Talks ongoing, but strike deadline approaching

City of Toronto unionized inside and outside workers are on the verge of a strike.

This comes after a deadlock in negotiations between the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the City of Toronto. Tim Maguire, president of CUPE Local 79, offered an assessment of the talks.

“While there has been some progress in some areas, (but) we still remain far apart on the key issues,” he said. “There has been no movement on the issue of reversing stability for many of our front-line workers.”

Job security and employee benefits remain the major outstanding issues at the bargaining table.

“Many of them (employees) are still waiting by the phone to find out when their next shift is, and with cuts that are on the table, our members would not know if they will have jobs in three months or in six weeks,” Maguire said.

CUPE Local 416 represents 5,400 outside workers, including garbage collectors and park staff, while CUPE Local 79 represents 23,100 inside workers, including social services workers and nurses.

On Thursday, both Locals announced that they submitted a joint proposal highlighting employee benefits. The city rejected this proposal in a news release noting that, “Benefit enhancements and restrictive language would curtail efficiency.”

Matt Alloway speaks for Local 416.

“We’re going to do whatever we can, and we will continue to avail ourselves to the city. We want to achieve a fair agreement for our members and if it takes going beyond that period, we’re willing to do that,” he said.

Coun. Janet Davis, a member of the Employee and Labour Relations Committee for the city, would like to see a fair negotiated settlement before it gets to that point.

“We want to keep good relationships,” she said. “Our city workers provide important services everyday and we need them on the job to continue to provide those services.”

The parties have until Feb. 19 at 12:01 a.m. to reach a settlement before CUPE Local 416 can legally go on strike, while CUPE Local 79 can do so one day later.