It’s become an accustomed sight for drivers along a busy south Edmonton road. Over two dozen Edmonton workers were locked out at the start of the summer — but have now been out picketing for months.
“We’ve been out here since June 28, they replaced us within in a week and they haven’t missed a beat,” picketer and union member of Boilermakers Lodge 146 Jeff Burns said.
Burns says he and more than 30 unionized employees were locked out of Edmonton-based CESSCO Fabrication and Engineering after not being able to come to an agreement over pay and pensions.
They’ve been out picketing on the side of the road on 99 Street and 73 Avenue ever since.
Burns said accepting the company offer would have essentially been a step backwards.
“[The offer was] a 10 per cent wage roll back, and a massive rollback to our pensions and an attack against our seniority rights,” Burns said.
Unacceptable changes he says that have now put him and others out of work.
But efforts on the picket line aren’t without the added support of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
“It’s troubling because there are dozens of families who are without income during a time of recession, so losing your job and being without income is tough at the best of times,: Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “It’s particularly bad when the economy is bad and you have few options.”
“It’s difficult, moral has its moments, we have good days and bad days but were plugging through this as best as we can,” Burns said.
Burns added at this point, they’ve asked for a previous agreement from 2018 to be extended for 18 months, but so far that request has not been accepted.
“It feels like we’re not going back in there anytime soon,” Burns said.
“We’re not even negotiating. We haven’t sat down at the table since the beginning of August.”
Global News reached out to CESSCO for comment but has not yet received a response. As for Burns and the others on the line, they say there are no plans to stop picketing.