Thousands of Toronto's outside workers, which includes those who collect garbage, plow snow, and fix potholes, could soon be off the job if an agreement can't be reached later this month between the City of Toronto and the union that represents the city's civic employees.
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On Tuesday, the city received a 'No Board Report' from the Ministry of Labour for Toronto Civic Employees Union Local 416 — CUPE (CUPE 416), setting the legal strike/lockout deadline for 12:01 am on February 27.
The union, which represents some 5000 workers, has been trying to reach an agreement with the city for over four months, which included five days of negotiations with the assistance of a provincially appointed conciliation officer.
During discussions, the union has been trying to renegotiate its now-expired collective agreement with the city, which expired at the end of last year.
“Our job security language, like our entire contract, expired on December 31, 2019. That means the whole contract is up for negotiation," said Eddie Mariconda, President of CUPE Local 416, about the City’s bargaining communication.
"At the end of the day renewing our job security language costs the city nothing. On benefits, the city saved $18 million in one year after they switched benefit providers, they don’t need to go back on what was previously agreed to in order to find savings," Mariconda continued.
"Our contract is affordable and sustainable, and we provide world-class services to the people of Toronto."
While the parties have been able to reach an agreement on a number of issues, the city says they are still negotiating job security, parental leave, benefits, and wages.
“Despite our best efforts to reach an agreement that is fair to our valued employees and affordable for the residents and taxpayers of the city, we have been unable to do so,” the city said in a written statement.
“The city of Toronto remains committed to negotiating a collective agreement that is fair and affordable and will continue to engage with the union to achieve that goal.”
Both parties say they want to reach a settlement before the provincially-mandated strike/lockout deadline hits. However, in the event of a strike, the city says it "has a contingency plan in place," and that the plan will be released "in the coming days."