The holiday season is supposed to be a time when you celebrate with friends and family. You look back on all of the things you are thankful for throughout the year, and think about what you are hopeful for in the year to come.

It is about giving and kindness, laughter and joy.

It is something that is especially needed in Fort McMurray this year. Between the downturn in the economy and the devastating fires, the city has been hit hard.

Now, the holiday season just got a lot harder for a group of hard-working employees at CEDA Industrial Services in Fort McMurray.

Just two weeks before Christmas, CEDA has locked our members out.

Now they are left wondering what will happen to their jobs in an economy that is already suffering.

We were served a lock out notice on Dec. 8, locking us out at 4 p.m. on Dec. 11th.

However, we managed to convince the employer to return to the table on Dec.13 and they subsequently rescinded the lock out to today at noon.

What makes this even more frustrating for these members is that we have been trying to establish their first collective agreement with the employer since July 2015.

For over a year, we have been fighting so that these members get the respect they deserve in the workplace.

We acknowledge that a first collective does take a bit longer with a new group, but to take over a year is absolutely unacceptable.

This is a prime example why first agreement language has to be introduced into the labour code. Employers shouldn’t be able to play the system, which currently favours them in the sense that they can drag the process. This can potentially result in some new members losing confidence in their unions.

Following the initial lock out notice, our members voted 100% in favour of strike action. This was a move that was essential to preserve the terms of their working relationship and hold on to the hard fought clauses that we attained during a process that is now entering its 17th month.

On Dec. 13 every unresolved issue with the exception of sub-contracting, and one employee with a slight wage differential, had been agreed to. In fact, the union had agreed to the employer’s previous language on subcontracting presented in good faith during bargaining in August of this year.

Despite this, the employer drove forward with language and a thought pattern on subcontracting that would threaten our members job security and the well-being of their families.

This collective agreement is not about wages – it is about respect for rights in the workplace. Employees have even been willing to take concessions in their wages and the union structured a plan to tie future wage increases to the economy, a plan that both parties had agreed to during negotiations.

After everything these employees have been through this year, they don’t deserve this from CEDA Industrial Services. Especially around the holiday season.

Please show you support for our locked-out members as they wait for a fair collective agreement. Being locked out on the street is no way to start out 2017.

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