TORONTO — 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.”
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.”
Minnan-Wong has said that the city sought to “mitigate” the impact of the provision by negotiating an end date, after which point employees who hit the seniority threshold will no longer be provided with the protection. He said that the unions are treating that end date, which came with the expiration of the last collective agreement on Dec. 31, as a “rolling date” despite the fact that the city has made it “crystal clear” that it is a “firm date.”
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.