-Cornwall conciliation talks this week; members were shielded from details in city offer, union spokesman says

Cornwall city workers with the Canadian Union of Public Employees demonstrate outside city hall on Monday, March 26, 2018. Both sides will be sitting down with a conciliator on Wednesday and Thursday. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The union representing city workers will have a conciliator at the table Wednesday and Thursday in its ongoing talks with the City of Cornwall.

Ahead of those meetings and in its biggest showing yet, scores of city workers with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) demonstrated outside city hall Monday night.

The workers cover inside and outside services as well as librarians, Glen-Stor-Dun Lodge workers and paramedics. Many have been without a contract since September 2016 while some others have been longer.

National CUPE representative Keith Sandford says there are still some issues that need to be resolved despite the wage freeze being already off the list.

“There’s a few things that need to go away. Some of their demands they need to back off on,” Sandford told Cornwall Newswatch.

Sandford said he couldn’t get into specifics because of the conciliation talks, which are going to try to address most of the locals. “We’re going to try to do as many as we can in the two days…two of them (locals) at least for sure…then we’ll book some more dates.”

But Sandford admitted that the membership may not have known entirely what the city is offering when this month’s strike vote took place, with over 90 per cent of members voting to strike to back contract demands.

“We don’t tell them (the union membership) too much about that (the city’s offer) because, we can’t, because of bargaining. They do know about a few roundabout scenarios as to what’s going on,” Sandford told CNW.

Sandford said he remains hopeful about the conciliation process. “We don’t necessarily want to go on strike but, I guess, if they push us that far then that’s where we’ll go.”