CUPE files grievance after deletion of City of Toronto positions

Employer argued it acted in accordance with the collective agreement

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79 filed two grievances against the City of Toronto, claiming the employer violated the parties’ collective agreement in its handling of several permanent payroll program assistant (PPA2) positions.

In the first grievance, the union claimed the employer violated the collective agreement when it deleted a number of PPA2 positions, when the union argued work continued to exist.

In the second grievance, the union argued the employer breached the parties’ agreement by failing to post vacancies in the PPA2 classification in the Parks, Forestry and Recreation division.

Because the grievances were originally filed in 2011, the union called for declaratory relief and, ultimately, did not pursue its first grievance.

Prior to October 2010, there were 17 permanent, full-time PPA2 positions in the Parks, Forestry and Recreation division.
On Oct. 18, 2010, the employer notified the union it would be deleting five of those positions due to budgetary considerations and service level reduction requirements.

Those five employees were assigned to other positions outside of the division and, as such, were no longer members of the division.

In January 2011, the employer posted an expression of interest for three PPA2 acting positions in the division. The duration of the positions was indicated as six months, although ultimately the positions lasted for a longer period of time.
To apply for the expression of interest, an employee had to be an active employee in the Parks, Forestry and Recreation division. This excluded the five recently displaced employees. 

In late 2013, two more PPA2 acting positions were posted, each for six-month durations. Ultimately, between December 2010 and May 2014, two PPA2 positions were filled by employee-initiated transfers from another division and two were posted as job postings.

The union argued that when the employer redeployed those five employees from their deleted positions, it should have given them the opportunity to fill one of the PPA2 positions — temporarily occupied by recreation workers — it would later post as expressions of interest or job postings.

The union asserted that not only were the displaced employees not given the opportunity to fill those positions — some of which lasted for years — the employer also failed to post the vacancies in the Parks, Forestry and Recreation division.

The employer, however, argued there was nothing in the parties’ collective agreement that would entitle workers whose positions have been deleted to temporary or acting positions. The employer further argued it acted in accordance with its obligations under the collective agreement when it posted the positions as expressions of interest and not as vacancies.

Arbitrator Gail Misra was satisfied the employer did not expect there to be temporary assignments of more than one-year duration at or around the time it deleted the five PPA2 positions. Misra was also satisfied the employer had sound operational reasons for treating the positions as it did and, as a result, could not find the employer violated the terms of the parties’ collective agreement.

The grievance was dismissed.   

Reference: City of Toronto and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79. Gail Misra — arbitrator. Amandi Esonwanne for the employer, Douglas Wray for the union. April 29, 2016.

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