UPDATE SUN., MARCH 2, 1:00pm:  A mediator has ordered both sides back to the bargaining, but the union maintains its plan to go on strike at 6:00pm Monday.  Here is the complete union statement: “The mediator has ordered both parties back to the bargaining table. At this time, our members fully expect to go on strike at 6 p.m. on Monday unless a final deal is reached. People using Timmins Airport should expect that their travel may be impacted by our members peaceably exercising their constitutional right to strike. “

The union for 19 outside workers at Timmins Victor M. Power has notified their employer, the City of Timmins, that they will go on strike at 6:00pm Monday, March 4.

The employees have been without a contract since the end of 2016.  The union and the city disagree over whether contract talks are at an impasse.  The major issue is what the Union of Canadian Transportation calls a sneaky move by the employer to effectively cut the workers’ earnings.  That is bases on the city offer of a 1.5% pay raise, coupled with clawbacks on benefits like outdoor work clothes.

The workers keep the runways clear of snow, among other duties.

UCTE is affiliated with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).  In a news release, PSAC regional executive vice-president Sharon DeSousa claims that Mayor George Pirie does not recognize  how vital the workers are for the safe operation of the airport.  She also cites a letter from Rock Foy, the city’s corporate services director to federal labour minister Patty Hajdu.  In it, he says that a strike or lockout “would result in an immediate and serious danger to the safety and health of the public.”

The news release appeals to families who begin March Break at the end of the week, to contact the mayor to let him know of their concerns.

The union also says the strike can be avoided if the city goes back to the bargaining table “to work to establish a fair agreement.”

On Thursday, City of Timmins CAO Dave Landers told My Cochrane Now Dot Com that the city is willing to resume negotiations.

The Timmins airport is a regional transportation hub for Northeastern Ontario and the James Bay Coast.