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The Anatomy of a Work Stoppage? An Ongoing Account of Toronto’s Sad Labour Relations With CUPE, Local 416

Since the City of Toronto collective bargaining situation provides a real time simulation for my students, I will use this link to do ongoing updates until a new deal is reached.  My purpose is to engage students in a dialogue about an ongoing industrial relations event.

Will there be a strike?  A lockout?  Replacement Workers?  Injunctions? Welcome to the wild and crazy world of Toronto’s industrial relations. I will update this whenever something new happens.  Students,  follow this by hitting the link “City of Toronto Bargaining” on the left hand side of the blog.  Feel free to add comments.

CHRONOLOGY OF A WORK STOPPAGE?

February 13: The Unionized workers ratify a new 4 year agreement

Under our system of labour law, any deal reached by the union’s bargaining committee is subject to ratification by the employees governed by the collective agreement. This requirement appears in Section 44 of the Labour Relations Act. CUPE held that vote on February 13th and announced that the proposed agreement reached on February 5th had been ratified by a majority of voters. Therefore, there is now a new collective agreement that will be in effect for four years. Here is a Toronto Star story describing the vote, and some details of the settlement.

I haven’t seen the new agreement, but the paper says the workers get a 6% raise over the 4 years, which is of course 6% more than what the union had asked for. However, as we noted early on this process, the City could not come out of this bargaining session without some concessions from the workers on job security, since the Mayor had promised his supporters this much during the election and afterwards.  The Employer purchased these concessions by giving a wage increase.  These are the trades off that are made in collective bargaining.

The major concessions appear to be the removal of a clause prohibiting contracting out that will cause a layoff of bargaining unit employees, and the restriction in  the scope of a clause that required the Employer to place workers whose jobs were eliminated due to contracting out in another position.  In the last agreement, that redeployment term applied to all workers.  Under the new agreement, it will only protect workers with 15 years service or more.  The employer opened bargaining by insisting on the removal of that clause outright, but then improved its offer by suggesting the job security provisions apply only to workers with more than 25 years service.  In the final deal, the City came down to 15 years.  That is an outcome I predicted back in December might be the endgame.  In order to have a collective agreement ratified by a majority of workers, you would expect the deal to provide job security protections for a majority of the bargaining unit.  No one is going to vote for to clear the way for their employer to terminate them.  Under this deal, people with less than 15 years seniority are vulnerable to losing their jobs.  I thought that the deal might in the end include some elevated severance payout to any worker with less than 15 years seniority who loses their job, but I’m not sure if it does.  Employees laid off will be entitled to at least ESA notice of termination, and employees with at least 5 years’ service will also be entitled to ESA ‘severance pay’ calculated based on one week’s pay per year of service.

So, in the end, do you think there was  a clear “winner” and a clear “loser” in this bargaining?

February 5: Parties Announce Tentative Deal After All Night Bargaining

Congratulations to CUPE 416 and the City of Toronto for bargaining a new collective agreement.

At the last moment, the parties have apparently reached a tentative deal–it still needs to be ratified by the workers.  No details are out yet, but here is a Toronto Star piece describing some of the early details.

[Note how the headline is skewed (inaccurately) against the workers--it says "Strike Averted", when in fact the union had no plans to strike, had not even taken the required strike vote.  The union had been told by the Employer that if no deal was reached, the Employer would unilaterally gut the collective agreement.  A "strike" wasn't averted.  A lockout or unilateral reformation of the employment relationship by the Employer was averted.  Language matters in shaping public opinion, so pay attention to media spin.]

The collective bargaining system worked as designed, with both sides pressuring each other and ultimately feeling that a deal was better than no deal.  That is how collective bargaining usually leads to a solution that neither side is thrilled with, but that both sides can live with, given the alternatives.  Modern technology and social media amplify every move in the chess game, which can lead people to loose perspective of the bigger picture.  If every move wasn’t broadcast in real time, as it is today, what we would have seen here is a typical bargaining situation that was settled at the last moment.  It happens all the time.  The system worked.

