Belleville workers protest at city hall ahead of union and city meeting with mediator

The union representing about 200 Belleville city workers is meant to be speaking with city officials Thursday to try to avoid a strike. Global News

Belleville city workers are inching closer to a strike.

Wednesday evening, unionized municipal workers, such as snowplow operators and City Hall employees, held a socially distanced rally outside Belleville City Hall, demanding a new contract with the city.

On the same day of the rally, it was announced the city and the union will meet with a provincially appointed mediator Thursday ahead of a possible legal strike or lockout on Monday.

“We kept working from day one. We’ve been here to keep the city safe and operational. There was no work stoppage of any sort,” said Marc Goulet, the CUPE Local 907 president.

Read more: Belleville city workers prepare for possible strike, lockout: union

According to the union, the demonstration outside of City Hall was an attempt to get the attention of Mayor Mitch Panciuk and Belleville city councilors.

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For a previous story, CUPE told Global News that management had previously agreed to a number of issues in bargaining, but the union says the city recently removed them from the table.

The union did not specify what those items were, nor did it want to comment further due to ongoing negotiations.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Panciuk told Global News that the pandemic has not only posed a threat to the health and well-being of the community but also to the city’s financial situation.

“We haven’t asked them for pay cuts. We haven’t asked them for a reduction in benefits. We’re prepared to offer job security. We’re just able to under this stressful time,” Panciuk said.

“We can’t offer what they see as a salary increase, and I’m confident that we will find a deal at the end of the day.”

— with files from Global News’ Alexandra Mazur


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