Toronto city council has quickly and unanimously approved a new five-year contract with about 5,000 outside city workers.
The deal renews job protections for veteran employees in exchange for below-inflation pay hikes and cuts to some benefits.
The 20-0 vote Friday, after no debate or questions of city staff, officially ended any chance of a strike by, or lockout of, CUPE Local 416 members leading up to March break. Members include garbage collectors east of Yonge Street, parks maintenance staff and animal control officers.
The chance of a work stoppage that could threaten summer camps and other March break activities remains, however. Negotiators for CUPE Local 79, representing about 20,000 inside workers, including planners and recreation staff, continue to bargain with city negotiators.
Unless they strike a deal, those workers could legally strike or be locked out as early as Saturday March 14.
Contracts for both unions, as well as library workers in CUPE Local 4948, expired Dec. 31. Library representatives are bargaining with library board representatives with, at the moment, no countdown to a possible work stoppage.
Contracts for outside workers are often similar on main issues to those for inside workers. The locals have different priorities, however, based on demographics. A majority of outside workers are male and permanent staff. Most inside workers are female, with a large contingent of part-timers.
The new deal with Local 416 includes:
- Pay hikes averaging 1.3 per cent over five years. That includes 1-per-cent hikes in the first three years, followed in year four by a 1.5-per-cent hike plus midyear 0.25-per cent bump, and a final year hike of 1.75 per cent.
- Protection from job loss due to contracting out for all workers who have been full-time staff for 15 years or more by the end of the contract, Dec. 31, 2024.
- Cuts to benefits, including a cap on erectile dysfunction medication unless the workers has proof of a “medically supported requirement,” and a limit on claims for orthotics and orthopedic devices for workers’ dependants aged 18 and under.
- Improvements to some benefits, including an increase in funding for psychologist services from $300 per year to $1,000 per year, and increased limits for vision and tests and prostate and ovarian screening.
- The top-up to employment insurance benefits during pregnancy and parental leave rise from 75 per cent to 85 per cent. However, if workers want to spread the amount over an 18-month leave they must spread the same total payout over the longer period.
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