Campbellton – The Northern New Brunswick city locked in all its workers Tuesday morning, ensuring no one in the struggling coastal town can leave to seek employment elsewhere.
City officials and the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 76 could not reach an agreement after years of negotiation. The initial sticking points were surrounding wage increases and other benefits, but over the past decade have turned into simply wanting to get the hell out, at any cost.
“I’ve been looking online for months and found a job that pays awesome out in Alberta,” explained Alain Robichaud, 26, chained behind the counter at Tap’s Bar on Water Street. “You can make almost double bartending there, and now I’m stuck here for god knows how long,” he mourned, sadly wiping some spilled whiskey from the bar with a soiled J-Cloth.
Deputy Mayor Ian Comeau confirmed the lock-in started at 8 a.m. Tuesday, and has said negotiations will continue in an effort to get the unionized workers to stay in Campbellton forever, no matter what.
The Manatee found Comeau aimlessly standing around outside of the Pik Quik this morning. “We’ve been hit with hard times in this town, and the fact is, everyone wants to get out of here,” he said, addressing the few retirees who haven’t been trying to escape Campbellton, and the Pik Quik employee wearing a shock collar to prevent escape. “We built an arena to keep the youth here, and there’s UFC and Sugarloaf — what more do they want?”
The workers who are essentially quarantined in the city include staff from the public works department, police clerks, bartenders, grocery clerks, cooks, cleaners, and really anyone with a job who may have the motivation to seek an improved lifestyle pretty much anywhere else.
The city’s firefighters, an essential service, have been locked in as well, but will be let out of their cage in certain emergency situations, with a note from their retired parents. “You know, like if there’s a particularly cute kitten stuck in a tree, or a really bad fire at the Legion or something like that,” explained Comeau.
In the place of snow removal services, the city has contracted a company from Bathurst to use their plows to barricade all remaining Campbellton residents, numbered at about 750 now, inside for at least the duration of the winter. The Manatee asked the deputy mayor how the city will keep its residents inside Campbellton when the snow melts. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it … well … only figuratively, of course,” he said, referencing the former escape bridge to Pointe-à-la-Croix, Que., which has been destroyed.