More than 35,000 union workers at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) are threatening to go on strike this tax season, their busiest time of the year, after requesting a three-year pay raise adding up to nearly 30%.

The union and the CRA have been negotiating about worker contracts for a year. This month, negotiations included a threat of a worker strike, allegations of bad-faith bargaining, and a walk-out from the negotiating table.

The Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) said they would launch a strike vote after requesting a 14-month backdated pay raise of 4.5%, a 2-month backdated pay raise of 8%, and a future pay raise of 8%.

The UTE also asked for a one-time pay increase of 9%, though it is unclear at what date the raise would take effect.

SaltWire reported last week that UTE national president Marc Brière explained the wage requests simply.

“We want to keep up with inflation,” he said.

The UTE and CRA have been bargaining about worker contracts for roughly a year. 

Negotiations broke down this December when the UTE walked away from the bargaining table, saying it could not fulfill a request from the CRA: the request that workers return to the office. 

“The government is trying to impose a flawed hybrid work plan,” the UTE wrote. “Forcing workers to scramble to make child care arrangements and potentially relocate if they’ve been working remotely.” 

The union next announced plans to launch a strike vote among its workers. If passed, the vote would lead union workers to walk off the job. A UTE statement said the vote would begin on January 31st.

CRA responded by filing a complaint.

The Canada Revenue Agency alleged the UTE was not bargaining in good-faith, which would be a violation of guidelines laid out in the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act.

“UTE has clearly stated its intention to move to a strike position as soon as possible […] in a manner that would impact the CRA’s tax filing season, without first engaging in good faith bargaining,” the CRA statement wrote.

The CRA asked a judiciary board to direct the union back to the bargaining table. Before the union can declare a strike, said the CRA, the union should have to make every reasonable effort to find a collective agreement.

When speaking to the Daily Hive two weeks ago, UTE National President Marc Brière said workers are prepared to take the nuclear option. 

“If they don’t take us seriously, unfortunately, we will have no choice but to shut down the CRA on the first occasion, including the tax season.”

If initiated, the strike vote would begin January 31 and end on April 7.