• John Jantak

Unionized blue collar workers stage second strike outside Vaudreuil-Dorion city hall


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

The top of an inflatable air dancer balloon hovers over the striking Vaudreuil-Dorion blue collar municipal employees. The union has agreed that essential services would continue uninterrupted during the strike action.

Unionized municipal employees held a boisterous demonstration outside Vaudreuil-Dorion City Hall last Friday, June 22 to protest lagging contract talks with the municipal administration. The four-hour strike began at 8 a.m. and ended at noon.

It was the second strike action taken against the city by members of the Fédération des employées et employés de services publics (FEESP–CSN). The first walkout was also held also in front of city hall on June 11 lasting three hours, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Some union employees brought municipal vehicles to city hall as part of the protest.

Right to strike

While the city respects the right of the unionized blue collar to stage their legal strikes, Director General Martin Houde said the employees are not allowed to use any municipal vehicles during their protests.

“They used city vehicles the first time but they didn’t have the right to do that. That is clear. They can’t be used during a strike. The union has been advised and there are no city vehicles being used in the strike today,” Houde told The Journal during an interview inside city hall last Friday morning during the second strike.

Houde said the city has had 12 meetings with union representatives and have been in contract negotiations since March 20, 2017. “There has been progress and the negotiations have moved forward. We don’t understand the purpose of the strike but it’s a legal strike,” said Houde.

“We are ready to meet with the union in the following weeks. We are also ready to provide our salary offer. We are positive we can resolve the situation within the coming weeks,” added Houde.

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Vaudreuil-Dorion blue collar employees with the Fédération des employées et employés de services publics (FEESP–CSN) staged a four hour strike in front of city hall to protest lagging contract negotiations with the city last Friday morning, June 22.

Negotiation meeting cancelled

The second strike was called after a planned meeting to discuss contract issues was reportedly abruptly cancelled by the city last Thursday, according to a press release issued by the FEESP–CSN that represents the Vaudreuil-Dorion salaried blue collar workers.

“The employer sent us an email advising us that our meeting was simply cancelled. We do not have any meetings on the agenda anymore, so we're stuck. Members are being intimidated when we are just exercising legitimate and legal pressure to conclude this negotiation swiftly,” said union President Clayton West in the communiqué. Union members have been without a contract since December 31, 2017.

“If we have decided to apply pressure tactics, it is because we have the distinct impression that the mayor is deliberately dragging out the negotiations. For us, this is another inappropriate and unnecessary provocative gesture that only postpones the time when we will have to see each other again and negotiate seriously,” added West.

Contract issues

Contract issues include maintaining general seniority which allows employees to apply for job vacancies in all sectors and the creation of additional positions. Several employees are working 12 additional hours each week on top of the standard 40 hours.

An agreement was reached by the city and the union that essential services would be maintained during the strikes to ensure the health and safety of the population was not endangered.

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