Union spurns Toronto Mayor Ford's response to bomb threat

CUPE Local 79 files policy grievance, calls in labour ministry

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford received a bomb threat at City Hall that was diffused inappropriately and irresponsibly, according to the union representing city staffers.

The threat — which was made on Aug. 11 and warned City Hall would “blow” if Ford didn’t resign — was followed by a media scrum, which the Canadian Union of Public Employees said jeopardized the safety of city hall employees.

In response to the incident, CUPE Local 79 filed a policy grievance and announced its intention to assist members wishing to file individual grievances against the city.

Mayor Ford brushed off the grievance, saying he followed protocol and diligently followed instructions from security.

According to the union, however, the swiftly put together press conference was a direct violation of policies put in place to handle these potentially dangerous situations.

“From the moment media were first alerted to the existence of a purported bomb threat, there flowed a complete breakdown of policies and procedures to deal with such threats,” said Tim Maguire, president of CUPE Local 79, who added that the move is not politically motivated. “It is not acceptable for policies governing employee health and safety to be infected by the same flagrant and casual disregard for the rules that seem to be a way of life in some quarters of City Hall these days.”

CUPE Local 79 also intends to petition the Ministry of Labour to conduct an investigation and determine whether the city adhered to its own policies and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

“Our members are entitled to expect and have every right to expect a structured rational response to threats, particularly when those threats could have an impact on their well-being,” Maguire added.

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