City strike begins with three CUPE locals

(Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – Picket lines are going up this morning at various city locations as more than 230 employees walked off the job just after midnight.

CUPE and the City of Cornwall failed to reach an agreement after months of negotiations with four local groups.

Paramedics, library workers and outside workers are now on the picket line. Inside workers will have to cross the picket line as they won’t be off the job until May 23 at 12:01 a.m.

Around two dozen picketers started at the municipal works building on Ontario Street before 6 a.m.

The union accuses the city of walking way from bargaining while the city says the union “refused” to take its final offer to the membership for a vote.

In a release this morning (Thursday), CUPE national representative Alison Denis says the final offer from the city still contained “all the same problems” that prompted a strike vote in the first place.

“It certainly didn’t need to come to this,” CUPE Local 5734 president Amanda Palieps said.

The union says the main issues are concessions and wages.

Workers have been without a contract since 2016 and, in the case of the library, 2015.

As for the strike, paramedics are limited in the numbers of members who can be on the picket line because they are a limited essential service. Three cars will be rolling throughout SD&G instead of the regular number of nine.