Community Update on the Status of Bargaining with CUPE Local 136

Thursday, November 09, 2023

A message from Jane Clohecy, Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Oakville

I want to take a moment to thank you, the Oakville community, for your ongoing patience through the labour disruption with our CUPE Local 136 union. I know it has not been easy.

Over the last week, I have received many inquiries from the community asking questions and looking for information about the town’s ongoing bargaining with the union. I have also heard from many the frustration and inconvenience the CUPE 136 strike is causing for you and your families, and I want to assure you that the town is committed to getting a deal so we can open our community centres and arenas and return to providing the programs and services you count on.

Our bargaining team has been in continuous dialogue with the union since November 3 and I want to share with you the offer we continue to make to the union:

  • a 12.75 per cent wage increase over a four-year term. This matches or exceeds any other comparable municipal outside worker offer in Ontario.
  • a $750 lump sum payment in 2023.
  • a new healthcare spending account benefit to complement the already competitive medical, drug, vision, and dental benefits plan.
  • significantly improved vacation.
  • the addition of a new compassionate care leave salary top-up benefit.
  • increases to meal allowance, tool allowance, shift premiums, and medical note reimbursements.

In addition, the town withdrew its requests to add language that would amend future statutory holiday requirements and generic drugs. This entire offer surpasses any other comparable municipal outside worker collective agreement negotiated this year in Ontario.

I firmly believe that the town’s offer is a reasonable one that balances the needs of our workforce and our community. While we have some remaining issues related to maintaining our current use of temporary employees in Recreation and Culture, and 12-hour shifts for winter operations, we believe these can be resolved.

However, there are some union demands and refusals that would impact our ability to deliver service, remain fair to taxpayers and attract and retain staff. We are strongly of the view that if we resolve these issues, the parties will reach a deal which will, in turn, end the strike.

These are:

  • CUPE 136 wants to significantly change the way standby duties are scheduled. The town must retain the ability to have our roads, traffic, and forestry teams on standby to respond quickly to significant weather events, like wind, ice, and snowstorms, for the safety of our residents. This requirement has always existed and is critical to our ability to maintain service levels, response time and control costs. To address union concerns about work-life balance for staff, the town proposed that the union allow seasonal CUPE 136 employees to take on standby duties as well.
  • We are facing labour shortages in the province for certain skilled trades. Attracting and retaining skilled trades is a challenge in specific circumstances, so we need the ability to adjust pay to be more competitive with market demands.
  • We want the ability to provide limited vacation credit for new and existing employees based on relevant prior experience to attract and retain staff.

Our offer is competitive, fair, and balances the needs of our workforce, our operations, and our community in a fiscally responsible way. A very similar offer was accepted by our CUPE Local 1329, representing our inside workers who provide recreation programming, senior and youth services, building plans review and inspections, facilities and construction management, engineering services, planning, zoning and much more.

Both the town and CUPE 136 want a deal and have our employees return to work. We have confirmed that we will be meeting with the union at the bargaining table this evening and are hopeful for a speedy resolution.

You can stay up to date by visiting the town’s Labour Relations page and following the town’s social media channels.

Thank you again for your patience during this labour disruption and as we strive to return to delivering the excellent service we are known for.