TORONTO — Following the City of Toronto’s announcement on contingency plans for a possible labour disruption, CUPE Local 416 offered their own plan, one that respects all parties: negotiate a fair contract and avoid a labour dispute.

“How does the City Manager stand up there and say the City respects its workers and looks out for the best interests of residents when they have been driving these talks toward a deadline and a dispute from the beginning?” said Eddie Mariconda, President of Local 416. “They say that they want a contract that is affordable and sustainable. 416 members are already affordable and sustainable, and we deliver great services too. So the Mayor can pat himself on the back for a job well done, and let’s all get back to work.”

“What is not affordable is the labour disruption that the City is instigating. If the City is being honest with the people of Toronto and their workforce, they will come to the table, negotiate a deal and avoid a labour dispute.”

The two parties have been in a countdown toward a possible strike or lockout since February 10, when a no-board report was filed at the request of the City, setting up 12:01 am on February 27 as the earliest possible time a legal strike or lockout can begin. Mariconda stressed that the City chose to impose this deadline, not the union.

He also called out the City for misrepresenting the job security provisions that are a sticking point in the talks. “They are willing force a labour dispute over something that costs them nothing – there is zero new cost to maintaining this modest job security provision for longstanding City employees. Why won’t they be upfront that they are trying to take this away, and that they’re willing to risk a strike or a lockout over it? If the city wants to disrupt services for residents in the middle of winter, that is their call. But I’d ask them to at least be honest about the sticking points between us. We can defend our position without misleading anyone,” said Mariconda.

The union remains committed to bargaining around the clock in order to get a fair deal, as they have been since February 10, the day the no-board was requested. “My goal is to get a deal, but I’m not encouraged by what I heard today. On February 28, I want to see our members delivering quality public services in neighbourhoods across Toronto. But based on what I saw from the City today, it’s not clear to me they are equally committed to doing the work it will take to find solutions. I want to assure the residents of Toronto that if there is a stoppage it will be because of the City, not the union.”