As a candidate for HRM’s Municipal Council in Dartmouth Centre (District 5), I stand firmly and solidly in support of the members of CUPE Local 108, the Halifax Civic Workers’ Union, in their ongoing struggle to achieve a fair negotiated Collective Agreement with our municipal government that doesn’t attack the pension benefits they have worked so hard to obtain and need to support themselves and their families in retirement.

The city of Halifax has a duty to provide services and infrastructure that make our communities safe, accessible, affordable and healthy.

gabriel-21Members of the Halifax Civic Workers’ union perform many of the daily tasks that fulfill these duties. Members of CUPE Local 108 work at recreation facilities like the Halifax Forum, the Sackville Stadium, the Dartmouth Sportsplex and the other rinks and recreation facilities in our city. Their members include mechanics, carpenters, cleaners and plumbers that work for the City of Halifax. These union members maintain and inspect our playgrounds and sportsfields, they repair our roads and our sidewalks. They include gardeners who work all around our City making Halifax beautiful with flower arrangements and plants. They work in our major parks like Point Pleasant Park, the Halifax Public Gardens and Shubie Park.

If you call the City to complain about a pothole, or a falling tree or a dead animal on the roadway, these are the workers who respond to those calls and take care of those things for us. In the Winter months, their primary job is to clean our streets of snow and ice, although the City has outsourced and contracted out that work in many parts of our city to contractors who are ill-equipped to handle that work.

We cannot have a safe and healthy community if the workers are not treated with fairness and good faith at the bargaining table. A decent pension to ensure security and dignity in retirement should be a baseline, and it’s unacceptable that the City is threatening to lock out workers while pushing drastic concessions on the pension plan.

Every four years, our voting public elects a mayor and council, and entrusts them with serving the public interest. They need to direct the city’s negotiators to stop threatening a lockout and work with the union to come up with a fair deal. They need to tell the City’s negotiators to get back to the bargaining table and bargain a fair agreement with these workers.

These workers don’t have “gold plated” pension plans. Their current pensions allow them to retire with basic dignity, with the majority of workers receiving pensions of about $20 thousand each year after many years of work and service to our City.

We need to all stand together and say to our current Mayor and Councilors that it is time for them to step up and ensure that their workers are treated fairly, and that the city’s negotiators are reigned-in from their mandate to attack these workers pensions and benefits through threats of lockout.

Our city can be a fairer and more just place.

We can start with our own municipal employees.

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