Toronto outside workers ratify new contract

Workers will receive 4.5 per cent increase over four years

The union representing Toronto’s 6,000 outside workers has ratified the tentative agreement it reached with the city on Feb. 5.

There were 3,400 ballots cast in the vote with a “large majority” backing the new agreement, said Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 416 president Mark Ferguson. Final vote results won’t be released until other bargaining units finish negotiations with the city.

Workers will see a 4.5 per cent wage increase over the four-year agreement as follows:

  • 0.5 per cent increase in the second year (as well as a 1.5 per cent lump sum payment)
  • 1.75 per cent increase in the third year
  • 2.25 per cent increase in the fourth year

One of the major sticking points in the dispute was the “jobs-for-life” clause, which protected unionized workers from job loss indefinitely. Originally, it was reported the city’s bargaining team wanted to scrap the clause altogether. However, the clause was amended by limiting the number of employees who can’t lose their jobs because of contracting out or technological change to those with 15 years’ seniority.

The agreement will also see paramedics designated as an essential service, but the group will be unable to get interest arbitration in future negotiations.

The dispute between Toronto and CUPE Local 416 was heated at times with the union accusing Mayor Rob Ford of attempting to gut the current collective agreement, and city officials saying major concessions needed to be made given the current economic state.

The deal will be before city council at a special meeting on Feb. 15 where it must still meet approval.

“It’s great news for taxpayers and it’s great news for the unions,” said Mayor Rob Ford through his spokesman, George Christopoulos.

The city’s 23,000 inside workers, represented by CUPE Local 79, are still in negotiations for a new contract with the city.

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