An eleventh-hour deal has been reached between TCEU Local 416 – CUPE — the union representing thousands of service workers — and the City of Toronto, preventing a possible strike or lockout.
In a tweet, city spokesperson Brad Ross wrote that both sides have reached a tentative agreement “and avoided a labour disruption.”
“City services, including City-owned arenas, remain open as usual,” he added. “Curbside and commercial garbage collection will also continue as scheduled.”
No further details about the tentative agreement have been released.
The city and union representatives have been meeting around the clock after a mutually-agreed mediator was called in ahead of the extended deadline, a source with knowledge of those conversations said.
But any details about concessions and the specifics of the deal would not be spelled out until after it is ratified by members, a union spokesperson told the Star late Friday night.
The mayor and senior union officials are expected to speak to media Saturday morning.
The 5,000 members of Local 416 collect garbage east of Yonge Street, maintain city buildings and facilities, and staff animal services, among other things.
They had been in a position to strike or be locked out as of Thursday, but the two sides agreed Wednesday to push the deadline to Saturday 12:01 a.m. and began meeting with a mediator.
A sticking point between the city and Local 416 was the issue of job security, which city officials routinely described as “jobs for life.”
Members of Local 416 with 15 years of experience were protected from job loss if the city privatized services. In the 2016 contract negotiated between the city and Local 416, that protection was limited to union members who had reached 15 years of service as of Dec. 31, 2019, effectively capping the number of members who could qualify.
During negotiations Eddie Mariconda said that 90 per cent of union members indicated they wanted to restore the protection to all workers who reach 15 years of service, including those who reach it after Dec. 31, 2019.
Members could still be let go over job performance issues.
Mariconda said the protection was necessary because the city had indicated it was interested in privatizing services, as it did with garbage collection west of Yonge Street in 2011, under then-mayor Rob Ford.
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Mayor John Tory said that while the city had no current plans for privatization, it needed to be in a position to respond quickly to things like technological change.
The city had also been seeking limits on the numbers of orthotics and orthopedics that can be claimed in a year, and limits on drugs like Viagra. It wanted to see half-days taken off for illness counted toward workers’ sick days.
CUPE Local 79, representing more than 20,000 inside workers, is a little further behind in the process. The countdown to a lockout or strike for them has been set for Saturday, March 14. Negotiations are continuing.
Inside workers include city planners, public health inspectors, city child-care workers, 311 operators and city clerks.
With files from Ilya Banares and Jennifer Pagliaro
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