TORONTO – City of Toronto employees voted overwhelmingly yesterday (Sunday) to give their bargaining team a mandate to call a strike if they are unable to negotiate a satisfactory contract.
The workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79, voted 87.5 per cent in favour of the mandate. CUPE Local 79 represents 17,000 city workers including public health nurses, nurses in homes for the aged, city planners, hostel employees, bylaw inspectors, ambulance dispatchers, child care workers, water and sewage treatment employees, parks and recreation employees, and many others.
“The turnout for this vote was unprecedented,” says Ann Dembinski, the president of CUPE Local 79. “Thousands of union members voted. The high turnout and the strong strike vote show how concerned city workers are about their future and the future of city services.”
CUPE Local 79 went on strike two years ago. “We are doing everything we can to achieve an agreement,” says Dembinski. “We do not want to go on strike, but we want to be prepared in case it proves necessary. The city wants to take away our employment security provision so they can quickly eliminate and contract out as many city services as possible. We have to stop them.
“Privatizing services will hurt everyone. Public service delivery means more accountability, better safety, and higher standards because no one is lining their pockets at the taxpayer’s expense.”
CUPE Local 79 and the City of Toronto are now in the conciliation stage of negotiating a collective agreement. At any time during conciliation, either party can apply for a “no board” report, which starts the countdown to a strike or lockout deadline.
Contact: Shannon McManus, CUPE Communications:
416-292-3999 ext. 222