26,000 City of Toronto workers move closer to strike or lockout

The city asked the province's Ministry of Labour for what's called a "no-board" report in its negotiations with CUPE Local 416. Within an hour, CUPE Local 79, representing the city's 20,000 inside workers, asked for a no-board report of its own.

Requests for "no-board" reports could put CUPE locals 416 and 79 on picket lines in late February

Toronto's city workers strike in 2009 meant no garbage pickup for weeks. ((Dwight Friesen/CBC))

The City of Toronto's unionized workers moved a step closer to the picket lines on Friday. 

Requests have gone to the province's Ministry of Labour for what's called a "no-board" report in negotiations with both CUPE locals representing 20,000 inside employees and 6,000 outside workers. 

Seventeen days after the ministry issues a "no-board" report, the two sides will be in a legal strike or lockout position. Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who chairs the city's employee and labour relations committee, said he expects that will be Feb. 20. 

"We're not satisfied with the progress that's been taking place to date," Minnan-Wong told a news conference at City Hall. "With this step we are signaling the need for both parties to roll up their sleeves and get to to work to find a deal." 

​"The city has shown no commitment to bargaining," said Matt Alloway, bargaining committee representative for CUPE Local 416, representing the outside workers. 

Alloway told reporters at City Hall that only 15 hours of face-to-face talks had taken place. "It's hard to reach a deal when you're not in the room," he said. 

Alloway said the city is seeking "cuts" in the contract talks, but refused to say anything more specific. Nor would Tim Maguire, president of CUPE Local 79, representing the inside workers. 

"We've been negotiating since October and the same deep cuts remain on the table, quite frankly deeper cuts than were on the table in the last round of negotiations," Maguire told reporters. 

Tim Maguire, president of CUPE Local 79, representing City of Toronto inside workers. (CBC)

Maguire said his members want more job stability. The union has said part-time city workers suffer from a lack of reliable hours, little notice in shift scheduling, and little to no benefits. 

The city made the first move on Friday, announcing at 1 p.m. that it had asked the ministry for a no-board report in its talks with CUPE Local 416. Within an hour, the inside workers' CUPE Local 79 announced it had asked for a no-board report in its talks. 

The province has not yet responded to the requests for no-board reports and there is no deadline for that to happen. But typically such reports are issued within days if contract talks are at an impasse, starting the 17-day countdown toward the strike and lockout deadline. 

The city asked the province to appoint a conciliator in December for the talks with the outside workers, but says there has been little progress at the bargaining table. The union announced on Jan. 13 its members had voted strongly in favour of a strike.

The inside workers asked for a conciliator earlier in January. 


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