KENSINGTON – Six of the 12 unionized workers employed by the town of Kensington were locked out Wednesday after negotiations between the union and the town broke down.
© Journal Pioneer file photo
Unionized workers employed by the town of Kensington were locked out Wednesday. Among those on the picket lines were (from left) Les Thomas, the town's Public Works employee, Stacy Delaney, CUPE staff representative, Andrew Griffen, police officer and president of CUPE Local 4893, Jed Burt, supporting CUPE member from Local 3324, and Kim Mullet, police officer with the town.
The workers, members of CUPE local 4893, were locked out as of 8 a.m.
Those walking the picket line include communication technicians, public works employees and janitors.
The six other members of the union are police officers and as police are classified as an essential service they are exempt from the lockout.
Geoff Baker, the town’s chief administrative officer, said there was no communication between the town and the union on Wednesday.
As to how long the lockout might last, Baker said, “The lockout will be in force until one of two things happen: either CUPE accepts our deal or council wavers and I don’t think council is going to waver.”
No one from the union was available for comment Wednesday afternoon.
The timing of the lockout is a sore point with union officials.
Stacy Delaney, CUPE’s national representative, said Tuesday that although there is no good time for workers to be locked out by an employer this lockout, coming just three weeks before Christmas, is particularly disturbing.
“And this employer is choosing to lock its employees out of work. This is cold-hearted, to be sure,” Delaney said. “This lockout will undoubtedly affect services provided to the residents of Kensington.”
The union’s contract expired in April of this year.
Talks aimed at arriving at a new contract ended in May after five days with no agreement. When those talks failed the union filed for conciliation. Three days of talks were held between September and October without any resolution.
The matter was referred to a board of arbitration on Oct. 8.
“The outstanding issues all relate to equality and fairness for this group of employees, things like on-call pay for part-time police officers, wages and the duration of the contract,” Delaney said. “We are not asking for anything more than what other town of Kensington employees have received.”
Baker indicated that the town will not use other workers to fill the positions left vacant as a result of the lockout.
“It’s a difficult situation we’re in,” Baker said. “We’d like to think that this matter is going to be settled in short order and that all employees are going to be back to work in short order and collecting pay accordingly.”
Baker said he hoped the matter would be resolved long in advance of Christmas.
That is the union’s hope as well.