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2012 lockout/strike in the media
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January 16 - January 23 17-Jan-2012 
Part of 2012 lockout/strike in the media
From the Toronto Sun January 23, 2012:
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday called CUPE Local 416 offside for firing a letter off to hockey groups warning their ice time may be “at risk” during a labour disruption.
The Toronto Sun obtained a copy of one of the letters sent out to a Scarborough hockey league last week.
Signed by Dave Hewitt, the union local’s vice-president, the letter warned that due to circumstances beyond the union’s control “your seasonal ice allocation at a City of Toronto arena may be at risk.”
The letter said the union will maintain “minimal information pickets” outside arenas in order “not to deprive our communities of precious ice time and hockey” so long as managers operate the ice rink machinery. But if the city replaces unionized workers with “untrained outside workers” to run the rinks, Hewitt warned the union will have no option but to picket “en masse, thereby limiting access to the arenas.
CUPE Local 416 president Mark Ferguson said the letter to the hockey associations is in response to questions and concerns the union has received about the impact on recreational hockey in the event of a labour disruption.
From the Toronto Sun January 22, 2012:
Talks between CUPE Local 416 and the city are slated to continue this week as both sides attempt to reach a deal by Feb. 5 when Toronto residents could face a strike or lockout.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, who heads the city’s employee and labour relations committee, said Sunday he was “hopeful” there would be a resolution before the deadline.
“I know there is some progress being made,” he said. “If that wasn’t the case, we probably wouldn’t set up any more meetings with them. We’ve had to go through the whole process to get meaningful talks underway.”
Toronto Sun editorial January 21, 2012:
No one wants a labour disruption at Toronto City Hall.
But if a lockout of the city’s workers is what it takes to restore fiscal sanity on behalf of taxpayers, so be it.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the city should have no hesitation in locking out workers.
For too long, the unions have been allowed to hold all the cards in the timing of work stoppages.
The city has the same right to lock out workers as workers have to go on strike.
And winter has tactical advantages for the city, as opposed to the summer months the unions prefer, when uncollected garbage rots faster and it’s not freezing on the picket line.
Local 416 President Mark Ferguson’s recent surprise announcement — the media found out about it before the city did — that his members will accept a three-year wage freeze if nothing else changes, is a good start.
But it’s not enough. As Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday notes, the city needs far greater flexibility in its labour contracts to achieve needed savings.
The good news is the union offer validates Ford’s hard line stand and indicates the union has been hearing from its members they don’t want a strike.
As City Manager Joe Pennachetti notes, Toronto has the most restrictive contract language of any Canadian municipality. This has to change.
The city’s offer to retain existing employment security provisions for workers with at least 25 years of seniority, while giving modest lump sum payments to those with less in exchange for giving up jobs for life, is reasonable.
So is its demand for a four-year contract, so taxpayers can’t be held hostage in the next round of negotiations which, under a three-year deal, would occur during the 2015 Pan Am Games.
Finally the union’s $1-million “Toronto works better together” ad campaign won’t impress Torontonians who remember union bullies preventing elderly residents from dropping off their garbage at transfer stations in the heat of summer during the 2009 strike.
From the Star January 19, 2012:
Toronto could be facing either a city lockout or a strike of unionized outdoor workers in 17 days.
Either type of work stoppage will become legal at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 5, under a “no board” report issued Thursday by the provincial labour minister.
News of the widely expected report, which was requested by Mayor Rob Ford’s administration, arrived before both deputy mayor Doug Holyday and Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 416 president Mark Ferguson expressed a new optimism about the state of negotiations.
Holyday said the union had taken a “huge step in the right direction” by tabling written proposals at a Thursday bargaining meeting. Ferguson said the union “noticed a distinct difference at the bargaining table.”
“For the first time, the city was actually willing, and open, and engaging in the discussions that they had with us. If this tone continues through the bargaining process, that is a very good thing,” Ferguson said, calling the shift “a major breakthrough.”
He said “a number of agreements” were made Thursday, though he would not say how many or characterize their significance. Another meeting is scheduled for Friday.
The city did not request a “no board” report for CUPE Local 79, which represents workers at indoor facilities such as daycares, recreation centres and nursing homes. The city’s negotiations with Local 79 are also continuing.
The request for the Local 416 report was merely intended to pressure the union into concessions, Holyday said last week. “It’s not our intent to lock them out, I can tell you that. We want a negotiated settlement, and that’s why we’re doing these things,” he said.
