Winnipeg’s largest union warns workers to prepare for strike after latest talks fail to result in contract

The City of Winnipeg’s largest union has told its 5,000 members to sign up for strike picket duty after the latest round of contract talks failed to result in a collective agreement.

Representatives from the city and the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500 held conciliation talks on Thursday and Friday aimed at reaching a new labour deal to replace the contract that expired in 2021.

“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, minimal movement was made by the employer,” CUPE 500 president Gord Delbridge told his members in a statement posted to the union website late Friday.

“We realize our members are extremely frustrated, as is your bargaining committee with the lack of progress made to conclude this round of negotiations. Our goal remains to get you the best agreement possible that values the work you do and services you provide to the citizens of Winnipeg.”

CUPE 500 members voted 93 per cent to strike in July and opened their strike headquarters on Sept. 12. The union’s members work for 311, recreational services, water and waste, traffic and other municipal services.

Delbridge is now asking his members to prepare for picket duty. 

“Taking strike action is always a last resort, but it appears we are headed in that direction. While we don’t have a strike deadline set, we are continuing our strike preparations in the event that job action cannot be avoided,” he said.

The City of Winnipeg has been asked for comment.

Winnipeg has not experienced a general municipal workers strike since 1919.

In recent years, the city and its largest union have kept the peace by negotiating deals that offer workers job security in exchange for very modest wage increases.