This bargaining was tough and intense, but tough bargaining is common in difficult economic times.   Workers have always struggled to hang onto what they have in times like these, when their bargaining power is particularly low.   From the workers’ perspective, in recessionary times, you take what you can get, but mostly you try to tread water and hope for better times down the road.

If there was anything unusual about this bargaining, historically speaking, it was that the employer took a harder line than have many democratically elected officials in the past, by threatening to unilaterally amend contract terms in its favor if no deal was reached. But the model permits this too, and other employers have done this before.  It’s not like Rob Ford discovered some new law or tactic.  The right to make changes to employment terms has always been there.  But most employers don’t exercise this right for some fairly obvious reasons. One is that it usually makes very little sense for an employer to invite a very angry, pissed off workforce to come to work everyday under terms and conditions they don’t want, and haven’t agreed to.   That’s not a recipe for an efficient workplace.  So very few sensible employers will go down that route.  This employer didn’t care, because it had engaged in positional bargaining where its only measure of success was winning concessions on collective agreement language.

In short, the collective bargaining model here ran its course, and worked as designed, and life goes on.  Now onto the inside workers…

February 3-  City Says it Will Unilaterally Alter Conditions of Employment Starting Monday Morning

Watching City of Toronto collective bargaining is like watching a train crash in slow motion.

The moment we knew was coming for 2 years looks to be upon us.  This afternoon, the City tabled what it called its “final offer”—employers almost always table something they call a “final offer”–and announced to the public its strategy.   Here is the City’s memorandum explaining the situation from the employer’s perspective.

There isn’t anything new in terms of proposals:  the Union offered to roll over the agreement with a 3 year wage freeze, and the City said it would rather give a pay raise to the employees who remain after they have turfed a whole bunch of workers.  So we have the odd situation of an employer offer pay raises, and the union saying it doesn’t want a raise.  The catch is the employer’s real goal is to terminate a bunch of the workers and obtain collective agreement language that will allow them to do that, and also to make other managerial changes without limitations imposed by the agreement.

The more interesting clarification in the Memo is that City’s plan to not lockout the workers, but to unilaterally change their conditions of work once the employer is in a legal lockout position (Sunday at 12:01 a.m.).  Here is what the memo says:

Given the lack of a settlement and the distance between the parties, I have concluded, in consultation with the City’s Executive Director of Human Resources, my Senior Management Team, the City Solicitor’s Office, and our external legal counsel, that it would be inappropriate to delay the necessary changes to the collective agreement if we are unable to negotiate a new agreement. To be clear, the Labour Relations Act, 1995 provides the City of Toronto with the ability to implement new terms of employment once the negotiations have broken down and after the 17- day No Board period has expired. Based on those consultations, I have decided, if we do not reach a new agreement by the deadline, that it would be appropriate and necessary to exercise this option.

The City, in tabling its proposals has told Local 416 that if the parties fail to reach a negotiated settlement by 12:01am Sunday, February 5, 2012, it will be implementing changes that include new or modified terms and conditions of employment for employees represented by Local 416 beginning February 5, 2012,

This is a strategy that is not often deployed by employers, but is a legal option available under our system of labour law. I’m not sure if a government employer in Canada has ever done this.  Anyone know?

Since there is no collective agreement in force, and the mandatory process of bargaining is over as of the lockout/strike deadline, the employer is free to offer different terms of employment than those under the expired agreement.  This process was discussed in a recent decision of the OLRB called Neenah Paper, in case you are interested in reading about the history and reason why employers can do this.  This story will develop quickly over the coming hours and days, so follow the newspapers.

So what happens on Monday?

Well, not sure.  Depends what the employer does, and how the workers chose to respond.  This Toronto Star story suggests some of the things the City might do.  It includes offering a raise, which is interesting, given that the workers didn’t ask for one.  But it also hints that there are plans to start reassigning people and perhaps contracting out some jobs.  If the City lays off workers under these new terms, their reinstatement or terms of their buyout will become part of the issues that go onto the bargaining table.

