Replacement workers brought in as Fredericton outside workers remain locked out

Contract talks between the City of Fredericton and CUPE Local 508 have hit a stalemate — with workers now being locked out.

CUPE Local 508 represents outside workers in New Brunswick’s capital, which includes snowplow operators, mechanics and staff who maintain the city’s drinking water.

The union is pushing for an immediate seven per cent wage increase for its members, something the city says is unfair to taxpayers.

“It’s not an affordable level,” said Jeff Trail, Fredericton’s deputy CAO.

“Therefore we’ve reached this impasse and we received a strike notice last week.”

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On Thursday, the union served a strike notice to the city, giving them 24-hours notice of strike action.

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The city then moved to lock the workers out instead.

“Simply because we couldn’t be exposed to rotating strikes,” explained Trail.

Fredericton Council held a special meeting on Friday, voting to hire temporary replacement workers with AFIMAC Canada to fill the jobs.

On Saturday, members of CUPE Local 508 formed a picket line outside the city’s Northside Operations Centre.

“We decided it would be best if we showed our presence,” says Michael Lee, a member of the union.

“It wasn’t something we were going to deal well with.”

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Lee estimates 50 people came out to Saturday’s picket line.

Neither the union nor the city would indicate when talks will resume.