'We don't want to strike:' Outside workers union says it has put forward proposal that provides 'pathway to deal'
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Monday, February 24, 2020 5:10PM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 24, 2020 11:47PM EST
The union representing approximately 5,000 of the city’s outside workers says that it has put forward a proposal that it believes “provides a pathway to a deal.”
CUPE Local 416 President Eddie Mariconda did not provide specific details about the proposal during a news conference on Monday afternoon but told reporters that he believes it is “affordable” to taxpayers and addresses “most” of the city’s concerns.
The tabling of the proposal comes ahead of a Feb. 27 deadline when the city and the union will both be in a legal strike/lockout position. That deadline stems from the city’s decision to request a no board report from the Ministry of Labour earlier this month, effectively starting the countdown to a potential work stoppage.
“We want to resolve this issue. We don’t want to strike, we don’t want there to be a stoppage but if there is it will be directly the result of the mayor wanting the stoppage,” Mariconda said. “We believe there is a pathway to a deal. Now it is up to the city to decide whether they want that deal or they don’t.”
Tory says union agreed to sunset clause on ‘jobs for life’
The chair of the city’s bargaining committee, Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, has previously accused both unions representing city workers – CUPE 416 and CUPE 79 – of seeking to extend a job security provision that he has dubbed “jobs for life.”
The provision states that any employee with 15 years of seniority cannot lose their employment “as a result of contracting out or privatization.”
Speaking with reporters at a news conference late Monday afternoon, Mayor John Tory said that union leadership agreed to a “fixed sunset clause” four years ago, which meant that all employees with less than 15 years seniority as of Dec. 31, 2019 would no longer qualify for protection under the clause.
He said that the city “is not asking for anything different or jobs for life, just to keep with what was agreed to and what was ratified by the membership of CUPE 416 four years ago.”
“We have made it clear to the bargaining team that we will not be going backwards on jobs for life,” he said.
Tory said the jobs for life provision “keeps the city from being flexible and modernizing to serve our residents in the best way possible.”
He said that the sunset clause negotiated four years ago was a “historic step forward for the city and its ability to run a modern, efficient government.”
Mariconda, however, said that CUPE 416 never agreed to phase out the clause, which he said comes at no cost to the city.
“The mayor is pulling a bait and switch by removing this clause, a clause that has been supported by this city for decades,” he said. “Why is this mayor choosing to abandon his commitments to the employees of the city, employees that the residents of Toronto depend on each and every day?”
CUPE 416 represents the city’s 5,000 outside workers, including snowplow operators, paramedics, garbage collectors, and park staff.
The city has said that if there is a work stoppage involving the union garbage collection east of Yonge Street will be suspended and recreation centres will be shuttered.