Toronto, outside workers union reach tentative agreement

‘Jobs for life’ clause limited to employees with more than 22 years’ service
||Last Updated: 02/14/2012

The City of Toronto and the union representing its 6,000 outside workers reached a tentative agreement on Feb. 5, narrowly avoiding a labour disruption that would have affected garbage collection and other city services.

UPDATE: Toronto outside workers ratify new contract

The union was in a legal strike position as of midnight, with the city having the option to lock out the workers, as well.

Both parties were pleased with the outcome of the all-night bargaining session.

“We are extremely excited we were able to resolve this through direct negotiations, and, quite frankly, my members are pleased that they will be able to continue to provide great public services to Toronto,” Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 416 president Mark Ferguson said.

“I’m pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement that is fair for the employees and reasonable and affordable for the taxpayers of Toronto,” said Toronto Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday. “Better yet, we will be better positioned to deliver efficient services to the residents and businesses of Toronto.”

The dispute between Toronto and CUPE Local 416 was heated at times with the union accusing Mayor Rob Ford of attempting to gut the current collective agreement, and city officials saying major concessions needed to be made given the current economic state.

One of the major sticking points in the dispute was the “jobs for life” clause, which protected unionized workers from job loss indefinitely. Originally, it was reported the city’s bargaining team wanted to scrap the clause altogether. However, in the offer the city made public on Feb. 3, the clause was amended by limiting the number of employees who can’t lose their jobs because of contracting out or technological change to those with 22 years’ seniority.

Other items included in the offer are as follows:

• Lump-sum payments in the first three years:
1.25 per cent in the first year
        • 1.5 per cent in the second year
        • 1.75 per cent in the third year
• Overall wage increase of 1.75 per cent in the fourth year
• Employees who are bumped to a lower pay grid, will keep the higher pay rate for 18 months, instead of the current 30 months
• Health plan will now cover 95 per cent of drug costs, instead of the current 100 per cent, subject to an out-of-pocket maximum of $500 per person
• The city will no longer be responsible for the collection of union dues

The details listed above are from an offer made by the City of Toronto on Feb. 3. The official final version of the agreement will not be released until after the agreement is ratified.

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