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The City of Toronto appears to be marching its outside workers toward a strike beginning June 22, says Mark Ferguson, president of Toronto Civic Employees Union Local 416 CUPE.

We have been at the bargaining table for five months,” Ferguson said at a news conference today. “We have reached very little agreement in that time.”

Local 416, whose members include more than 6,000 men and women working in Toronto EMS, solid waste, water and wastewater treatment, animal services, parks and recreation, transportation and other services, is launching a newspaper and radio ad campaign to take that message to the public.

Early on in negotiations, the city put more than 100 pages of concessions on the table,” Ferguson said. “Today, those concessions are still sitting on the table. We have offered alternatives that we believe would give the city some of the efficiencies it is seeking. We’d hoped the city would demonstrate an appetite to work with us toward solutions, but they have barely moved in five months.” 

The Local 416 bargaining team is frustrated by the lack of progress and the city’s inability to move off its unrealistic package of proposals, he said. Instead of trying to rewrite the entire collective agreement in a way that would resurrect a bitter labour relations climate, the city should get serious and focus on key issues in order to reach a settlement before the strike/lockout deadline.

If the people of Toronto are forced to endure a strike this summer, it won’t be for lack of effort on our part,” Ferguson said. “Local 416 members work seven days a week, 24 hours a day to keep our city clean, safe, healthy and beautiful for everyone who lives and works here. It’s time for the city to do its job and work with us at the bargaining table to negotiate a fair collective agreement.”