We enter into some potentially interesting and tricky legal area depending on how things play out.  The employer still can’t offer special arrangements to certain employees and not others.  The union is still the representative of the workers, and the employer still has a duty to bargain in good faith with the union.  The unfair labour practice provisions still apply too, so the employer cannot use this situation to somehow punish people who are strong union supporters or who are exercising their legal rights, such as the right to engage in a work to rule.  So there is a line at which an employer that makes unilateral changes to working conditions can cross  and commit an unfair (illegal) labour practice.  The Labour Board noted this in the Neenah Paper decision linked above when it said this:

In many cases where an employer implements unilaterally terms and conditions of employment the Board may well conclude that the employer is avoiding the union’s bargaining authority. However, given the facts before the Board, there is also no suggestion of that here.

In short, we will have to watch carefully how the employer implements its strategy.  No doubt some labour lawyers are on speed dial. For example, whether an employer can use its right to make unilateral changes to contract terms to effectively terminate loads of union members is an interesting question. The right of employer to unilaterally change a wage rate or to cut benefits is one thing, but less clear is what happens when the terms that the employer changes are the terms that prevent the employer from firing all of the employees in the bargaining unit.

Consider what happened here.  The employer said it wanted to be able to terminate unionized employees and contract out their jobs, but was hamstrung by collective agreement terms.  Therefore, it proposes in bargaining to remove those terms from the next collective agreement.  Obviously, the workers refuse to vote for an agreement that will allow for their own termination.   So we reach an impasse. The legal question is this: Can the employer simply wait around for the legal lockout date, until the moment the job security clauses in the contract expire, and then one minute into it, announce that it is now going to do what it threatened all along:  contract out the jobs of the unionized workers and fire them all, or a good percentage of them?

I’m not saying that is what the employer is planning.  I don’t know.  But if the plan is to now eliminate bargaining unit jobs in this way, and this is legal, then that would be a pretty effective way for employers that are prepared to contract out their employees’ work to bust the union, and would seriously undermine the right to collective bargaining, wouldn’t it?

But maybe such a strategy would violate Section 72, which prohibits employers from punishing unionized workers who exercise their rights to collective bargaining, or Section 70, which prohibits employers from interfering with representation of workers by their union.  Or, maybe Section 80 would give the workers a mechanism to prevent the employer from contracting out their jobs in this manner.  That section guarantees workers who go on strike a right to return to their job for the first six months of a strike, unless the employer “no longer has persons engaged in performing the work” the employee performed.  Does that mean that workers can avoid being laid off by quickly going on strike, and then requesting to return to their old job?

If the employer makes changes but allows the workers to keep coming to work, then the workers are free to engage in rotating strikes or work to rule campaigns, while continuing to collect their pay.  This is what happened at Canada Post last summer, and it caused the employer to lock out the workers after all.  So we could get into a series of partial strikes and partial lockouts, possibly leading to an all out lockout or strike, with each side trying to blame the other for the disruptions.  In this case, apparently the union has not yet conducted a strike vote, presumably because they were trying to show the public that they don’t want to strike.  However, it might make sense at this point to hold that vote, just so the option is there to protest in some form depending on what the employer does.

If the employer begins to contract out bargaining unit work, being free from collective agreement restraints, we can expect picket lines and hostilities and a bunch of happy lawyers running back and forth to court seeking injunctions for this and that.  It will look a lot like the strike form 2 years ago even if there is no strike.

The Rob Ford Flip-Flop on the Benefits of Government Intervention in Labour Relations

Will the Ontario government intervene if a work stoppage ensues?  In the last work stoppage, Rob Ford was pushing for the government to legislate an end to the work stoppage.  He also pushed for the Liberals to intervene in TTC labour relations to prevent work stoppages.  However, he will take the complete opposite position this time, insisting that the Liberals keep their noses out of municipal labour relations.

