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TORONTO – The largest local union representing employees of the City of Toronto, says that the city wants to remove employment security language in union contracts because it is about to embark on the wholesale privatization of services.

City negotiators exchanged bargaining proposals with leaders of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79 yesterday (Thursday). The City of Toronto has proposed eliminating employment security language in union contracts; language that makes it difficult for the city to contract out and eliminate services such as parks and recreation, public health, water treatment, and homes for the aged.

Make no mistake about it, first city workers will lose their employment security, then the people of Toronto will lose quality, accountable city services,” says Ann Dembinski, the president of CUPE Local 79. “ The city is paving the way for alternative service delivery – a code phrase for privatization. Our contract language stands in the way of contracting out
services. ”

The City has proposed deleting a letter of understanding that says that permanent employees who have at least 10 years service shall not be laid off as a result of contracting out or privatization. “ Instead of rewarding thousands of loyal employees for their dedication, the city wants to be able to take away their jobs, ” says Dembinski. “ The public needs these services. We all rely on clean water and safe food. Public health nurses help new mothers. Parents rely on regulated child care centers. Our senior citizens get the best of care in our non-profit homes for the aged. City workers’ loyalty is to the people they work for – the citizens of Toronto. ”

CUPE is concerned that privatization leads to a loss of political accountability. “ What did we elect our councillors to do? ” says Dembinski. “ They have an obligation to run this city, and that includes providing publicly delivered, non-profit services. When they choose privatization they abandon that responsibility. ”

We will fight to protect the jobs of all our members, whether they have worked for the city for one day or for thirty years. We will not allow the city to erode our union contracts, ” says Dembinski. “ There will be no concessions. ”


Ann Dembinski: 416-977-1629 or
Shannon McManus, Communications Officer,
416-292-3999 or 416-766-3252