Mount Pearl's strike is cancelling kids' sports, and parents are frustrated with both sides

·3 min read
Ken Turner, president of CUPE local 2099, says there has been no further discussions between his members and the City of Mount Pearl as of Monday. City workers voted to strike last week.  (Mike Moore/CBC - image credit)
Ken Turner, president of CUPE local 2099, says there has been no further discussions between his members and the City of Mount Pearl as of Monday. City workers voted to strike last week. (Mike Moore/CBC - image credit)
Mike Moore/CBC
Mike Moore/CBC

Parents in Mount Pearl are frustrated over the cancellations of youth sports as unionized city workers remain on strike due to what it says are inferior benefits for new employees.

City staff voted 92 per cent in favour of strike action on Wednesday. They've been on picket lines since Thursday morning.

CUPE local 2099 president Ken Turner told CBC News on Monday there have been no further discussions between his members and the city.

On Monday CUPE members were out in force on the line at the city's depot in Donovan's Industrial Park. Picket lines have also included the primary target of city hall but have also shifted to baseball diamonds and soccer fields, causing disruptions for organizations running youth sport programs.

"Our workers do the work of the city, at all of our city facilities and all of our recreational facilities," Turner said.

"It's a time of year when people want to get back to their normal activities and that's just not happening right now."

Irritated parents took to social media over the weekend to voice their displeasure over the rift between the city and it's unionized employees. Others chimed in with support for the workers.

Turner said the city knew full well before his members went on strike that recreational facilities would be targeted with legal picket lines as they're part of his members' responsibilities.

Mike Moore/CBC
Mike Moore/CBC

"Right now, we're out on the street while we have managers out doing the work of the bargaining unit and of course we can't have that," he said.

"We understand the concerns of parents. The folks that work here at the City of Mount Pearl are parents themselves, they are from Mount Pearl, their children have been affected by this as well. We've spoke with organizers of all the sporting committees and we've received good support from them."

Impacting the kids

Monday morning was warm and sunny and the city's skate park off of Smallwood Drive was busy with kids enjoying their summer holidays.

Resident Nick Lawlor and his son Noah were there on their bicycles, rolling through the smooth concrete bowls and ramps of one of the city's crown jewels in terms of recreation.

Lawlor told CBC News the ongoing strike shouldn't impact the kids the way it has already, by forcing the cancellations of baseball, soccer and the closure of the city's swimming pool.

"Regardless of what politics is on the go, I don't think it should affect the children," he said.

"Especially during the summer time. They're looking forward to all the sports and stuff and it creates some structure in their lives during the summer. It shouldn't have anything to do with the kids."

Mike Moore/CBC
Mike Moore/CBC

Some residents commented in a Mount Pearl community Facebook group that workers had been picketing the skate park over the weekend, not allowing people to use it while the strike continues.

Turner said that's not the case at all and the picket line in the area was focused on the nearby baseball field and soccer pitch.

"We did not obstruct the skate park kids from going into the skate park. As a matter of fact its open right now," Turner said.

"We've seen the social media posts. We're upset by it as well. We've instructed our picket line captains and our picket folks to be as respectful as possible, to be safe and absolutely take care of themselves and take care of the residents and try to do the best they can."

Turner said he hopes to get back to the bargaining table with the city as soon as possible.

He said he knows residents are frustrated but has one piece of advice: "We understand that tempers can flare and we know that tensions are high. We know what we're coming out of and lets all just be safe and try to get this done together," he said.

"Folks can call council and put a stop to this."

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