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2012 lockout/strike in the media
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2012 lockout/strike in the media (4)

January 31 - February 6 03-Feb-2012 [1006]

From the Star, Feb 6, 2012

City’s unions eye Local 416 deal

The library union and CUPE locals 79 and 2998 are all operating under recently expired contracts.

Bargaining is underway for the Toronto Public Library Workers Union and inside workers Local 79, both of which have applied for a provincial conciliator. Local 2998, which represents community centre workers, will begin negotiations in two weeks.


Local 416 president Mark Ferguson said the deal contains numerous concessions and “sacrifices.”

One source confirmed rumours that one such concession involved a new threshold for seniority rights. The union was asking for five years. The city wanted 22. It appears a compromise was reached at 15.

The complete article

From the national Post, Feb 6, 2012

Toronto’s deal with union takes ‘handcuffs’ off management: Denzil Minnan-Wong

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Don Valley East) said the agreement “takes off many of the handcuffs that management had in terms of running the city.”

Though an agreement has been reached in principle, the two sides were still at work Monday to convert it into specific contractual language before the deal goes to a vote. That could add days or even weeks more to the process, said CUPE spokesman Cim Nunn.

“What we did on Sunday morning was agree on a tentative conceptual framework,” he said, noting he ultimately expects members to ratify the deal rather than move toward a strike vote. “Now we begin the process of… putting flesh on the bones of the verbal agreement.”

the complete article

From CBC News February 5, 2012:

Toronto, union reach tentative contract deal

Ford hails 'fantastic day' for taxpayers

The City of Toronto and the union representing 6,000 of its outside workers have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract that averts a work stoppage.

Mark Ferguson, president of CUPE local 416, who informed reporters of the deal at a Sunday news conference, called the contract talks "one of the toughest labour negotiations in Canadian history."

The city had earlier said it would impose terms of its latest contract offer if there was no deal by 12:01 a.m. Sunday, setting up the prospect of a lockout or strike. But the deadline was extended as talks continued into the morning.

The complete article

From the Star February 4, 2012:

CUPE hopeful late-hour talks will avoid Toronto labour disruption

Union officials remained hopeful Saturday night that a new collective agreement for 6,000 city workers could be reached through negotiations.

If not, Mayor Rob Ford’s administration said it would impose new terms and conditions that would essentially force the outside workers to accept the city’s offer or go on strike.

As the clocked ticked down to a 12:01 a.m. deadline Sunday, CUPE 416 representatives said both the union and the city were interested in reaching a deal.

“It’s a very hopeful sign that they’ve been in the room together with the employer for most of the day,” said CUPE spokesman Cim Nunn. “They have been actively bargaining.”

Speaking several hours before the final deadline, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said it’s possible talks could continue past midnight if it’s clear a deal is in sight.

The complete article

From the Star February 3, 2012:

Take new deal or we’ll impose it, city tells workers

The Mayor Rob Ford administration has an ultimatum for 6,000 city workers — surrender almost all job security and more, or have the concessions imposed anyway at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

The threat — extremely unusual in the public sector and regarded as a way to get workers to accept an offer or force them to go on strike — seems to remove any chance of the city locking out the outside workers this weekend.

Bruce Anderson, the city’s head of human resources, told reporters Friday the demands were tabled Thursday night after months of bargaining to replace the contract with Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 416.

The complete article

From the Star February 2, 2012:

Toronto labour fight: As lockout date looms, CUPE reports ‘significant progress’

Less than 72 hours before a lockout or strike becomes legal, the leader of the union representing Toronto’s outdoor municipal workers is reporting “significant progress toward successfully concluding an agreement.”

Mark Ferguson, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 416, made the optimistic assessment in a written statement Thursday afternoon.


"Negotiations on a collective agreement between our union and the city have reached a sensitive stage,” Ferguson said in the statement, “and we are making significant progress toward successfully concluding an agreement. We prefer for the remainder of the day to refrain from media comment that may compromise that progress.”

The complete article

From February 1, 2012:

Union exaggerating progress in talks: Holyday

The city and a union representing 6,000 of its municipal workers are making progress in a last ditch effort to prevent a strike or lockout, but just how much depends on who you ask.

In a written statement released Thursday afternoon CUPE 416 president Mark Ferguson said "significant progress toward successfully concluding an agreement" has been made, but hours later Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday poured cold water on Ferguson's optimism.