Why do you think his views on this have changed?  What do you think?  Should the Liberal government simply jump in and order this dispute to interest arbitration as the Federal Tories have been doing with vigour recently?

If not, what explains why governments should intervene in bargaining disputes at the TTC, Air Canada, and Canada Post, but not in bargaining involving Woodbridge transit, Caterpillar, and the City of Toronto?  Can you find any coherent principled explanation for the selective intervention in labour disputes?

Lots of interesting questions to explore as this dispute continued to unfold.

January 30:  Work Stoppage Deadline Days Away, Parties Continue to Bargain

There’s been little word from the negotiators, other than the Union’s spokesperson saying talks are moving along, but expressing unhappiness about the City’s unwillingness to promise that it will not lock out workers once the lockout date (Feb. 5) is reached.  The City is saying it will assess the situation at that time.

January 19-30:  Little News, Parties Continue Talks

After the No Board report is issued, things quiet down for a while.  The Union’s negotiator tells the media that talks are continuing, and that the tone of bargaining has changed in a positive way:

“For the first time, the city was actually willing, and open, and engaging in the discussions that they had with us. If this tone continues through the bargaining process, that is a very good thing,” Ferguson said, calling the shift “a major breakthrough.”

We are in the calm before the storm ahead of the Feb. 5th work stoppage deadline.  We wait.

January 18:  No Board report issued.  Strike/Lockout Deadline Set (Feb. 5).  Question about union’s duty of fair representation in bargaining

As expected, the Minister issued what is called a “No Board” report today, starting the countdown to a work stoppage.  The relevant section of the Labour Relations Act that governs this process is Section 79(2).  Part (b) says that “14 days” after the no board report, the parties are in a legal strike or lockout (it works out to 17 days for reasons that don’t really matter), putting the legal strike/lockout time as midnight on Sunday Feb. 5th.  Thatis the time at which the employer can lockout the workers, or the workers can strike. It is also the date on which the City could unilaterally announce that it is changing the terms of employment, such as by cutting wages and benefits.

As I understand the offers on the table, the union has offered to roll over the terms of the existing agreement for another three years with no increase in pay or benefits.  The employer has offered some nominal lump sum payment to workers, and the abolition of the job security provisions for all employees except those with greater than 25 years’ service.

Neither of those offers has any chance if being accepted.   The employer has publicly locked itself into a promise to eliminate the provisions that prohibit the employer from terminating workers in order to contract out there jobs. So while most employers would love their unionized workers to accept a 3 year pay freeze, the employer is actually offering money while the workers are offering a wage freeze.

Here’s the situation from the workers’ perspective.  If  the employer’s proposal were accepted,  most of the workers could lose their jobs since the whole purpose of that proposal is to permit the Mayor and his supporters to fire the unionized workers and replace them with cheaper private sector workers.  Our law requires that every collective agreement be ratified (voted to accept) by the employees (section 44).  Therefore, you’d be asking for a workers to vote for their own dismissal, which won’t happen.

Here’s a hypothetical labour law question: What if the employer “improved” its offer, and proposed that the job security provision would protect people with, say, 15 or more sears of service (down from 25 in its current offer).  Now assume that 60% of the bargaining unit have 15 or more years of service.

[Note: I have no idea what the breakdown is.  This is just a hyopthetical question for my labour law students]

Question:  Could the 60% of members who are protected by the proposed language vote to accept it, and thereby save their jobs and avoid a lockout by permitting the employer to terminate the other 40% of members who will be left unprotected?

Look at Section 74 (Duty of Fair Representation).  Do you think this section permits a union to sign a collective agreement that disregards the minority of workers to protect the majority?

Would it make a difference if the Union also bargained higher termination packages for the 40% than they would otherwise be entitled to under the Employment Standards Act (or the old collective agreement).

