City Union Votes Saturday

By John Swartz

Striking City of Orillia staff, members of Local 636 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, are voting on a contract offer Saturday morning from 9 to 11 a.m. IBEW business representative Tim Pitts is optimistic a majority will vote to end the strike.

“Hopefully we’ll have a good result and get our people back to work,” said Pitts.

Mayor Steve Clarke hopes so too.

“My hope they do ratify, they do vote for the offer, and we get through this as soon as possible,” said Clarke.

In the first week of the strike the City refused union offers to negotiate, but the members of the negotiating team (Lori Bolton – director of human resources, Andrew Schell – GM of environment and infrastructure, Renee Recoskie – manager of property and environmental sustainability) eventually responded.

“We didn’t really achieve anything to bring back to the members until recently. We have a decent package we think and we’re bringing it to them tomorrow,” said Pitts.

During the strike, the City re-assigned some staff from other departments to operate snow clearing equipment and pictures of overturned sidewalk plows, damaged property and collisions started circulating online.

“Not every side walk was built to today’s specs, I know a sidewalk plow tilted over a few weeks ago, probably in week one, but that also has happened a few years with regular staff,” said Clarke.

The City may also have dodged a public outcry if the record pothole season experienced last year came back for round two. Clarke said those would have been chased after the same as last year.

“We pay contractors who are called to take care of those kinds of things. I’m glad it didn’t happen, but if it had happened it would have been dealt with,” Clarke said.

Results from the vote by the 58 members of Local 636 the should be available by morning’s end.

“We should have everything counted and ready to go, we should have an announcement around 11:30 (a.m.),’ said Pitts. “I’m optimistic we’ll get a deal tomorrow.”

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: Striking workers at Orillia’s Operations Center.


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