"We are not quite as optimistic as Mr. Ferguson is," Holyday said. "However, there is 48 hours until any deadline is reached, both sides are at the table and through hard work and negotiations we think we can come up with an agreement."

"Negotiations are funny things," Holyday continued. "They take place over long periods of time and sometimes you can reach a conclusion by a certain deadline and that's why the pressure points are there, but sometimes you can't."

... "Stay at the table, roll up your sleeves, work hard 24 hours a day if you have to," Holyday said in a direct appeal to Ferguson Thursday. "But for the benefit of your own members, and certainly the taxpayers, stay at the table and get a deal."


If progress is being made at the table any decision to lockout workers would likely be delayed, Holyday added.

"It will be up to our negotiators, but I am sure that if enough progress is being made they'll keep talking," he said.

The complete article

From CBC News February 1, 2012:

Lockout 'could happen,' says deputy mayor

As a Sunday deadline approaches, Toronto's deputy mayor says it's time for the city's outside workers to get down to business and negotiate a new contract.

In an interview on Metro Morning, Doug Holyday said the threat of a lockout is not off the table, if CUPE 416 fails to reach agreement on a new contract by Feb. 5.

"That's one of the things that could happen. I can't say for certain what's going to happen at that time," he said.

... "There's a lot of things in this contract that are wrong that have to be corrected," Holyday said.


Earlier in the week Holyday seemed to suggest that the city would not force the issue when the midnight deadline passed. Now he's not willing to be so definite.

"Although I thought, perhaps, we would get by the deadline without a problem, unless they're willing to talk at the table that's not going to be the case."

Holyday said the two sides are "marginally" closer to a settlement but that the union needs "to that table and get down to serious talks."


CUPE 416 president Mark Ferguson was also interviewed on the Metro Morning.

Ferguson said the negotiations had been "difficult" but he added, "the progress that has been made, specifically this week, bodes well for the bargaining process."

The complete article

From February 2, 2012:

Union optimistic as talks reach 'sensitive stage'

Negotiations between the City of Toronto and a union representing 6,000 outside workers continued to show progress as the union declined to publicly discuss the matter during a "sensitive stage" in contract talks on Thursday.

"Negotiations on a collective agreement between our union and the City have reached a sensitive stage, and we are making significant progress toward successfully concluding an agreement," CUPE Local 416 President Mark Ferguson said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

"We prefer for the remainder of the day to refrain from media comment that may compromise that progress."

The complete article

From the Star February 1, 2012:

City offers union workers annual raises, while seeking concessions

City negotiators are urging unionized workers to accept a pay hike in each year of a proposed four-year deal.

The 6,000 outside workers in Local 416 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees had said they would accept a three-year wage freeze in return for preserving the existing contract conditions.

In offering an undisclosed pay hike, the city would presumably want a contract concession from the union.

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, chair of council’s employee and labour relations committee, said it’s time the union tabled detailed responses to the city’s proposals as a weekend strike/lockout deadline looms.


“And if they don’t do that, the clock is ticking and I couldn’t guess what would happen.”

However, union president Mark Ferguson said the city has rejected its proposals to increase productivity of paramedics and make it easier for laid-off workers to be redeployed.

Ferguson said the union is prepared to continue bargaining right through to the deadline of 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

Meantime, while the union offers to freeze workers’ wages, city councillors quietly received a 2-per-cent increase in their 2012 pay, bringing their salary to $101,611.


The city has developed contingency plans in case of a labour disruption, but details on what the public can expect are being withheld for now in the hopes of achieving a negotiated settlement.

“We will give as much notice as we possibly can, but we’re not hoping to have any kind of disruption at all,” Holyday said. “That’s never been our intent.”


After the committee met, Holyday said city negotiators were granted permission for “slight adjustments, something they’d like to present at the table.”

“We’ve given them instructions to do several things but we’re not really at liberty to broadcast that publicly,” he said.

“It’s time that we became more efficient here and that our contracts were more reasonable and allowed our managers to manage, and that’s all we really want.”

The complete article

From the Toronto Sun February 1, 2012 (Sue-Anne Levy opinion column):

Holyday to Ferguson: Let's talk

They say they’d rather talk than walk (off the job) but with just three days to go until the lockout deadline, reports are that CUPE 416 president Mark Ferguson has refused to address any of the city’s key proposals.

“Everytime we make a little movement (on these issues), Dr. No comes in and doesn’t want to talk about them,” deputy mayor Doug Holyday said of Ferguson, who earned that nickname because “No” is the only comment he has on the city’s serious requests.


