Approaching deadline means 3,000 City of Hamilton workers could strike soon

No strike vote has been taken yet, but more than 3,200 city workers in Hamilton will be in a legal strike position August 21, 2023 after a 'no board' report was by the Minstry ofLlabour. Global News

Editors note: A correction has been made in the latter half of this post regarding the results of a CUPE members survey mentioned. The original version of this post said 95.3 per cent of members considered a pay increase “priority one” during negotiations. However, that number was actually the outcome of the strike vote.  

Wages are the primary stumbling block in labour negotiations that could put more than 3,200 Hamilton, Ont., city workers in a legal strike position in less than two weeks.

A “no board” report issued by the Minister of Labour late last week means the clock is ticking on a potential strike or lockout which could affect things like parks and road maintenance, arena and pool operations, as well as garbage pickup in the lower city.

Workers will be in a legal strike position on Aug. 21st and the union that represents them, CUPE Local 5167, says if the city doesn’t come back with a “real offer,” they’ll walk.

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“To add insult to injury, we’ve come to learn that the city has increased wages for managers and non-union staff at a much higher rate than what our members are asking for,” 5167 president Jay Hunter said.

“Clearly there’s money available to pay staff.”

Hunter suggests non-union management workers were given between eight and 15 per cent more in recent times.

In June, a CUPE survey revealed members considered a pay increase “priority one” during negotiations, suggesting they’ve been taking “subpar collective increases” in recent years.

The union, which represents seven city units, also contests staffers are overworked amid a continuing lack of staff brought on by the pandemic.

Hunter said he hoped an increase be “something in the neighborhood of the rate of inflation.”

A vote in the spring saw 95.3 per cent of members voting in favour of a strike.

Employees have been out of contact since the expiration of their last deal on Dec. 31, 2022.

After filing for third-party conciliation in mid-May, negotiators went back to the bargaining table this summer.

In the event of a strike, work tied to public safety like water testing and DARTS transports, along with some staff in long-term care homes, are not expected to be affected.

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A city of Hamilton spokesperson said the city “remains committed” to working with the CUPE’s negotiating team to reach a negotiated collective agreement and to avoid a labour disruption.

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