CUPE hoping to unionize GFL trash collectors in Toronto

CUPE Local 416 president pleased with response from staff so far
||Last Updated: 09/26/2012

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is looking to add curbside waste collectors who work for a private contractor to its list of union members.

CUPE Local 416 president Mark Ferguson told the Toronto Star the union has been handing out union cards at Green for Life (GFL) Environmental Corp. locations in Toronto and York Region since August.

“We’re working both in Toronto and York to ensure that those employees are treated with respect — that they earn a living wage and that they do have some semblance of benefits and retirement security,” he told the Star. “I think most Torontonians would like to see that city employees, and those employees of companies that do work for the city, are treated fairly.”

In order to qualify for a Ministry of Labour-supervised vote, a union must get signed union cards from at least 40 per cent of workplace staff. Ferguson did not specify how many signed cards he received, but expressed he was pleased with the number so far.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong told the Star it doesn’t matter much whether or not those workers become unionized, since the city has a contract with GFL with fixed prices for seven years.

“If in seven or eight years we put the contract out for tender again, GFL would have to compete with other private contractors and the lowest bid would win,” he told the Star. “If the members choose to certify, we will negotiate a collective agreement. If they don’t choose to certify, then they don’t certify. We don’t control the workers — they’re free to join a union or not.”

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