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2012 lockout/strike in the media
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2012 lockout/strike in the media (3)

January 26 - January 31 27-Jan-2012 [986]

From January 31, 2012

AT ISSUE: Don't dump in Christie Pits Park

Potential labour stoppage has area residents concerned

With fears over a pending labour stoppage for Toronto's outside workers, residents in the Christie Pits area are seeking assurances they will not see a repeat of the last strike.

In the summer of 2009, Christie Pits Park became a dumping site for waste as the city's outside workers went on strike. The ice rink in the park was filled with trash, enraging local residents, who complained of the smell, pests and environmental impacts.

Now, with a possible strike or lockout set for Feb. 5, residents are once more concerned their beloved park will become a dump. A group of dedicated locals met to discuss the issue at the Friends of Christie Pits Park (FCPP) monthly meeting.

"They have to be aware that we're not going to take it again - we're not going to take garbage in our park again whether it's in the pit or in the ice rink," said Monica Gupta of FCPP. "We don't want to see it in other parks either, but we've done our time."


Some residents went so far as to suggest they would personally remove garbage from the park and leave it on Bloor Street should push come to shove.

While they were protective of their own park, the group vowed to remain vigilant when it came to the use of the city's green spaces regardless of whether Christie Pits was chosen as a dump site or not.

"If it goes to another park, we have to go there," Coleman said. "If they put garbage in Dufferin Grove, I will go there and protest."

The complete article

From the Globe and Mail January 31.2012:

Union bargaining for Toronto workers reports some movement

As the clock ticks down toward a possible labour stoppage in Toronto, the city’s second-largest union has proposed a number of concessions in the face of hard-line bargaining from city negotiators.

“There has been some movement over the last couple of days,” said Mark Ferguson, president of CUPE Local 416, representing over 6,000 garbage workers, street cleaners, paramedics and other outside workers.

Perhaps most promising is a union guarantee that redeploying workers will take no more than six days.

For weeks, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday and city staff involved with negotiations have complained that, due to the collective agreement, the cascading bumping process that takes place when an employee is reassigned takes an average of one year. In one case, reassigning a single city worker took three years. Since 2009, that drawn-out process has cost the city $10-million, according to human resources director Bruce Anderson.

“We have been focused on redeployment as a key issue for the last number of days,” Mr. Ferguson said. “We have made improvements to that system that should decrease the amount of time it takes for an employee to be redeployed by 98 per cent.”

Mr. Ferguson did not detail other concessions, but said the city would respond to his team's proposal by 8 p.m. Tuesday night.

On Monday, Mr. Holyday, chair of the city’s labour relations committee, said that the city would not lockout workers this Sunday, when a provincial deadline passes allowing either side to take legal job action.

The complete article

From the Globe and Mail January 30, 2012:

No outside workers lockout this weekend

There will be no citywide lockout this weekend.

Deputy mayor Doug Holyday made that pledge on Monday, allaying fears that the city will lock out workers as soon as a provincial bargaining deadline passes on Sunday.

“There won’t be a lockout,” said Mr. Holyday, the chair of the city’s labour relations committee. “It has never been our intention to lock anyone out.”

Last Friday, members of Mayor Rob Ford’s team would not commit to continuing negotiations with CUPE Local 416 past the Feb. 5 date set by the province, sparking concerns that arenas and other city facilities would face disruptions as soon as 12:01 a.m. on Sunday.

The complete article

From the National Post January 27, 2012:

CUPE 416?s Mark Ferguson calls Toronto labour talks ‘a union-busting exercise

In an apparent display of solidarity, two public sector unions are stoking fears the city will unilaterally change the terms of its collective agreement in an attempt to “provoke” workers to go on strike.

One week after expressing optimism that talks were heading in the right direction, Mark Ferguson, president of CUPE Local 416, was in front of the media again, using words such as “very concerned,” “draconian measures” and “union busting.”

He had with him Maureen O’Reilly, president of the Toronto Public Library Workers’ Union, who accused the city of deliberately isolating its sister local in order to rip out key clauses in its agreement, and then foist it on library workers. “The library board is not negotiating with us at all,” said Ms. O’Reilly. As a result, the union applied for a provincial conciliator to help it reach a deal.

The news came as a surprise to Paul Ainslie, chair of the library board, who thought talks had been going well. He said human resources staff have had six or seven meetings with the union since the contract expired on December 31, and there are four days of bargaining planned for next week.


As of 12:01 Sunday Feb. 5, 6,000 garbage collectors, paramedics and other outside workers can be legally locked out or go on strike. How other unionized workers would respond to job action is unclear; Ms. O’Reilly would not say whether her members would cross a picket line. CUPE Local 79, which represents 23,000 inside city workers, is also in the midst of talks. President Tim Maguire said if a strike or lockout happens with another local, it would likely develop “protocols which ensured that both picket lines and the responsibilities of members not affected by the disruption were respected.”

On Feb. 5, the contract ceases to exist and the city can unilaterally impose new work conditions, said Mr. Ferguson.

