Halifax outside municipal workers ratify new contract



The members of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 108 Unit 1, outside municipal workers for Halifax Regional Municipality, voted to accept a new two-year contract today.

The ratified collective agreement includes wage increases of 1.5% each year of the contract, some benefit improvements for seasonal workers, and increased hourly premiums for winter works.

The new contract is in effect from November 1, 2015 to October 31, 2017.

“Although we had to go through a lengthy conciliation process to reach an agreement, we’re pleased that our members were able to make some gains,” says CUPE 108 President Mark Cunningham.

“More importantly, we successfully pushed back concessions to our pension plan.”

CUPE 108, Halifax Civic Workers, are outside workers employed by the Halifax Regional Municipality. There are over 300 members in Unit 1 including labourers, facility maintainers, gardeners, utility workers, storepersons, traffic sign and marking technicians, painters, building trades persons, fleet trades persons, engine room operators, chief plant operators, and plant operators including arena, rink, and pool.



— contact information below

Insist that they get back to the bargaining table – to discuss all of the issues that are important to us – and to bargain a fair contract. We can only reach a settlement if both sides are negotiating!

On August 10 the employer walked away from the bargaining table. Since then, CUPE 108 representatives have requested new dates for negotiations from the employer. Each time, the City has refused.

The employer wants union members to pay the employer’s obligations to the pension plan. Our pension plan is a 50/50 cost-sharing plan and it must stay that way!

The members of CUPE Local 108 are only looking for a fair and reasonable contract. CUPE members believe that all workers deserve this respect.

In the end, it’s HRM residents that lose out. We pay our elected officials and staff to negotiate these contracts. We should get what we pay for – a fairly bargained contract for city workers and no interruption to our public services.

Mike Savage, 902-490-4010, mayor@halifax.ca
Barry Dalrymple, 902-860-6022, Barry.Dalrymple@halifax.ca
David Hendsbee, 902-889-3553, David.Hendsbee@halifax.ca
Bill Karsten, 902-490-7032, bill.karsten@halifax.ca
Lorelei Nicoll, 902-478-2705, Lorelei.Nicoll@halifax.ca
Gloria McCluskey, 902-490-7033, gloria.mccluskey@halifax.ca
Tony Mancini , 902-860-3223, browns@halifax.ca
Waye Mason, 902-490-8462, Waye.mason@halifax.ca
Jennifer Watts, 902-497-4748, Jennifer.Watts@halifax.ca
Linda Mosher, 902-477-8618, Linda.Mosher@halifax.ca
Russell Walker, 902-443-8010, russell.walker@halifax.ca
Stephen Adams, 902-477-0627, stephen.adams@halifax.ca
Reg Rankin, 902-499-3744, reg.rankin@halifax.ca
Matt Whitman, 902-240-3330, Matt.Whitman@halifax.ca
Brad Johns, 902-476-1234, Brad.Johns@halifax.ca
Tim Outhit, 902-490-5679, outhitt@halifax.ca
Steve Craig, 902-240-0441, steve.craig@halifax.ca



Halifax outside workers extremely disappointed with employer’s offer

Despite the threat of a lock-out made by their employer, members of CUPE 108 Unit 1, Halifax outside workers, overwhelmingly rejected the offer put forward to them by their employer, with a 90 per cent vote to reject on the evening of August 17th.

“Residents should be aware that the City has made it clear that they would rather lock out workers than continue to bargain a fair collective agreement,” says Todd MacPherson, CUPE representative. On Tuesday, August 9, the employer served notice of their intention to lock employees out, even though the two sides were actively negotiating that day.”

“We are ready to go back into negotiations with the employer at any time. We want to reach an agreement at the table, and avoid a disruption of services that could happen if the City goes through with their threat to lock out our members,” says Mark Cunningham, president of CUPE 108.

“This employer needs to understand that we will not bargain concessions – even under the threat of a lock out.”

CUPE 108, Halifax Civic Workers, are outside workers employed by the Halifax Regional Municipality. There are over 300 members in Unit 1 including labourers, facility maintainers, gardeners, utility workers, storepersons, traffic sign and marking technicians, painters, building trades persons, fleet trades persons, engine room operators, chief plant operators, and plant operators including arena, rink, and pool.



Halifax Civic Workers vote in favour of strike action

Halifax Civic Workers vote in favour of strike action

Members of CUPE 108 Unit 1, outside municipal workers employed by the City of Halifax, gave their union a strong strike vote on July 14, 2016.

“When we explained to our members how little effort the employer made to sit down with us and negotiate, the members were understandably frustrated and disappointed,” says CUPE 108 President Mark Cunningham.

“The last thing we want is a disruption of Halifax’s outdoor municipal services to the residents of Halifax. Hopefully this will motivate the City to agree to discuss the issues that are important to our members and to negotiate a fair collective agreement.”

Negotiations are set to resume the first week of August and the CUPE Local 108 negotiations committee is committed to bargain with the employer for a fair contract.

CUPE 108, Halifax Civic Workers, are outside workers employed by the Halifax Regional Municipality. There are over 300 members in Unit 1 including labourers, facility maintainers, gardeners, utility workers, storepersons, traffic sign and marking technicians, painters, building trades persons, fleet trades persons, engine room operators, chief plant operators, and plant operators including arena, rink, and pool.




