Following a marathon day of bargaining in which some progress was made, negotiators for CUPE 1600 will return to the table this morning in an effort to conclude negotiations with the Toronto Zoo before a midnight lockout or strike deadline.

“While we have been able to resolve some issues with the Zoo, we haven’t made enough progress and I am concerned about our ability to conclude negotiations before the deadline,” said Christine McKenzie, President of CUPE 1600.

Although negotiators have made progress on some issues, there has been no movement on several issues the union considers critical, including changes proposed by the Zoo that would greatly diminish workers’ employment security and give the Zoo more power to contract out work.

“Any efforts by the Zoo to weaken workers’ job security and contracting out language are non‑starters,” warned McKenzie.

“Our members were very clear when they voted unanimously to give our bargaining committee a strike mandate if they felt it was necessary—weakening their job security and contracting out language is bad for our community, bad for the Zoo and, most importantly, it will be bad for the animals,” she added.

McKenzie said the union will continue to bargain straight through to tonight’s midnight deadline and would consider bargaining past the deadline, provided progress is being made towards a settlement.

“However, that requires both sides to be at the table with a clear commitment to negotiating a fair deal both sides can live with. Ultimately, that decision will hinge on what level of commitment to achieving a settlement we see from the Zoo throughout the day,” she said.

CUPE 1600 represents more than 400 zookeepers, horticulturists, trades people, maintenance, administration and public relations staff, concession and ride operators at Canada’s largest zoo.