January 16:  City Counter-Offers, Calls Union Wage Freeze a “Ploy”

As expected, the City negotiators reject the union’s offer of a three year wage freeze.  Oddly, the Chair of the employer’s bargaining committee, Doug Holyday tells the media that that offer–which would prevent a work stoppage and save the employer tens of millions of dollars–is just a “ploy”.  Holyday counteroffers with a “modest lump sum payment” and a concession:  the removal of the no contracting out clause is taken off the table in part. The City says it would agree to keep the job security clause in tact for workers with 25 years or more service.  So we see movement.  The old language protects “permanent employees” from layoffs caused by contracting out of their jobs.  To refresh our memory, here is the language:

No permanent employee with ten (10) years of seniority shall lose his employment as a result of contracting out or privatization. Employees affected as a result of contracting out shall have access to the Redeployment provisions of Article 28 and the Layoff and Recall provisions of Article 29…

The City confirms that during the term of this Collective Agreement and any extension by law, there shall be no new contracting out of work of the Local 416 bargaining unit resulting directly or indirectly in the layoff or loss of employment of permanent employees.

Read as a whole, this language could be read as saying that a permanent employee is someone with 10 years or more service, and that such a person cannot lose their job due to a contracting out.  However, people with less than 10 years’ service can be laid off due to a contracting out.  If the second paragraph prevents contracting out that will cause a layoff of any worker, even those with less than 10 years’ service,  then what would be the point of the reference to people with “10 years’ seniority” in the first paragraph.

But it appears that is not the correct interpretation, at least according to some people I’ve heard from.   Apparently, “permanent worker” in the second paragraph means any indefinite term employee (not a contract or temp worker).  But I don’t know for sure.  It doesn’t matter really, given that the employers’ position is that anyone with less than 25 years’ service could be terminated if their job is contracted out.

Remember that under our system, no collective agreement can come into force until a majority of the covered workers have voted for it (ratified).  The employer’s offer would asks the employees to vote for their own termination, with the exception only of workers with more than 25 years seniority, who would be safe.  Why would any rational person vote for their own termination?   Consider now how you would respond if you were the union.  Do you have a counter-offer to throw back on the  table?

January 16:  National Post Nows Doubts Whether City Can Persuade Public of Need for a Work Stoppage

The National Post suggests that the Employer’s position that the union’s offer of a three year wage freeze isn’t enough to stop a work stoppage may not win over the masses.That’s interesting coming from the most anti-union, anti-collective bargaining newspaper in the country.  Read this short panel discussion by NP columnists. What do you think?

To be clear, here’s where we are at:  the union has offered to accept to just roll over the past collective agreement with no increases in wages or benefits. That would guarantee no work stoppages until 2016, saving the city millions of dollars per year and assuring labour stability.   However, the Employer so far is saying that is not enough, because  what it really wants to do is fire thousands of the unionized workers and replace them with cheaper workers.  The most interesting part of the NP exchange, I think, is Goldsbie’s comment at the end, which mirrors points I have made before:

Recasting working people as elites was one of the great successes of neoliberalism. It could not have been easy work to turn the concept of “fairness” on its head so that it signifies a race to the bottom. But that’s pretty much what this is all about: the administration wants to remove the collective agreements’ “Employment Security and Redeployment” provisions so that they can more easily lay off their employees in favour of cheaper workers employed by third-party contractors.

I made a similar point in an interview with Edmonton’s Vue last summer, when I said one of the great victories “of the contemporary political right is that they have managed to convince so many working folks that they are better off without collective bargaining”, and in a blog post I did called “When Did Having No Job Security Become a Virtue?”.   Goldsbie (and I) are making the same observations in our own ways:  In a time when the wealth of the Canadian middle class is being vacuumed upwards to the wealthy due to a decline in workers’ bargaining power, how odd it is to see workers themselves cheering on employers’ attempts to replace decent paying, secure jobs with cheaper, insecure jobs.

