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TORONTO, Ont. – Frustrated with the lack of progress in negotiations with the City of Toronto, the Toronto Civic Employees Union, Local 416 – CUPE, representing 6,000 outside workers, asked the Minister of Labour to issue a “no board” report, starting a 17-day countdown to a legal strike/lockout deadline. Local 416 expects to be in a legal strike position on or about Friday, July 8, 2005.

We have been in conciliation for over 80 days, and we have been unable to reach an agreement with city negotiators,” said Brian Cochrane, Local 416 president. “We will do everything possible to avert a strike at the bargaining table, but city negotiators will have to change their approach and take bargaining seriously in order to reach a settlement without a strike. Regrettably, the city has so far refused to settle any of the significant issues that concern the union and its members.”

The workers’ last collective agreement expired on December 31, 2004. In 2002, the parties were not able to reach a settlement during contract negotiations and there was a 16-day strike.

Local 416 represents 9,000 workers in Toronto, including water/wastewater workers, paramedics (EMS), solid waste workers, parks and recreation workers, corporate services and transportation workers, library, housing and Toronto Parking Authority workers. Local 416 has already reached collective agreements with the Parking Authority and Enwave energy services.

Our members work hard for the city and we’ve been working with an expired contract for over half a year now – it’s time for city negotiators to offer us a fair contract settlement,” said Cochrane. “It’s important for the city to show goodwill and give direction to management’s negotiating team to reach a settlement.”

Outstanding issues include such non-monetary items as union security, lay-off and recall, job content, service and seniority, hours of work and pension issues, work of the bargaining unit, and all monetary issues. “There are a large number of non-monetary issues that remain to be settled that wouldn’t cost the city a nickel – it would be ridiculous to subject Toronto residents to another work stoppage because city negotiators refuse to address the non-monetary issues in a reasonable way,” said Cochrane. “That’s one of the reasons we felt compelled to start the countdown to a strike – we hope it will break the logjam.”

“We will do everything we can to reach a negotiated settlement, but this round of negotiations has become reminiscent of the 2002 talks that ended in a strike,” added Cochrane. “As we begin preparations for a strike this round, we urge city negotiators to take advantage of the next couple of weeks to put together a fair deal to allow Toronto residents to enjoy the summer without losing municipal services like garbage, water, ambulance and other important services.”

CUPE represents over half a million working women and men in Canada, many of whom work in the municipal, school board, health care and university sectors.

For further information, please contact:
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications 416-292-3999, ext. 216 (voicemail) or 416-727-9144 (cell)