About 24,000 City of Toronto workers, members of CUPE Local 79 and Toronto Civic Employees Union (TCEU) CUPE Local 416, are being asked to participate in strike votes as part of their fight against concession demands from the city.
“We have been at the bargaining table for almost five months and the city’s negotiators have not budged on 118 pages of concessions that they put on our table,” said Local 416 President Mark Ferguson. “They are trying to gut our collective agreement and are using the recession as an excuse.”
In reality, he said, most of the concessions the city has proposed do not cost money. But, they do contribute to healthy, fair and transparent workplace relationships between workers and managers.
“We have worked for years to get contract language that respects our members and recognizes their experience and dedication,” said Ann Dembinski, president of Local 79, whose four collective agreements with the city include municipal homes for the aged. “Yet the city wants to turn back the clock. Their lack of respect shows in the fact that we have been talking for the last month and have made virtually no progress.”
Monetary issues such as wages are not yet part of the ongoing talks.
“It is in the best interest of Toronto residents and our members to get these talks moving and reach a negotiated fair settlement,” Dembinski said.
“The services our members provide are one of the best bargains Toronto residents will ever get,” added Ferguson. “It’s time for the city’s negotiators to recognize that, to stop trying to take away what we have managed to gain through negotiations, a strike in 2002 and rulings by independent arbitrators.”
TCEU CUPE Local 416 members will vote on Tuesday, May 19 and Wednesday, May 20. Local 79 members will vote on Sunday, May 24.