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Last minute holiday shoppers should be prepared for parking chaos unless 300 Toronto Parking Authority employees are able to achieve a fair collective agreement before December 20.

The members of the Toronto Civic Employees Union, CUPE Local 416, yesterday voted 80% in favour of giving their bargaining committee a strike mandate.  They will be in a legal strike or lockout position at 12:01 a.m., Saturday, December 20.

This round of bargaining is all about fairness,” said Local 416 President Mark Ferguson.  When a small group of enforcement and collections workers formerly classified as management were brought into the bargaining unit through arbitrators’ rulings, the union discovered that “management” was paid much more in both wages and benefits.  Harmonization of both is an issue in negotiations.  But, the union is also going to bat for student workers.

Almost half of Toronto Parking Authority workers are students,” Ferguson said. “Many work from high school right through college or university, but have absolutely nothing in terms of benefits or cash in lieu of benefits.  It’s time their working conditions were improved.”

Job security is the other key issue.  Earlier this year, the mayor’s blue-ribbon panel included the Toronto Parking Authority in its recommendation that the city review its assets with the intent to “monetize” operations or otherwise maximize financial returns.  While the city has not yet moved in this direction, the union is looking for job security provisions for its members.

The parties are tentatively scheduled to return to mediation on December 18 and 19.