Toronto's Labour Day parade bypasses CNE as lockout at Exhibition Place drags on

Toronto's Labour Day parade bypassed the Canadian National Exhibition this year to show support for stagehands locked out of Exhibition Place since July.

With IATSE Local 58 kept off the job, parade ended at Lamport Stadium instead

Workers march along Queen Street West as part of Toronto's annual Labour Day parade on Monday. (CBC)

Toronto's Labour Day parade bypassed the Canadian National Exhibition this year to show support for stagehands locked out of Exhibition Place since July.

In a break with tradition, the annual parade ended at Lamport Stadium, south of King Street West and east of Dufferin Street, where about 5,000 people gathered on Monday to hear speeches.

Exhibition Place, an entertainment and convention site that is the venue for the CNE, locked out International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 58, over the issue of outside contracts. A picket line staffed by IATSE Local 58 is still in place outside the annual fair.

Justin Antheunis, president of IATSE Local 58, said he's thankful for the support from the Labour Day marchers.

"The solidarity that Local 58 has seen from the entire labour movement, not just in Toronto but across the country, has been fantastic and it means a lot to us that they're not going to cross the picket line," he said.

Thousands march in Toronto parade

Thousands of workers marched in the parade, which started at Queen Street West and University Avenue early Monday.

IATSE Local 58 was the lead union in the parade, which means it was the first union to march.

The parade made its way along Queen and turned south on Dufferin Street before heading east along Liberty Street to Lamport Stadium. 

The parade's theme this year is "Mobilize for Justice."

Speaking to reporters at the parade's start, Toronto Mayor John Tory said he would like to see an end to the labour dispute between Exhibition Place's board of governors and IATSE Local 58. 

"I really, really want to see a resolution. I want to see one that's fair to the workers, but also fair to Exhibition Place and the taxpayers who own it," Tory said. 

Toronto Mayor John Tory says about the dispute between Exhibition Place and IATSE Local 58: 'I really, really want to see a resolution. I want to see one that's fair to the workers, but also fair to Exhibition Place and the taxpayers who own it.' (CBC)

"I'm delighted by the fact that they're still negotiating. And I encourage them to keep negotiating. That's the only way that these things get resolved, is through negotiation.

"I hope that each day that they're there becomes a day that we're closer to a settlement." 

Before the start of the march, Unifor president Jerry Dias spoke to attendees about the importance of fair wages and work environments.

"As we march together I want you to think about solidarity," he said. "I want you to think about our union moving forward."

Bargaining talks to resume Tuesday

As for bargaining talks, IATSE Local 58 and Exhibition Place's board of governors are expected to get back to the table on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

The board and the union, which represents about 400 stagehands and technical employees, have said talks this weekend failed to resolve the dispute.

Both sides of the negotiations said they were unsuccessful after meeting for 12 hours on Saturday in talks that focused on the locked-out employee's contract.

The union is upset with the Exhibition Place board of governors' plan to bring in its own workers to set up and supervise events while they still don't have have a contract. Workers haven't had a contract since December of 2017.

Premier issues Labour Day statement

In a joint statement released on Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Labour Minister Laurie Scott said they are trying to make Ontario a good place to work and live.

"Your government is committed to more economic opportunity for Ontario's workers and wants everyone to have confidence in a safe workplace," Ford and Scott said.

"Together, we can create unprecedented jobs and prosperity — and send a message to the world that Ontario is open for business."

Rally to raise funds for IATSE

At Lamport Stadium, there were speeches, music, food, games for children and a beer tent, with proceeds going to IATSE Local 58.

With files from The Canadian Press

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