Skip to content

Matheson closes town hall, cancels council meeting for 'safety concerns'

CUPE members from Toronto are rallying with Matheson workers today
Striking Matheson workers were joined by CUPE members from Toronto today (Feb. 13).

Black River-Matheson has cancelled its council meeting and has closed its office today (Feb. 13) due to a CUPE rally taking place this afternoon.

The union announced Monday (Feb. 12) that the rally is happening from noon until 4 p.m. at the corner of Railway Street and Fourth Avenue.

The 14 members of CUPE Local 1490 who are currently on strike will be partaking in the rally and will be joined by CUPE Local 416 members from Toronto.

The town released a statement Tuesday morning that its 6:30 p.m. council meeting is cancelled due to an “unforeseen, significant event” and “safety concerns for participants in the meeting, including members and members of the public.”

“In light of the scheduled rally by CUPE Local 1490 and the concerning escalation of tensions on social media platforms, ensuring the safety and security of council members, staff, and the public is our paramount concern,” clerk-treasurer Cassandra Child wrote in the release.

“Hence, as a precautionary measure, the regular council meeting scheduled for Feb. 13, 2024, is hereby cancelled.”

Ted Aivalis from CUPE Local 416 said about 24 of their members rallied to stand in solidarity with the 14 individuals on strike. The Toronto members plan to continue to support the Matheson workers until a deal is struck with the town.

“They've been out for far too long and some of the tactics that the municipality has employed against them is shameful,” he said. “We're here to support them.”

The community support throughout the rally has been fantastic, Aivalis said.

“I've been shocked by it. Unfortunately, I’m in one of the roles where we visit dozens of strike lines a year and I've never seen support from a community the way that I've seen the community support here,” he said.

“They've been coming by, they've been dropping off baked goods and coffees and, you know, honking and all those things. It's been great.”

Closing the town hall and cancelling the council meeting is another shameful tactic, said Aivalis.

“I believe that you have to have these meetings. They're important. You have to hear from workers and from the residents. The residents here are frustrated from what I'm hearing from them. They want the meetings, they want to be able to voice their concerns,” he said.

“I think that everybody wants to turn the corner. Everybody wants to put this behind them, but you can't when you're cancelling meetings, enforcing contracts, and doing all these shameful things.”

Randy Brousseau, vice president for CUPE Local 1490, said he believes the town is scared.

“I'm even going to use the word coward. I mean, if you can't face your public, let alone the members that you've thrown out without a job since October, I think this is a really unexpected tactic on their behalf,” he said.

Aivalis said he hopes the rally sparks negotiations to continue.

“And that they can get back to the table. That's the only place you can get a deal and we're hoping that they can get back there and the town shows them the respect that these workers deserve,” he said.

Similarly, Brousseau said he hopes the rally puts more pressure on the municipality.

“And they realize that there's still 14 of us sitting on the side of a line without an employment and that we still have bills to pay. Our tax bill just came in yesterday. How am I supposed to pay that,” he said.

“But we're still standing strong. We are here. We're not going anywhere and we're going to fight for a fair deal right up until the end.”

TimminsToday has reached out to the township for comments.

Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Marissa Lentz covers civic issues along the Highway 11 corridor under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
Read more

Reader Feedback