Talks break down between CUPE, City

CORNWALL – A strike by most of the city’s front line workers seems almost inevitable as the Canadian Union of Public Employees says talks broke down tonight (Tuesday).

The talks on trying to draw up new collective agreements involved outside workers with CUPE Local 234, library clerks with Local 3251-01, Cornwall-SDG Paramedic Services paramedics with Local 5734 and inside workers with Local 3251.

Statements from the CUPE national representative seem to suggest the employer – the City of Cornwall – walked away from the bargaining table.

“We remain available to bargain all day and night, Wednesday…we are willing to do the work necessary to get a fair deal, but we are not seeing a parallel willingness from the employer,” Alison Denis said.

“They need to be here talking with us to prevent a strike. We’re on the eve of a strike, and they’re not here.”

Keith Sandford, also a CUPE national representative, says, if a strike happens Thursday morning, “it will not be because we walked away as the deadline approached.

Around 400 full-time employees – outside workers, librarians and paramedics – are set to hit the picket line after 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Another 150 full-time Inside workers can strike after 12:01 a.m. on May 23.

The contracts with the city and the union groups expired at least two years ago.

Cornwall Human Resources Manager Geoff Clarke did not immediately respond to a request for comment.