The union representing 28 employees at Highlands East says it has voted unanimously in favour of strike action, prior to scheduled conciliation June 10.

Eric Bell, a CUPE communications representative, issued a press release last week, saying members of CUPE Local 4416 represent the civic employees at the municipality.

As is customary with labour negotiations, the union has released information, while the township will not.

“At this time, the municipality does not wish to provide comment on this matter,” CAO/treasurer Brittany McCaw said.

Bell said the vote, on May 8, came following multiple days of negotiations between the bargaining committee and the township.

He said, “fair wage increases to address the cost of living remains a priority issue, as well as fighting back against concessions from the employer, including mandatory weekend work, and the ability to change employee schedules with little to no notice.”

Asked by The Highlander what the union considers to be “fair wages,” Bell said he would not discuss specifics, “but members are looking at wages that meet the rate of inflation and address the increased cost of living.”

Asked what new concessions were on the table, he said “new mandatory weekend language that would require some members to work weekends with little notice.”

Bell further claimed, “the employer is refusing to negotiate benefits for two female workers that men working in the same position on the same schedule previously enjoyed.” However, he would not discuss details around the union’s claims regarding either notice or benefits, nor did he provide proof of the union’s benefits’ claim.

He did quote president Rick Huffman as saying, “this unanimous vote sends a strong signal to the employer that our members are united and willing to stand up and fight for fair wages and against concessions.

Huffman added, “our members have lives outside of work, and at the very least, they deserve predictable schedules that allow them to be able to make plans in their personal lives. They also deserve fair wages to address the growing cost of living, and everyone deserves benefits, regardless of their gender, especially when those benefits were offered to men working in the same position.” Again, the union produced nothing to back this claim.

It also provided no proof of claims of “ongoing workplace health and safety issues that continue to go unaddressed by the municipality.