Day 40 of Cochrane CUPE strike: Local mother speaks out

On day 40 of the Cochrane CUPE strike, a local mother is speaking out.

Adrienne Nye, a soon-to-be mother of two, said her son was in childcare prior to the strike and is now unable to go.

“I'm 38 weeks pregnant so I had him in childcare so I could get organized and rest. My partner works away at a camp job, so for us, it's been very impactful because I haven't had that time to rest or nest,” she said.

“I had a job for up until a couple weeks ago because of my maternity leave, but luckily it's not full-time so I was able to work things out, but I can only imagine how hard it would be for families that have either a single parent or two parents working full time.”

About 60 people from the CUPE Local 71 who work in Cochrane's fire department, corporate services, public works, parks and recreation and daycare have been on strike since July 31.

Pay is at the heart of the dispute. The deal being offered by the municipality, according to CUPE, is below the inflation rate.

A forced vote is being held for affected members on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Lyne Nolet, an operations clerk worker and CUPE 71 president, said the vote is the municipality's last offer and will be supervised by the ministry.

“Then we’ll know more about what’s going on and where we’re aiming. They only wanted to negotiate once and that was last Friday,” Nolet said.

“But the members are in high spirits and while we're disappointed that we are being forced to go on a supervised vote, we're grateful to the community for all the assistance and support that they're offering us; financially and emotionally.”

TimminsToday has reached out to Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis. He was not available to comment by the time of this publishing, but his comments will be added to this story when available.

To show support for the childcare workers, Nye has written a letter to the mayor and council. As of last Friday, it had been signed by 80 other people.

“If you don't speak up, nothing changes, so someone’s got to be the one to say something. Kids thrive off of consistency and routine. The fact that that's been essentially disabled for them is really impactful,” she said.

The municipality should have some respect and desire for a growing community, Nye said.

“When you immobilize the services that people rely on who have growing families, you're also taking away from what they're able to contribute. By people having to take time off work, they're also losing money,” she said.

“We're all taxpayers, so it's not just the people on strike that are losing money, but also people that have to struggle with childcare now that are losing money. And even if you have an option to get a sitter or go to a day home, which those are few and far between as resources, the price is double, triple, or quadruple, depending on where they're going.”

Because she's pregnant, Nye has only been able to march once in solidarity with workers on the picket line.

“I found that to be quite energizing too just, you know, having a chat with everyone and letting them know that I support them as a town citizen and a childcare parent,” she said.

Everyone on the picket line was filled with positivity and confidence, Nye said.

“It was definitely a good energy, as much as people are feeling down and out. Solidarity does wonders for community, honestly. And hearing horns honk and everyone kind of working together to fight for this cause, that's the energetic part about it and the positive,” she said.

The strike has been a very divisive topic, Nye said.

“I think a lot of people, like in private sector jobs, have commentary like, 'Well, privatized, doesn't get this, this or that.' But, at the end of the day, everyone deserves to make more money, especially when the cost of living is getting higher and also loss of wages for people because of not being able to work. So, there's a lot of money being lost right now for everyone,” she said.

Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative,