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“No New Deals” for City Workers Still Without a Contract

City hopes to meet with remaining workers tomorrow, but may impose new work terms unilaterally.

At a press conference a few minutes ago, Mayor Rob Ford and Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday thanked the vast majority of the City’s 23,000 inside workers for ratifying the contract offer that was extended to them this week. Voting yesterday, two of the four bargaining units within CUPE 79 accepted the offer, although it seems reluctantly—the union’s negotiating team hadn’t recommended acceptance, and concerns about job security persist. The other two units are currently without a deal. One of those units represents long-term care workers; since they are considered an essential service they cannot strike, and will enter into binding arbitration to resolve their outstanding contract issues. The fourth unit represents part-time recreation workers; today, Bruce Anderson, who heads up human resources at the City, said they hoped to sit down with those workers tomorrow. He warned, however, that the City would be extending no new offers, and added that if they did not come to an agreement the City might unilaterally change the terms and conditions under which they work.

According to Anderson, the sticking point in talks with the recreation works is harmonization of pay across the different parts of the City—a decision made through binding arbitration back in December. In a press release, Anderson writes that the decision “resulted in 73 per cent of the recreation workers receiving a pay increase and 22 per cent receiving a decrease and a lump sum payment to offset the decrease.” (There was no immediate response to this from CUPE.)

The deals that have been reached thus far will need to be approved by city council. They are expect to convene a special meeting for that purpose shortly, though no date has yet been set. Also in labour developments, later today striking library workers will be voting on a new offer they have received; union leadership is recommending acceptance of that deal.

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