You might expect working people to side with workers who are attempting to preserve decent jobs, rather than employers who are trying to eliminate them.  Yet the fact that the Mayors Ford (and their allies on Council) believe it is a good political move to provoke a work stoppage in order to win the right to fire their own employees and replace them with cheap labour suggests that, in fact, voters do side with this trend. What do you think explains this?

January 13, 2012 – Union Offers To Accept No Raises

Workers offer to accept a wage freeze in order to avoid a work stoppage. This is a good strategy by the workers.  It puts the City on the defensive now.  No one can claim the workers are being greedy by offering to accept a loss of real income over three years.  Zero percent is less than the national average in the public or private sector, and less than cost of living.  Assuming the union would have bargainined at least a cost of living raise, this saves the employer in the range of $10 million per year, for the next three years.  In normal circumstances, the employer would be able to accept this, call it a win, and move on without a work stoppage for another 3 years.  But this employer has promised more:  a pound of flesh.  It said that it would not stop until it obtained the power to eliminate between 15-20% of its labour force! (Ford says he wants to eliminate some 7000 out of 50000 employees).  A wage freeze doesn’t help him achieve his objective of replacing City employees with lower paid private sector workers.  If you were one of unionized workers, how would you respond to your employer’s thirst to eliminate your job?

How will the City respond to the union’s proposal? Certainly Ford and his allies won’t find value in the union’s proposal, since they have staked their political credibility on eliminating the restrictions on contracting out.  But what about the rest of the Council?  Given the union has offered to save the City around $30 million dollars over three years in the wage freeze, is it still necessary to put Torontonians through a nasty and painful work stoppage?  Do you think it is?   The workers have given something significant; will the employer make any movement towards a deal now?

January 12, 2012 –  City Eager to Get to legal Strike/Lockout Date

The City informs the Minister of Labour that it believes bargaining is at an impasse.  The next step is for the Minister of Labour to issue a “no board” report pursuant to Section 79(2)(b) of the Labour Relations Act. In theory, the Minister could elect more conciliation with a three-person board (section 79(2)(a)) if she thought that could help get a deal, but that option is virtually never exercised.  Perhaps this would be a good case for the exception, and the Minister should require a conciliation board, since hardly any bargaining has happened, there are huge stakes for the public, (and of Jan. 13, there is a major new concession (a wage freeze) that the parties have not discussed seriously). However, I doubt very much that the Minister’s office will do that.  Seventeen days after the “no board” report, here is what can legally happen:

  • the workers can strike in whole, or in the form of work-to-rule, or partial or rotating strikes
  • the employer can lockout the workers, in whole of part, or in the form of partial or rotating lockouts
  • the Employer can unilaterally change the terms of employment, since the collective agreement is no longer in force

It is extremely rare for a public sector employer to lockout its workers, or to unilaterally cut wages and benefits of its employees during a legal strike/lockout period.  However, this administration has been hinting that they are prepared to do these things if the workers don’t cave and agree to give up their job security.

January 2012 – Silly Exchanges in the Media

Both sides continue to accuse each other in the media of bargaining in the media.

December 15, 2011 – City Requests Conciliation Officer

In order to get to a legal strike or lockout position, there must first be failed government conciliation–an attempt with a professional mediator to help the parties get a deal.  The City requested on December 15th that the government appoint the conciliation officer.

December 1, 2011- City Council Rejects Motion to Require that Full Council Approve a Lockout

City of Toronto Council Rejects Motion to Require Decision to Lockout Employees Be Made by the full elected Council, rather than a small sub-committee. This means that the small Employee and Labour Relations Committee has the power to lockout all of the City’s employees without having to take the issue to the full Council.  That Committee is stacked with Counsellors who have traditionally sided with Mayor Ford’s hard line against the cities’ unionized workers.  The Committee is: Mike Del Grande (Vice Chair), Doug Holyday (Chair), Chin LeeDenzil Minnan-WongJohn ParkerJaye RobinsonKaren Stintz.

