CUPE 79 continues work-to-rule after rejecting Toronto's 'final offer'

Toronto's more than 20,000 inside workers will continue their work-to-rule campaign after talks broke down late Saturday when CUPE Local 79 rejected the city's latest offer. Mayor John Tory says the union then dismissed the provincial mediator, an assertion the union local's president denies.

Mayor John Tory 'waiting for call' after negotiations end with CUPE Local 79

Toronto Mayor John Tory, left, and CUPE 79 president Tim Maguire both told the media they're willing to keep talking even though the union has rejected the city's latest offer. (CBC)

Toronto's more than 20,000 inside workers will continue their work-to-rule campaign after talks broke down late Saturday when CUPE Local 79 rejected the city's latest offer.

When asked about the possibility of a labour stoppage so close to March break, local president Tim Maguire — whose members include community centre, arena and recreation employees — said only that the union will review all its options.

"We've been making best efforts not to disrupt the public services our members deliver," he told reporters at a news conference Sunday, hours after Mayor John Tory spoke to the media.

Tory said earlier in the day that the union walked away from the bargaining table and dismissed the provincial mediator after being presented with a "fair and reasonable" offer, an assertion the union local's president denies.

CUPE 79 president Tim Maguire updates status of negotiations 14:48

Although the union remains in a legal strike position, Maguire said he's been in touch with the mediator to make it clear they want to keep negotiating. Employees will stay on the job but continue a work-to-rule campaign for now, he said.

The city released a copy of the offer the union rejected on Saturday, which included a five per cent wage increase over four years, as well as a 0.25 per cent lump sum payment in the final year of the contract.

Tory said the document holds the city's "final offer," which also includes suggested changes to scheduling including the possibility of releasing schedules to part-time workers at least a month in advance.

But Maguire said the main sticking point between the two sides has not been addressed — contracting out services, which the local president said would "create a two-tier job protection system."

"It has never been about the money," Maguire said at Sunday's news conference. "The city's proposals would reduce the job security for workers through cuts and restructuring."

Tory said the offer addressed key issues raised by the union including worker health, job stability and scheduling. 

City posts offer online

The city has posted highlights of its offer to CUPE 79 online in what Tory described as an effort at transparency, and he encouraged the union's members to read it. 

The mayor said it is "consistent" with the deal that earlier this month led to a tentative agreement with CUPE 416, which represents about 5,400 of the city's outside workers. Council will meet tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. to vote on that contract.

Tory said city representatives are "waiting for a call" in hopes that talks with CUPE 79, which started five months ago, will resume. But he deflected questions about whether the city is now facing a work stoppage. 

However, Maguire said there are elements in the online offer the negotiating team had not seen, including the possibility of a six-month master schedule for some part-time employees. While he did not directly answer when asked whether the city was acting in bad faith, Maguire did say "it was disrespectful" to share the offer publicly.

Members of Local 79 work in community housing, community centres, arenas, child-care centres, public health offices, long-term care facilities and municipal offices, among other things.

Workers continue to perform core duties, but none outside of their job descriptions, according to Maguire.

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