City's inside workers give bargaining team strike mandate
RCAF aircraft fly past City Hall during a ceremony in which the Royal Canadian Air Force were presented with new ceremonial flags in Toronto on Friday, September 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Monday, January 20, 2020 2:29PM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 20, 2020 2:40PM EST
The union representing about 20,000 of the city’s inside workers now has a strike mandate but only in the event that ongoing negotiations with the city fail to make any headway.
CUPE 79 has announced that members turned out in “historic numbers” and voted 90 per cent in favour of giving their bargaining team a strike mandate last week
Negotiations, however, are expected to continue without any job action being taken for now.
“City workers are expecting a contract that is fair and recognizes their hard work," CUPE 79 President Dave Mitchell said in a press release. "Our members took big hits in their last two contracts and this vote gives a clear signal that they won't stand for more — they've had enough.”
CUPE 79 represents public health nurses, child care workers, court services staff, ambulance dispatchers, social service employees and long-term care home workers, among others.
Talks between the city and CUPE 79 have been ongoing since December but so far have not led to a new collective agreement to replace the one that expired at the end of 2019.
In the press release, Mitchell said that the vote proves that members are “united.”
In 2016, members of CUPE 79 began a work-to-rule campaign amid a deadlock with the city but reached a deal on a new collective agreement 10 days later, staving off any further job action.
“We’re united and determined to negotiate a contract that recognizes our members’ dedication to delivering high quality services to Toronto’s communities,” Mitchell said in the press release on Monday.
The city is also involved in negotiations with its outside workers union, CUPE 416.
Last week, the chair of the city’s collective bargaining subcommittee Denzil Minnan-Wong revealed that a request has been made to the province for a conciliator in those talks.
Minnan-Wong said that the request was made after CUPE Local 416 “issued dates for a strike vote in January.”