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Inside city workers picket outside Saint John City Hall on Sept. 12, 2023. Image: Submitted/Brittany Doyle

Rebuilding relationships after strike by city workers

By Brad Perry Oct 11, 2023 | 2:28 PM

Around 140 municipal workers in Saint John are back on the job after a nearly month-long strike.

The clerical, administrative and support staff working in various departments are members of CUPE Local 486.

The new five-year deal, which they approved on Monday, was formally ratified by Common Council and the Saint John Board of Police Commissioners on Tuesday evening.

Brent McGovern, the city’s chief administrative officer, said he knows the last month has been challenging for many.

“I look forward to our employees returning to the workplace as we seek to embark on a fresh start and the start of building a stronger relationship,” McGovern said Tuesday evening.

Building relationships back up was also a key message from the union president in the days after the agreement was reached.

Meanwhile, the city’s police chief downplayed any concerns about potential strained relationships after the strike.

“I don’t know that relationships are broken,” said Robert Bruce. “I mean, it’s always difficult when employees go out for whatever reason and then they come back, so there’s a bit of a transition.”

“I think in these times it’s always emotional and sometimes it gets heated, and that’s understandable, but we have a respectful workplace and we intend on carrying that through.”

Civlian police staff, including emergency dispatchers, were among those on the picket lines.

Bruce said their continuity plan included a process to transition staff back to work once the strike was over.

“The collective bargaining process is what it is. The members involved have to do what they have to do to look after what they think their needs are.”