City of Toronto employees have voted to reject two of the four contract offers presented by the City’s negotiators. The union’s Bargaining Committee decided to present the City’s final offers directly to a membership vote, without making any recommendation to accept or reject.
Members of Local 79 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees working in the Full-time and Part-time Unit B bargaining units ratified the City’s offers, which will now form the new collective agreements for those employees. Members of the Recreation Workers Part-time and Long Term Care Homes and Services bargaining units voted Wednesday to reject the City’s offers.
“Members cast their votes with eyes wide open, both about the final offers, and the aggressive attack this administration continues to wage on workers and the services they provide,” said Tim Maguire, president of Local 79. “Some of them decided to live with this offer, but for some the cost was too great.”
Recreation Workers Part-time may have rejected the offer because of the City’s attack on members using years of service to secure more predictable hours of work. The unit suffered a blow recently from an arbitrator’s award harmonizing recreation services that resulted in pay decreases, less hours, and less recognition of expertise for some members of the unit.
A key issue in the City’s offer that influenced the vote in Long-term Care Homes and Services was a reduction of hours and unresolved scheduling problems.
Maguire said both sides must now return to the bargaining table to reach a deal that will be fair to the workers who rejected their offers. “We played our part by bringing these offers to a vote. The onus is now on the City negotiators to return to the bargaining table and reach a fair deal members can accept.”
Long Term Care Homes and Services are considered an essential service. Outstanding issues in the negotiations will go to binding interest arbitration and the City cannot legally impose new terms and conditions of employment on the members. Recreation Workers Part-time are vulnerable to city-imposed lock-outs or terms and conditions of work.
“The City must review its options carefully and act to support the services people depend on,” stated Maguire, “the Local has the mandate it needs to protect its workers in the face of an unprecedented attack by the employer.”
Local 79 represents 23,000 City of Toronto employees in four separate bargaining units.