Until the 1980s, MONTREAL local government employees did most of the work on sidewalks and roads. Extra volume was outsourced to private firms. By 2002, however, following municipal mergers, municipal employees were no longer doing any of the work. In 2013, Quebec’s public inquiry into corruption and collusion in the construction industry, the Charbonneau Commission, exposed bid rigging schemes in which companies had been awarded public road, wastewater, and other building contracts at highly inflated prices. The same year, the province of Quebec passed legislation requiring construction companies doing work for local governments above specified costs to apply for authorization to a new provincial body. In one 2013 Montreal contract bid, tenders were scrapped when none of the bidders had received proper authorization under the Order in Council. As a result of these issues, many boroughs decided to bring sidewalk maintenance and construction projects back in house. These included Villeray–Saint-Michel–Park-Extension, Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, and Côtes-des-Neiges–Notre Dame-de-Grâce. The mayor of Villeray–Saint-Michel–Park-Extension told the media that quotes from private contractors had come in 25 to 44 per cent higher than expected. Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie reported savings of over $150,000 (or 18 per cent of the budget) in 2015 by bringing sidewalk maintenance back in house. The mayor of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, François Croteau, cited cost-savings and increased flexibility as the main reasons to have public workers doing this work: “When a crew is working on a project on a street and sees a sidewalk that needs repair nearby, it can simply do the work, whereas private companies must stick to their contract.”


Back in House

Halifax municipal workers worried reduced leaf collection could lead to flooding

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA–(Marketwired – Dec. 2, 2015) – With lots of leaves still on the ground in Halifax and snow in the forecast, the union representing municipal outside workers is concerned about cuts to the city’s leaf collection program.

CUPE Local 108 President Mark Cunningham says, “The potential for flooding during a rain storm becomes very real when those leaves freeze up and storm drains are blocked.

“We really only have a very short window of opportunity between when the leaves fall and when the snow comes, to get those large piles of leaves collected and those storm drains cleared,” he says.

Cunningham says outside workers started to be concerned when they were told how little time would be dedicated towards the program. “This service used to be a 24/7 operation for at least a couple of weeks prior to winter. Now Halifax is only providing the service 16 hours a day and only 5 days a week.

“Why the change” asks Cunningham. “Do we have fewer leaves falling from trees this year?” He says when you add into the equation the over 60 vacant staff positions that CAO Richard Butts refuses to fill, this becomes a serious problem for taxpayers in this city.

The union is asking residents to contact their member of Halifax Council and ask them why they’re no longer receiving the same quality of service as in past years, especially when there is a very real risk of major flooding.


Mark Cunningham
President, Local 108
(902) 877-3685 (m)

Todd MacPherson
CUPE National Representative
(902) 455-4180 (o)

John McCracken
CUPE Communications Representative
(902) 880-8057 (m)


Halifax’s plans to improve snow clearing ‘inadequate,’ union says

Halifax’s plans to improve snow clearing ‘inadequate,’ union says


Proposed improvements to sidewalk snow clearing this winter are “inadequate,” says the union representing municipal workers.

Halifax Regional Municipality staff have made several recommendations to improve sidewalk clearing “within the constraints of the existing resources and contracts.”

The recommendations will be presented to regional council Tuesday.

Councillors had directed staff to prepare a report by November on improving snow and ice clearing on sidewalks, at bus stops and intersections and on most city streets.

The report includes recommendations the transportation standing committee made indicating that four areas will be given snow-clearing priority this winter: sidewalks, curb cuts, bus stops and areas with signalled crosswalk activation buttons.

City staff also recommended an increased focus on the quality of service delivery. Trevor Harvie, acting superintendent of winter operations, met with all contractors to review service levels and performance expectations.

Harvie replaced the embattled Darrin Natolino, who resigned in October.

Additionally, consolidating in-house resources such as labour and equipment within the urban core and the expansion of performance-based contracts “has allowed the redeployment of four shift supervisors to ensure greater oversight is provided to the sidewalk performance-based contracts,” the report said.

Staff also propose increasing communication and enforcement efforts “by ticketing and towing vehicles that interfere with snow-clearing operations.”

But Local 108 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents more than 270 full-time municipal workers, has called on council and Mayor Mike Savage to invest in the sidewalk-clearing program instead of relying on performance-based contracts.

The union created a Change.org petition addressed to council that had garnered 100 signatures by Monday evening.

Union local president Mark Cunningham said one of the biggest problems facing the city’s snow-clearing program is there’s not enough equipment. Cunningham said there are five trackless vehicles available for the five sidewalk routes in the downtown core that in-house staff work on.

“So when one goes down, we’re stuck. We have nothing else for someone to use. So more supervision is not going to help that,” he said in an interview. “What’s going to help that is if HRM invests in more equipment.”

Cunningham also said that in the last five years, the municipality has reduced its full-time workforce by 60 people.

“And so the problem is, every year, we have less and less municipal workers and yet we’re expected to keep up the same standard.

“If (the city) follows the recommendations in the staff report, then if we have a winter like the last (one), it’s going to be the exact same, in my opinion. Until you hire more staff and you purchase new equipment and you beef up the snow program, we’re going to continue to see winters like we saw last winter.”

The staff report said a majority of contractors have indicated they have purchased additional equipment and attachments as a result of their experience last winter.

“Collectively, they recognized that a more proactive approach on their part could have assisted them in more efficiently meeting their contract obligations,” staff said. “Adjusted sidewalk clearing fleets (both in-house and contracted) will enhance sidewalk snow-clearing capacity.”