October-December 2011– Collective Bargaining

The parties engaged in some largely unproductive bargaining sessions.  No one expects the parties to reach an early collective agreement given that the Mayor (and to a lesser degree his allies on the Employee and Labour Relations Committee) have staked their political credibility on their promise to eliminate the job security provisions in the collective agreement.

This is classic positional bargaining, in contrast to what your HR and negotiations textbooks often talk about:  mutual gains bargaining (see the “Getting to Yes” phenomenom). The difficulty with positional bargaining, according to negotiations folks, is that it can make it difficult to find any sensible middle ground. It promotes a “winner and a loser” mentality:  one side’s gains must come at the expense of the other sides’ loss.  That is certainly true here.  By publicly promising to eliminate the long-standing job security provisions in the collective agreement, Ford and his allies have left themselves with very little room to accept less than that and still save face.  If the new collective agreement doesn’t permit Ford and the City to fire hundreds of unionized workers and replace them with lower cost private sector workers, then Ford has not lived up to his central election promise.   But note too that not all  Councillors are so invested in this particular outcome.  A majority of them could prove to be more pragmatic and flexible.  Those councillors may begin to speak publicly against a City strategy designed to crush its own employees for the sake of upholding Ford’s election promises.  How will this dynamic play itself out?

Do you think that perhaps a compromise might be possible, such as an agreement to change the definition of a “permanent employee” from 10 years to say, I don’t know, 15 years?  Would that be sufficient to enable both Ford and the union to declare victories?

October 4, 2011  - Notice to Bargain Served

The formal bargaining begins when one side serves the other with a letter called a notice to bargain.   The City serves this notice on October 4th.  The City claims that its priorities in bargaining are:

  • obtain necessary improvements to modernize its collective agreements to ensure it has the ability to effectively deliver its core services to the public
  • change costly and restrictive collective agreement provisions that hinder the effective management of the City
  • achieve cost containment measures in order to be able to continue to provide its services in the future

May 17 , 2011

Council votes 32-13 to contract out garbage collection west of Yonge Street, and therefore to fire some 300 City employees. Mayor Ford now says that savings from contracting out this work will save the City $10 million per year.  The City calculates the estimated savings at $7 million per year, while other groups suggest the City is considerably inflating the numbers.

November 2010

Deputy Mayor tells media that the City “would force private contractors to post security bonds that they would forfeit in the event of a strike”.  I pondered then whether such a clause was illegal.  [I'm not sure if the actual tender contracts have been drafted or made public yet]

October 25, 2010

Rob Ford elected Mayor of Toronto on a promise to “stop the gravy train” and contract out city services.

Spring-Summer 2010 – Mayoral Campaign

Mayoral campaign heats up, with most candidates, including Rob Ford, saying they will contract out city services, especially garbage collection, if elected.  Ford’s website claims that doing this will save the City $20 million dollars a year”.  Also, he promises that he if he is Mayor, “taxpayers can have the confidence their garbage collectors won’t go on unnecessary strikes”. He makes no promises to taxpayers about them not having to tolerate the City instigating “unnecessary lockouts”.  

Summer 2009 – 40 Day Strike

Unionized workers engage in a 40 day strike, which is resolved with an agreement giving the unionized workers a modest raise of between 1.75-2.25% over three years.   The new agreement will expire on December 31, 2011.  A controversial “sick day bank” is to be phased out over time.  Councillor Ford is a vocal champion then for the Liberal government to step in legislate an end to the work stoppage. Language that has been in the collective agreement for decades limiting contracting out of public services if doing so will cause a layoff of permanent workers remains in the agreement.  That language reads in part as follows:

No permanent employee with ten (10) years of seniority shall lose his employment as a result of contracting out or privatization. Employees affected as a result of contracting out shall have access to the Redeployment provisions of Article 28 and the Layoff and Recall provisions of Article 29…

The City confirms that during the term of this Collective Agreement and any extension by law, there shall be no new contracting out of work of the Local 416 bargaining unit resulting directly or indirectly in the layoff or loss of employment of permanent employees.

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