“I would characterize this as a union-busting exercise. This is not about negotiations, it’s about payback for 2009,” he said. “I’ve committed we’re not going to take a strike unless the city starts to rip up our collective agreement. Then we’re forced into a position of not really having any other options.”

The complete article

From the Star January 27, 2012:

No progress in contract talks with Toronto civic workers, union says

With eight days to go before the deadline, hopes for a negotiated settlement with Toronto civic workers are growing dim, union leaders said Friday.

Bargaining with library workers is going nowhere and little headway is being made in talks between the city and outside workers, they said.

Friday, the library workers sought the assistance of a provincial conciliator as the city seeks major changes to the contract, said Maureen O’Reilly, president of CUPE Local 4948.


Once the deadline arrives, the existing collective agreement with Local 416 is no longer in force and the city would have an opportunity to make unilateral changes as a way to force a strike, Ferguson said.

Paying everyone minimum wage, for example, would be an action the city could take in pursuing a strategy of provoking a strike, union officials said.

“I don’t believe this administration is serious about getting to a deal,” Ferguson said. “This isn’t about negotiation. This is about payback for 2009” (when there was a 39-day strike).


If there is a labour disruption, Local 416 has told minor hockey leagues that the union won’t try to shut down the city’s arenas.

“What we’ve said to them is that we’re not going to shut down the arenas unless we see that there’s a health and safety issue at play,” said Ferguson.

An example would be if the city employed untrained people to work on the ice-making equipment, he said.

“Where untrained people are working on the refrigeration compressors, that’s where we would draw the line.”

The complete article

From the Globe and Mail January 26, 3012:

City and Local 416 no closer to agreement

As a possible lockout looms within 10 days, the city and its second largest union remain at odds over at least 20 key issues.

Over the last seven days, the two sides have met five times at the Sheraton Centre with nothing to show for it, according to Bruce Anderson, the city’s director of human resources.


Mr. Anderson, who has kept a low profile in the media since negotiations began late last year, outlined a number of issues on which he says the union won’t budge:

  • Running lunches, which allow workers who eat on the job to go home early
  • Rigid shift rules that prevent the city from making any changes to workers’ shifts without union consent
  • Tool allowances that pay some workers $750 a year for tools even if they don’t produce receipts
  • Bumping provisions that place discretion over a displaced worker’s next job in the hands of the employee rather than the city.
  • A redeployment clause that guarantees another job for any permanent worker displaced by contracting out.


Hearing of Mr. Anderson’s decision to speak despite the agreed-upon media blackout, Mr. Ferguson picked apart the city’s claims one by one. “I would suggest Bruce [Anderson] isn’t being truthful,” he said.

Local 416 has offered to eliminate tool allowances, he said, and running lunches have saved the city millions. As for redeployment and bumping, Mr. Ferguson said the city has been reluctant to talk.

The complete article

From the Star January 26, 2012:

City of Toronto and outside workers still ‘a long way apart’

City negotiators have reached “minor agreements” with CUPE Local 416 but, with the clock ticking down to a possible lockout or strike, the two sides remain far apart.

Bruce Anderson, the city’s executive director of human resources, made the comments in an interview Wednesday.

“We’re bargaining today (Wednesday), we bargained yesterday, the day before, we bargained on Sunday. We bargained on Friday. It’s difficult. The parties are a long ways apart,” he said. “We keep saying to the union, ‘Come forward with meaningful proposals to deal with these issues.’ We’re not seeing that. It’s certainly been difficult.”


Anderson said there’s time to get down to the major items of contention before Feb. 5, the date which there could be a legal city lockout or strike by the outside workers.

“In the bargaining world, some of the biggest things can happen in the last day and hours. There’s still a lot of time to reach an agreement,” he said.


Mayor Rob Ford, who wants to cut thousands from the 50,000-strong workforce, has told negotiators to try to dismantle ironclad job security provisions that ensure no permanent unionized worker can lose their job because of contracting-out or technological innovation.

The city publicly offered Jan. 17 that workers with 25 years or more service could keep the job security, if others give it up. The city also offered workers unspecified “modest one-time lump sum wage payments,” in return for a deal that would run four years instead of the customary three.


Discussions are expected to begin soon with CUPE Local 2998, which represents community centre workers, and the Toronto Public Library Workers Union.

The complete article

From the Toronto Sun January 26, 2012:

Nothing's happening in city's labour negotiations

Ten days away from a possible lockout, City of Toronto officials say not one substantive item has been settled at the bargaining table.

Both the city and CUPE Local 416 told the Sun they are bargaining with themselves despite the fact the two sides have met five times in the last seven days.

The frustrated view of contract talks doesn’t bode well as the clock ticks towards February 5 - the day when either side would legally be able to start a labour disruption.

Bruce Anderson, the city’s executive director of human resources, said the city had hoped more progress would have been made by now on tackling the 20 to 25 significant items targeted in this round of negotiations.

“I would say that not a substantive item has been settled yet,” Anderson said in an interview Thursday.

The complete article