It isn’t too much of stretch either to say all CUPE eyes are on these negotiations -- as Toronto’s lavish contracts with its 30,000 inside and outside workers have formed a template for many municipalities right across Canada.

There are, in fact, two national CUPE reps (over and above the six 416 representatives) at the bargaining table.

But sources also say Dr. No may soon discover that unless he comes to grip with reality, the city could impose “terms and conditions” of a new contract.

In that case, no lockout would occur. It would be up to Ferguson and his 6,000 guys and gals to decide whether to either walk off the job, or impose “work to rule” efforts.


Negotiators for CUPE 79, which represents the vast majority of the city’s unionized workers, are still at the table. A no-board report has not yet been requested.

Nevertheless, what will it take for Dr. No and his CUPE brass to realize that public sympathy is not with them. It is not just the hangover from the 39-day strike in the summer of 2009, as Ferguson has alleged.

The fact is, their wages and benefits are completely out of whack with the private sector.


The jobs for life clause -- which former Mayor David Miller extended to ALL permanent CUPE employees in 2005 -- demands that the city give any unionized employee whose job is contracted out work of equal value, no matter how long it takes.

That means unless the city is willing to allow employees to sit twiddling their thumbs in a work yard somewhere until another union job is found, there’s very little room for competition.

Shifts cannot be changed to alternate hours and workers moved to another location -- as demands require -- without a laborious union process. If not enough notice is given, employees are entitled to be paid 1 1/2 times for working a revised shift.

Shift premiums of more than $1 per hour are paid for those employees who work the afternoon or evening shifts both weekdays and on weekends.

Then there’s the elaborate bumping provisions dictating that a permanent employee who displaces one in a more junior position must be paid the more senior wage rate for three years -- five if the employee is nearing retirement.

The complete article

From the Star February 1, 2012 (comment piece by CUPE local 416 president Mark Ferguson):

City of Toronto rejects give and take bargaining

Toronto’s 6,800 “outside workers” of Toronto Civic Employees’ Union, CUPE local 416 — one of four locals representing the 30,000 municipal employees in contract talks — are faced with a potential lockout as early as Sunday morning. Or, with their contract expired, they could still report on Monday but find their workplace conditions changed so radically that they’re prevented from delivering the services we need.

Our members aren’t seeking any major gains to our contract. We just want to keep working, and we share people’s concern over what will happen to services if we aren’t allowed to do so. But we’re also hopeful that there is still time — for the employer, the public and our members — to reflect on the importance of that work and how it gets done.

When more than 1,000 positions were lost during the budget, it put to rest any speculation about “jobs for life” at city hall. And it emphasized how public programs delivered by experienced people make Toronto what it is.

That’s why we’ve offered a three-year wage freeze, freeing up $25 million for services Toronto residents depend on. It’s why we have proposed ways to improve shift schedules. It’s why we have tabled a way to make redeployment of staff when positions are eliminated more efficient for everyone.

Our contract protects workers in the case of job deletion, but this doesn’t tie the employer’s hands. The city still sets staffing levels. It can still choose to stop offering certain services. And there would be layoffs. Management would simply have to allow for seniority — which is actually very common. Most of CUPE’s 250 municipal bargaining units across Canada contain similar protections.

This has been called “job security,” but really, it’s employment security. No one owns their job. They just remain available to put their experience to work where needed.

The complete article

From the Star January 31, 2012:

CUPE welcomes some “progress” in talks with city

There are signs of progress in talks between the city and CUPE Local 416, although the two sides remain “a good distance apart,” as a work stoppage looms as early as Sunday.

“We’ve been making some good progress on some of the city’s priorities involving the redeployment process,” Mark Ferguson, president of Local 416, said Tuesday.

“That is, ensuring the most senior, highly qualified personnel remain working in the case of any downsizing and the junior personnel are laid off.”

However, Ferguson expressed concern that Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, chair of the city’s labour relations committee, and Robert Reynolds, the city’s chief negotiator, are not on the same page.

Ferguson welcomed a pledge from Holyday Monday that the city won’t lock out the local’s 6,000 members this weekend. But when this claim was posed to Reynolds, Ferguson said the chief negotiator told him if no deal was in place by Sunday, a decision would be made then. “We are frustrated by the constant shifting sands,” Ferguson said.

Holyday, who does not sit in on the negotiations, said Tuesday his comments expressed his own view.

The complete article