Union accuses Toronto of bad-faith bargaining

Union says city adding concessions; city says union adding ‘enhancements’
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 03/13/2012

The union representing Toronto’s inside workers is accusing the city of bargaining in bad faith.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79 said in a March 13 press release it had filed a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) over the weekend.

The city has added six more demands “to their long list of concessions,” according to the union’s release.

“Their move was completely outside the usual scope of our bargaining with the city,” CUPE Local 79 president Tim Maguire said.

The city claims the union is refusing to participate in meaningful discussions. The most recent offer from Local 79 includes 100 “enhancements,” including a ban on contracting out of work by its members, says Toronto Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday.

“The escalation in demands includes a further rollback to benefits on vision care, further deletion of scheduling by seniority for part-time employees, reduced hours for day program workers at long-term care facilities and the ability of the city to unilaterally change the hours of work for EMS employees,” a statement from Holyday reads. “Local 79s executive appears more interested in spoiling for a fight with the city than in negotiating new collective agreements.”

CUPE wants the OLRB to quash the city’s most recent concession demands.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour granted the city’s request for a “no-board report” on March 2, which opens the door to a potential lockout or strike as early as March 24.

The key issues in the dispute are believed to be job security and pay, as well as the so-called “jobs-for-life” provision, which was brought to attention to during talks with the city’s outside workers' union.

Local 79 represents 23,000 inside workers including civil servants, child care workers, ambulance dispatchers, caretakers and nurses and has been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2011. The two parties are currently in the conciliation process.

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