Ferguson countered: “The sole function of (a no board report) is to ensure they are one step closer to their lockout. We’re not looking to take a strike. If there is a labour disruption in the city of Toronto it will be solely at the feet of this administration.”
From the Globe and Mail January 19, 2012:
Toronto city hall and the union representing its outside workers moved one step closer to a labour disruption, as the province approved the city's request for a “no board” report Thursday.
The union will have the option of striking as early as Sunday, Feb. 5. The city will also be legally allowed to lock workers out that same day.
“We will have contingency plans in place to address key city services in the event of a disruption,” city manager Joe Pennachetti said in a statement, adding that negotiators are still at the table with the union. “We are willing to conduct meaningful negotiations 24/7 to reach an agreement.”
CUPE said union leaders are negotiating with the city and would not be responding to the announcement.
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, a strong backer of the mayor, said a settlement is always possible, but the city wants to change the language in the collective agreement and may have to consider a lock out to get there.
“We’re ready,” he said. “At the end of the day, the language that works in the collective agreement works for one side and not the other. The city cannot manage with the language that is in there right now.”
Councillor Mammoliti said he can drive a truck and a Zamboni and is willing to pitch in the event of a labour disruption.
From the Toronto Sun January 19. 2012:
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti says he’s ready to collect garbage, clear snow and cut grass if the city plunges into labour unrest in February.
Mammoliti opened a private waste transfer station in his ward during the 2009 strike and he’s ready to do it again to give his residents a place to drop off their garbage. The Ward 7, York West councillor said Thursday he is already working on contingency plans to ensure his ward stays clean and safe during a strike or lockout.
“If I have to go cut grass I’ll do it again,” Mammoliti told reporters. “I skipped council a few years ago ... to get a lawn mower and cut boulevards, I’ll do the same thing.”
Although around 75% of the city’s snow clearing operations are contracted out, Mammoliti said he has no problem plowing snow himself. Years ago, Mammoliti said he plowed snow as an extra job to raise cash for his family.
Back in 2009, CUPE officials accused Mammoliti of “strikebreaking” and “scabbing” when he collected his residents trash.
Asked what his response would be if the union calls him a “scab” again, Mammoliti taunted them.
Mammoliti said the city won’t repeat one of the more controversial moves made during the 2009 strike to stockpile garbage in parks.
“There was no excuse to use all those parks they used for garbage, there are other solutions to the problem and they are called transfer sites,” he said.
But despite his tough talk, Mammoliti was optimistic a deal could be reached.
“I’m looking forward to a resolution but I think Torontonians need to know that we’ve got a group of people down here that are quite ready to do what we have to do,” he said.
From the National Post January 18, 2012:
The Canadian Union of Public Employees is rolling out a sleek commercial campaign this week to promote a “broader appreciation” of work done by city employees currently embroiled in tense bargaining with the municipality. The 30-second television spots, which will air on all major networks for three weeks, are costing between $500,000 to $1-million. They feature garbage haulers, and early childhood educators, among others, on the job. “When there is a focus as there is now in talking about dollars and talking about things, it moves the conversation away from the people who actually provide them,” said Cim Nunn, communications team with CUPE. The union is betting that if they get the message across that “you can’t cut services without getting rid of people, there will be a greater appreciation of the kind of threat a dramatic change to collective agreements would have.” The contracts of 29,000 city workers expired on Dec. 31. Talks between the municipality and CUPE Local 416, which represents outside city workers, have been especially strained; both sides are expecting the province to issue a “no board report” any day now, which would make a strike or lockout legal 17 days later.
From CTV January 17. 2012:
The union representing Toronto's outdoor workers appealed directly to councillors on Tuesday in an attempt to push forward with a contract offer that has already been rejected by the city's labour relations committee.
Mark Ferguson, president of CUPE Local 416, wrote a letter to city councillors on Tuesday asking them to consider an offer that would freeze wages for the union's 6,000 members for the next three years in exchange for no changes to the conditions of its current collective agreement.
The deal would save the city $8.5 million a year, which Ferguson said could be used to pay for some city services threatened by the proposed budget.
City council is currently debating a 2012 budget proposal that features about $250 million in savings due in part to cuts, such as reductions in library funding and public pool hours.
