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Anatomy of a Work Stoppage?: Workers Ratify New 4 Year Collective Agreement

This is probably the last instalment of my chronology of the collective bargaining process between the City of Toronto and CUPE 416 representing Toronto’s outside workers. For the rest of the diary, see here.

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?



One Response to Anatomy of a Work Stoppage?: Workers Ratify New 4 Year Collective Agreement

  1. city worker mike

    March 10, 2012 at 9:48 am

    except for the lowering of the job protection, the contract is essentially the same as before with a modest wage increase. the city withdrew the concessions that it wanted at the last minute. they saved face by changing the 10 to 15 and thats all they were interested in. the union got off lucky on this one. there could have been a long strike etc. of couse if you lose your job and you have 12 years for example you are clearly losing. all the people that were under this clause when it was first put in (2003 i think but not sure) are still covered and even more than then,so i would say the union were winners in terms of having a very right wing administration running the city, the union came out well. will have to see if the same works for local 79 which is going through the process now. local 79 have many more members and any savings or changes to their contract will yield more savings. also i dont think they have the “jobs for life” clause.

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