Fredericton drivers honked and gave the thumbs up to the CUPE NB picket on Main Street all day on Monday, Nov. 1. Vehicle horns blared constantly from the picket starting early morning until darkness fell. More than 100 CUPE members were stationed on both sides of Fredericton’s busiest city centre street for half a kilometre.
Monday was the fourth day of the strike.
Caitlin Munn and Stephanie Benson exchanged waves and thumbs up with drivers from the corner of Wallace and Main. Both pharmacy technicians are members of CUPE local 908. “I’m here in support of our union. In the last 10 years, costs have gone up, up, up in the city, and our wages have not gone up, or 0.1 percent here, 0.5 percent there, it’s not enough,” said Munn.
Across the street, social workers from CUPE 1418 were stationed on several corners, with Lady Gaga blaring from speakers along with the vehicle horns.
Melinda Warren was picket captain for the local 1418 group of social workers on the line. She explained that her members have been more than four years without a contract. The serious recruitment and retention issues are harming the delivery of services, she said, adding that “the government needs to get back to the table.”
Warren explained she stepped up to her picket captain role to get more union experience. She had been a CUPE member for a while before getting active with her union about three years ago. “Our members have been pumped for this strike since day one,” Warren said. “There’s a group always doing the wave and dancing, they’re really motivated.
Another picket captain on Main Street, Liane Kean, is an educational assistant with CUPE 2745. Kean has been a full-time EA for about five years. “I’m on the picket line because I would like to see some of our requests met, because nothing seems to be happening” she said.
The strike will continue across the province on Tuesday.
Access all of NB Media Co-op’s coverage of the CUPE strike here.
Read all about the the events leading up to the strike here.
Susan O’Donnell writes for the NB Media Co-op.