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Operating engineers walk off after Sunday strike vote

Don Wall
Operating engineers walk off after Sunday strike vote

Members of the International Union on Operating Engineers (IUOE) in Ontario’s ICI sector were on strike May 2 after voting Sunday afternoon to reject the latest offer by the employer bargaining agency.

Bargaining teams met over the weekend with a 2 p.m. session established weeks ago for either a strike vote or a ratification.

The vote rejected the recommended settlement of the employee bargaining team.

IUOE Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher, head of the employee bargaining agency, said he expected members to be off work Monday. The union has not yet established a plan for picket lines.

The terms offered by the negotiating parties are not known but Gallagher had previously said the operating engineers would be seeking a higher wage settlement than the nine per cent over three years, with a 0.5 per cent Toronto premium, achieved by the Ironworkers in March.

“It is a difficult time for our members and their families these last two years due to the uncertainty caused by a pandemic which continues and now inflation,” stated Gallagher. “Rising cost of accommodation, fuel prices, hotels for out-of-town work, parking and meals are wreaking havoc on our members and their families’ pocketbook.

“Due to these sudden cost of living increases the members are seeking relief from their employers greater than we were able to achieve for them in bargaining thus far.”

Gallagher stated it is a challenging time for the industry and that the employees recognize that employers are also facing rising costs.

“We look forward to returning to the bargaining table as soon as possible in an effort to address our members’ dissatisfaction with the employer offer that it fell short of addressing their proposals,” Gallagher added.

Tony Fanelli, executive with the Construction Labour Relations Association of Ontario and head negotiator for the employers, said he would be responding to questions about negotiations at a later date.

Contracts across Ontario’s ICI sector expired April 30.

Watch for updates on the strike and on negotiations in other sectors as more information becomes available.

 

Follow the author on Twitter @DonWall_DCN.

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