They respond in times of need, make sure the roads and sidewalks are clear and process your tax bills and payments.
They are government workers and all 2,500 of them across New Brunswick are banding together.
They’re attempting to push back against the municipalities they work for who are lobbying for “Ability to Pay” legislation in the province, which would limit the freedom of an arbitrator.
“If we lose that, there’s no more free negotiations,” explains Marc Dioron, the president of the New Brunswick Municipal Workers Committee.
“It’s like, ‘this is it this is what we give you, and this is what you have to take,’ because we won’t have binding arbitration.”
Currently, all contracts are settled through binding arbitration, which eliminates workers’ ability to strike and doesn’t allow the employer the ability to lock out workers.
“The fact that they want to put restrictions on arbitration just gives an upper hand to the employer as opposed to the employees,” adds Kevin Smallwood, a financial officer with the committee.
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But the Cities of New Brunswick Association, which represents eight cities in the province and is headed up by municipal leaders, is looking to change that process and is calling for a review of the provincial arbitration legislation.
“We 100 per cent support an arbitration process, so what we’re really just asking for is a conversation about the ability to pay — to be in some way incorporated into the process,” explains Adam Lordon, the president of the Cities of New Brunswick Association.
In addition to a wider look at the arbitration process, the association is looking to government to reform the property tax system and address just how tax dollars are distributed.
“What we’ve seen over the years is more and more downloading of service delivery from other levels of government without funds to execute those services, and so we are in a broad sense continuing to call for a number of municipal reforms,” adds Lordon.