Matheson offices closed for rest of the day

BLACK RIVER-MATHESON - Matheson has closed its office for the day.

The town took to their Facebook page this morning (Feb. 27) to make the announcement.

Its offices were also closed last Thursday (Feb. 22) and Friday (Feb. 23). At the time, Mayor Doug Bender said it was due to staffing issues.

On Feb. 13, the town cancelled its council meeting and closed its office due to a CUPE rally taking place in the afternoon.

The union is hosting an event today from 3:30 to 6 p.m. on the corner of 4th Avenue and Railway Street and a regular council meeting is taking place at 6:30 p.m., though it is unclear if it is being held virtually or not.

Last week the township announced it has hired a third-party investigator to look into social media comments and picketers.

In a statement released on Friday (Feb. 23), the township said senior managers have filed complaints under the Occupational Health and Safety Act that must be investigated. The complaints, according to the township, are about "persistent, critical social media" posts and "the actors in certain picket line matters that have created a work setting so extreme and inappropriate, it represents an unsafe work environment which is illegal.”

The Township of Black River-Matheson and CUPE Local 1490 workers have been in a labour dispute for more than four months.

On Oct. 15, the township locked out 14 union members. When the township ended the lockout on Jan. 21, the union members rejected the deal on the table and went on strike. The key concern for the union has been a two-tiered wage grid.

More to come.

Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative,