Wellesley has reached a deal with its outside workers that provides for raises of 1.9 per cent annually over a four year term.
The new contract with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1542 is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021. The previous deal had expired on Dec. 31, 2020. The union represents a dozen employees in the recreation and public works departments.
Now ratified by both sides, the deal came after a protracted battle that saw members back a strike mandate and the union fight back against concessions demanded by the township. CUPE also took issue with Wellesley’s hiring of labour consultant Ken Godevenos, noting his “long record of sexist, racist, anti-union, Islamophobic and anti-LGBTQ posts on his Twitter account, alongside an ongoing stream of COVID vaccine disinformation.”
Negotiations ended up taking a year and included calling in a provincial conciliator in September.
“It’s definitely been tough. The 5th of February of 2021 is when we started, so it went for pretty well a full year,” said CUPE Local 1542 president Chris Roth of the negotiation process. “I just want to make it fairly clear that we’re happy to have a settlement and a deal, but not very happy with how it went.”
Roth said many of the concessions were removed from the table, but new work schedules – 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. instead of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. – will be disruptive to the lives of the workers.
“We were certainly able to fight off all the concessions, but we weren’t able to make very many gains. Unfortunately, they’ve been put into an awkward shift schedule or, like the winter shift schedule that the municipality feels will save them in overtime and whatnot, but it really affects our members’ home life and work-life balance,” he said.
“It’s not necessarily the best for our members, but we were able to work it out and get to a point where at least we could get a deal out of it.”
The deal was approved last week by Wellesley council, with chief administrative officer Rik Louwagie calling it fair.
“The township believes this is a fair settlement for both parties and is pleased that the agreement has been reached,” he said in an email.
CUPE 1542 is currently negotiating a contract with Woolwich Township, with talks in the early stages. The current contract expired on December 31.
“They are very cordial. Negotiations been going fairly well so far,” said Roth.
Woolwich chief administrative officer David Brenneman said “talks are going well so far” following the first few meetings.