WhitewaterTownship road employees vote to leave union

·2 min read

Cobden – Twelve employees will be added onto the salary grid of Whitewater Region Township following the decertification of the roads staff members in CUPE Local 4353.

The employees represent three job classes that will be incorporated into the salary grid along with reviewing human resources policies to ensure harmonization, said Chief Administrative Officer Robert Tremblay.

Reeve Cathy Regier, chair of the township’s Human Resources Committee, read aloud a statement on behalf of council at the Wednesday, May 19 council meeting advising of the decertification. She noted the Ontario Labour Board, in a letter dated May 7, advised that more than 50 per cent of the ballots cast by employees in the bargaining unit supported ending the union.

Mayor Mike Moore said the roads crew are an important part of the township and provide vital services, including road maintenance, brushing, grading, plowing, ditching and construction.

“They ensure we can meet our township’s mission of delivering quality services to a welcoming community,” he said.

This is a “vote of confidence in the leadership of the township,” both from council and managers, Mr. Tremblay said.

“The employees are crucial members of the Whitewater Region team and we believe they will be well served by the employment policies that currently apply to non-union staff,” he added.

After the meeting, Mr. Tremblay said the roads department has been unionized since amalgamation, just over 20 years ago.

The contract for the employees is in its third of five years but, as of May 7, the contract is no longer valid, he said.

Everything that was in the contract applies and once all the policies and salary grids are completed, hopefully by July 1, that is what will come into place, Mr. Tremblay said.

While he was not privy to why the employees voted in favour of decertification, he believes there were a variety of reasons, including it is a seniority-based union and there was no short and long-term disability in the contract.

“That is not a principle in the township,” Mr. Tremblay said, explaining employees are based on their work and skills, not how long they’ve been at a job. “There is a 10-factor based job evaluation.”

Mr. Tremblay said some of the 12 employees may receive an increase in pay, but none of them will receive less than what they are currently receiving.

Johanna Zomers, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader