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UPDATE: Wood Buffalo Housing issues lock out notice to employees

Last Updated May 8, 2019 at 12:38 pm MST

IMAGE. Supplied by Wood Buffalo Housing.

Wood Buffalo Housing (WBH) has given its employees a lock out notice.

The notice means that as of Friday at 4:30 p.m., the non-profit’s employees could be forced to hit the picket lines.

Henry Hunter, president of WBH said that they presented a new business model to CUPE 1505 in October 2018.

The new model would see around 25 of 46 employees laid off and replaced with contract workers.

He said the new business model is management’s best option and WBH has asked the union for other solutions that would avoid the lay offs.

“They’ve never come forward with any options other than the status quo and unfortunately the status quo is not acceptable to us because it means that we’ll be continually running deficits.”

Hunter said they’ve been working with a mediator and they’ve offered a “generous severance package” to those who would be let go.

CUPE 1505 President Judy Collier said that the non-profit feels the switch would save money.

“Unions know and history shows that doesn’t happen. They usually don’t receive as good of customer service as well, the work is usually not as good when it’s done by contractors compared to loyal employees that work for the organization.”

Collier added that contractors come and go and they may not have the same security clearances as union members.

She said the lockout is a form of pressure to have employees accept the deal that would eliminate 26 positions.

Hunter said WBH tried to go back to the bargaining table before they issued the lock out, but Hunter said they were pushed away.

A contingency plan is in place in the case that workers hit the picket lines to avoid disruptions to tenants.