Letter to the editor in the Star January 16, 2012
My problem with the City is this: There are far too many middle managers that earn hefty salaries, hefty pensions and a sick plan implemented by the previous Mayor David Miller that they gave to themselves before giving it to the workers — only middle management’s is on a more lucrative scale.
But, it’s the workers who will bear the brunt from a lockout or strike. They will suffer a loss of income and incur further household debt as they struggle to find other financial means to pay their bills and put food on the table for their families.
City managers will be locked in for the duration of the lockout or strike earning their generous incomes of $100,000 plus overtime, and council will also make no sacrifices. The voices of the dedicated workers that run this city need to be heard and treated with the respect they deserve.
From the Globe and Mail January 16, 2012
Toronto is trying to “gut” labour agreements with a new offer that would end job security for all but the longest-serving employees, says the union leader representing the city’s more than 6,000 outside workers.
Describing the city’s latest tactics as “quite dire, and reckless and irresponsible,” CUPE local president Mark Ferguson said his union is ready to talk to the city about its demands for flexibility on issues of redeployment and scheduling, but management is not at the table.
Mr. Ferguson’s comments followed a city offer Monday morning that included an end to job security for workers with less than 25-years on the job in return for a lump-sum payment over four years. The city rejected a three-year wage-freeze offer made by the union on Friday.
CUPE estimates the payment would average about $250 each year, but the city puts it higher, at between $300 and $400.
Mr. Holyday said the city felt compelled to make its offer public because the union made its wage-freeze offer last week at a news conference. The offer was also presented to the union at the bargaining table, he said.
Mr. Ferguson saw things differently, noting that city staff left the table after one hour, refusing to discuss their offer. The next session is scheduled for Thursday, but Mr. Ferguson said the union is willing to meet before that.
“All indications at this point are that they have no interest in bargaining whatsoever,” he said. “This employer is looking to gut this collective agreement.”
As council gets ready to debate the 2012 budget Tuesday morning, CUPE 416 also has distributed about 350,000 flyers in key wards represented by about a dozen councillors whose vote could swing support for proposed cuts.
From the Star January 16, 2012
With the clock about to start ticking down to a February lockout or strike of Toronto’s municipal workers, the Ford administration has given a bit of ground on job security to try to get a negotiated settlement.
The administration said Monday that CUPE Local 416 members with 25 years or more service could keep their ironclad job security provisions if all other workers give up the protection.
The current contract for the 6,000 “outside” workers, which expired Jan. 1, ensured the city would find another position for any “permanent” worker made redundant by contracting out or technological innovation.
Ford, who wants to cut thousands of positions from the 50,000-strong workforce, is pushing the union toward a possible lockout or strike in a bid to get the workers to surrender that protection.
The city also offered unspecified “modest one-time lump sum wage payments,” in return for a deal that would run four years instead of the customary three.
“This offer reflects our continuing commitment to get a negotiated settlement with Local 416 and avoid a labour disruption,” Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, chair of the city’s employee and labour relations committee, said in a statement.
“This offer provides the City with much-needed changes and will allow us to improve the delivery of city services.”
Holyday spurned Local 416’s offer on Friday to sign a three-year deal that would freeze its members’ pay and continue the previous contract’s other terms.
“Local 416’s announcement of a wage freeze does not address those restrictive (job security) provisions, except to maintain them for three more years, and is nothing more than a ploy to avoid negotiating on the city’s primary objective to find relief from some of the most restrictive and inefficient terms and conditions in the country,” he said.
From the Toronto Sun January 16, 2012
CUPE Local 416 president Mark Ferguson all but dismissed an offer from the city Monday that asked workers to give up “jobs-for-life” in exchange for cash over the next four years.
City officials announced Monday they’ve tabled a new offer to the outside workers union that would eliminate the jobs-for-life provision for anyone with less than 25 years seniority and provide a “modest one-time lump sum wage payment”.
In making its latest move, the city rejects an offer Local 416 president Mark Ferguson made Friday which would have imposed a three-year wage freeze on his more than 6,000 members in exchange for terms in the current collective agreement continuing for three years.
City officials said Monday night the one-time payment being offered would replace a wage increase and would amount to $300 to $400 per employee, per year for the next four years.
Ferguson disagreed saying the payment works out to approximately $250 each year for four years for an employee earning an average salary.
He stopped short of rejecting the city’s latest offer outright, saying he hasn’t had time to discuss it with the city.