Striking Matheson workers reach agreement with township

BLACK RIVER-MATHESON - After nearly eight months, striking workers have reached an agreement with Black River-Matheson.

Yesterday (May 23) afternoon, CUPE Local 1490 workers voted 12-3 with 15 out of the 16 striking members participating in the vote.

They are meeting with township staff again this morning to finalize details, including their return to work date.

Tammy Robinson, a spokesperson for CUPE Local 1490, said while workers know the journey isn’t done, they’re feeling relieved.

“You know when there's that sense of satisfaction and relief all wrapped up in one? It’s done,” she said.

The ongoing labour dispute started in October 2023 when the township locked out CUPE members. The members went on strike when the township ended the lockout in January.

Earlier this month, the union had reached a tentative agreement with the town, but ultimately rejected the offer. It was primarily because of the return to work protocol.

“They're ecstatic with the return to work. They had had more questions around that. So we had somebody come up and explain it more thoroughly for them. And then they had to absorb it, right. It was a lot. Especially for the men who have criminal charges,” Robinson said.

“But they had enough time to digest it and they understand it now, and that's what we wanted, to make sure that they understood and they made a very informed choice.”

The back-to-work protocol is going to be the new standard for CUPE, Robinson said.

“It's that good,” she said.

In terms of the wage grid, Robinson said both parties compromised.

“They wanted 42 months, we ended up with 18 which was six more than what we originally had. So we didn't get totally what we wanted,” she said.

“But with the pay raises, the entry level is like pennies different, not dollars. So we were like, OK, we can live with that because people just want to get back to work.”

Once everything is established, more details will be released, Robinson said.

“This has been a roller coaster ride from hell, but the guys are happy,” she said.

TimminsToday has called and emailed Black River-Matheson for comment and has not received a response yet.

Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative,