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CUPE 416 rejects City's "final offer"

Posted by Robyn Urback / February 3, 2012

CUPE Strike Toronto 416Apparently city officials have been watching too much "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" because they have just presented CUPE 416 with their so-called final offer and told to "take it or leave it."

CUPE has decided to go with the latter, according to local president Mark Ferguson, who says the offer "basically guts [their] collective agreement."

"It is the clearest demonstration to date that the city has no interest to bargain a collective agreement with us at this time," he said.

CUPE 416, which represents 6,000 outdoor Toronto workers, previously offered a deal that included a three-year wage freeze and five-year job security restriction. Although Ferguson says that the union will continue to negotiate, a strike or lockout is possible as of 12:O1 a.m. Sunday.

So is this just more public bargaining, or are we headed straight for a labour disruption?

Update (3:30 p.m.)

The City of Toronto has released its terms and conditions if no deal is reached by 12:01 on Sunday. If CUPE workers don't accept the city's deal then they could start laying off hundreds of workers.

For a full list of the terms and conditions outlined the city, see below.

Memo City Manger

Photo by syncros in the blogTO Flickr pool



Mark / February 3, 2012 at 01:42 pm
Geez. Unions really do protect the lazy.
In today's economy, you should just be glad you have a job at all. Ask any American.
Nuanced replying to a comment from Mark / February 3, 2012 at 01:49 pm
That's actually one of the laziest positions to take on this issue.

mada / February 3, 2012 at 01:50 pm
@mark - couldnt agree more....these idiots should appreciate the fact they have a job rather than striking every two years and pissing everyone off.

its ridiculous.
hendrix / February 3, 2012 at 01:56 pm
Given that union membership has dropped considerably, particularly in the US, over the past few decades, there's little correlation between economic problems and the unions.
Actually, given that union membership has dropped, you'd think the economy would have improved. Not the case.

By the way, companies want you to simply appreciate your job. It's called brainwashing. Look what happened with Caterpillar in London Ontario -- massive profits, ask the union to cut wages in half. When the union refuses to just appreciate having a job, the company closes down the plant. That's awful.
Rob / February 3, 2012 at 02:03 pm
To a large degree the union brought this on themselves based on their actions during the garbage strike, and I think people haven't forgotten. I don't say this maliciously.

Having said this, the attack on unions in this country is seriously troubling. Having worked in two seperate union environments, I think they still serve a purpose. However, the trouble comes in a fiscal environment such as the one we find ourselves in now and the temptation to cut, cut, cut when it benefits no one but the super wealthy. A look at the Caterpillar plant in London that closed is a great example of this.

I used to think the City should contract out all services - including the TTC. Having lived here for a while, I realize how wrong that approach is. If any of us were in a union, how could we turn down a 'jobs for life' clause?

It's a shame the unions in this City didn't have enough foresight to work with the City over the years and foster a trusting relationships instead of an adversarial one that has produced this outcome. We all lose now.
bob / February 3, 2012 at 02:04 pm
If they don't like their job, maybe they should get another job. Simple. Nobody put a gun to their head and said they had to work for the city. It was their choice and we are paying for their life mistakes.
Fire 'em! / February 3, 2012 at 02:04 pm
Fire 'em Rob Ford! Your mandate was to eliminate unnecessary strikes to the city. Get rid of these greedy buggers and give those unemployed deserving of a job!
Jildren replying to a comment from hendrix / February 3, 2012 at 02:07 pm
The reason for the broken economy is the elimination of positions like these. the rich get richer. the rich hoard money the trickle down effect is frigging joke.

That said I find it hard to support the union when they were faced with a mayor who was co-operative they turned into bullies now they have mayor who is a bully and they get all co-operative. in the end its the people who lose when these positions get privatized but I really can't support the unions. This piece of garbage of a mayor was elected directly as a result of their actions in order to take them to task so be it.

My prediction: The union votes to accept the terms of the city eliminating the jobs for life clause. Big win for Ford. he manages to eliminate a very small amount of positions over the next 2 and a half years. A much more progressive mayor gets voted in and their positions are safe. As much as I despise Ford I think the only good that will come from his term is the eliminating of the jobs for life clause (I know it isn't actually jobs for life, but i don't care, they made this mess)
Alex / February 3, 2012 at 02:10 pm
Just great, another step toward privatization. Why do we keep trying to put more money in fewer hands? It's worse for the city as a whole if you have a couple people that own the waste collection company making a ton of money and the workers make a little money, versus no owners and all the workers making a good amount of money. Why do we want to turn Canada into a third world country? I'm not saying this is suddenly going to happen, but the more we push for privatization and against unions (and just accepting whatever pay our employers feel fit to pay us), the closer we get to a class system with a few extremely wealthy people and a ton of really poor people. If you don't start the fight somewhere eventually you wake up one day and wonder what happened.
Hank replying to a comment from Mark / February 3, 2012 at 02:11 pm
Americans have no jobs because their greedy consumerist lifestyle demands lower prices which only labourers in China can meet greed like that.
Matt replying to a comment from mada / February 3, 2012 at 02:24 pm
They've already said they're not going to strike. It's a lockout. The city is basically forcing them off the job.
john replying to a comment from Mark / February 3, 2012 at 02:40 pm
yes, keep buying into the "you should be glad to have a job" mantra. Corporate america will continue repeating it till everyone works for minimum wage, and the you'll be happy huh?
Unions suck / February 3, 2012 at 02:43 pm
hurricane hazel in mississuaga, and other burbs privatized most of their outside service (expect ems, fire, police, transit) sometime back. No big deal really, who cares. Anyone can mow grass. For the record i hate ford, but hate city unions more.
Nikki / February 3, 2012 at 02:43 pm
First of all, you people saying that City workers are greedy need to get your facts straight, do you honestly think we want to be out of work and not getting paid? Do you think that we aren't concerned about our families and how we are going to pay our rent or mortgage? And I don't know where people get off saying "we have to pay for their mistakes," City Workers do indeed pay taxes the exact same way that other people do. I am a part time employee who works 40 hours a week and do not have sick days and do not have vacation or benefits. My bigget concern is being able to support my family the exact same way all of you people would be concerned. So please do your homework and have some logic before you come on to these discussions and start bashing people. Lastly, City workers being LOCKED OUT is NOT the same as being on strike. Thanks
not working replying to a comment from Nikki / February 3, 2012 at 02:46 pm
shouldn't you being working, instead of posting on a message forum? my tax dollars hard at work i see.
Rob replying to a comment from not working / February 3, 2012 at 02:51 pm
40 hours doesn't have to be 9-5 strictly.
Bob But Not Doug / February 3, 2012 at 02:54 pm
Maybe Ford should just close the entire city and move it to Illinois.
Lucy / February 3, 2012 at 02:57 pm
I'm tired of people having the attitude that because we don't have something that other people have they shouldn't have it either. Good wages, benefits, and retirement security is something everyone should have.

Not to mention that privatizing or contracting out services is a terrible idea. I work for a municipality who already contracts out a lot of services...the service is crap, there is no acountability and maybe we saved a few bucks the first contract, but by the second or third year we were spending just as much money for less service.

Finally, the public believes that if we privatize or cut jobs that things will be better for them. We need to wake them up...we contribute to the economy, we patronize their businesses, we buy their products...if we go, how long will it take for the ripple effect to hit them. We stop patronizing their businesses they make less money, they make less money, less money comes in to pay for services, they cut services, less people patronize business and the cycle continues. Why on earth would anyone believe this is acceptable.

Cyril Sneer / February 3, 2012 at 02:57 pm
You should be glad (we're stripping your benefits, cutting your wages, working you longer hours, lobbying for fewer services) to even have a job!

Rob / February 3, 2012 at 02:57 pm
According to the Star:

Bruce Anderson, the city’s executive director of human resources, told reporters Friday the demands, suddenly tabled Thursday night after months of bargaining, will be unilaterally imposed at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. “All employees are expected to continue working and these new terms and conditions now apply to them,” Anderson said.

They include:

• Lump sum payments of 1.25 per cent in the first year, 1.5 per cent in the second year; and 1.75 per cent in the third. The fourth year would see a 1.75 wage increase. Local 416 is offering a pay freeze in exchange for keeping other benefits.

• Scrapping the need to get union approval of shift changes.

• Ironclad job security provisions that exist for all permanent workers would stay only for those with 22 years or more seniority, down from the city’s previous offer of 25 or more years. Local 416 offered Thursday to remove that protection for permanent staff with less than five years’ seniority.

• Streamline bumping procedures to make it easier to lay off workers.

• Clamp down on sick days and reduce optical and dental benefits.

Lucy / February 3, 2012 at 03:00 pm
If the City is successful in reducing the amount of union workers, what will happen to them? Enemployment is already so high. I guess they'll all go on EI and then we'll really have something to complain about.
margarets replying to a comment from john / February 3, 2012 at 03:11 pm
No, when everyone works for nothing. I.e. slavery. THAT is the most cost-effective model.
Miss Kriss replying to a comment from not working / February 3, 2012 at 03:20 pm
You're a fool. The city has THOUSANDS of part-time workers.
v79 replying to a comment from Nikki / February 3, 2012 at 03:32 pm
The City isn't locking out anyone. They're saying "this is the job, these are the working conditions. If you want it, show up. If you don't, have a nice day". There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, it's the way it should be. No one should be guaranteed a job for life. The fact that they're grandfathering the clause for workers with 22 years seniority is very generous of them.
Rob replying to a comment from v79 / February 3, 2012 at 03:39 pm
What about collective bargaining? Does that not matter anymore? These items were bargained for.
margarets replying to a comment from v79 / February 3, 2012 at 03:47 pm
That's not how collective bargaining works though. One side can't just say "take it or leave it". I predict that this will go to arbitration and the union will keep most if not all of the non-monetary provisions of the agreement.
legal / February 3, 2012 at 03:56 pm
read this ,it explains what each side are legally allowed to do:

right now what the city is doing is completely legal, if the workers don't like it the new terms they can strike.
Bob Loblaw / February 3, 2012 at 04:01 pm
I get all my legal info from Bob Loblaw's Law Blog
James replying to a comment from bob / February 3, 2012 at 04:03 pm
Nobody "holds a gun" to anybody's head and "forces" them to take any particular job. But your attitude is offensive and short-sighted. Without job protection, whether as part of a union or the protections offered to non-union employees by law, employers could fire people at will, lower their salaries, and change their working conditions. Is the solution always "find another job"? The neo-con notion that we're all better off as free agents in the job market is a fairy tale. People want security even more than wages, which is clear in this case, where the union offered a wage freeze but were turned down by a city that just wants to be able to fire workers with impunity.
v79 replying to a comment from Rob / February 3, 2012 at 04:08 pm
Yes, they were collectively bargained for in previous contracts which have now expired. They're completely irrelevant to the new one.
Matt replying to a comment from v79 / February 3, 2012 at 04:11 pm
No one is being guaranteed a job for life.

There are problems with labour unions, including city unions, but the city can't basically say: if we don't come to an agreement, we're forcing this on you. And if you don't like it, you're fired." It's absurd.
legal replying to a comment from Matt / February 3, 2012 at 04:19 pm
but it is legal, because there is no contract. the workers can answer with strike, rotating strike or work to rule.
v79 replying to a comment from Matt / February 3, 2012 at 04:21 pm
Matt, I'm not sure you've read anything pertaining to the situation, because, 1) Yes, under their current deal, employees with enough seniority are guaranteed a job for life. If their position is contracted out or removed, they must be offered a job somewhere else by the City 2) The Labour Relations Act says they can do exactly as they're doing (implement new terms) if a given period of bargaining has passed. Why shouldn't an employer be able to dictate the conditions of a job? How is that in any way absurd?
Rob / February 3, 2012 at 04:48 pm
To summarize:

Unions/workers rights are very important. Without them, most, if not all employers would take advantage of their employees. It's human nature.

Everyone knows that City jobs are some of the cushiest around. Add to that union protection and you have a collection of overpaid, lazy employees with a huge sense of entitlement. Also human nature.

It's not a black and white, all or nothing discussion. The question is how to find a suitable middle ground.
Evan / February 3, 2012 at 06:29 pm
Whoever thought that ultimatums and negotiation didn't go together so well.
Cheryl / February 3, 2012 at 08:05 pm
The unions have no one to blame for their current unpopularity but themselves, or the garbage workers in particular. If it weren't for the way they acted towards the general public during the garbage strike, then public opinion would not have swayed so far against them. This directly led to Ford's victory on his anti-union platform. I personally saw striking garbage workers making people wait for hours while they only let one person through the picket line every 15 minutes walk up and deposit their trash bags at the temporary drop off sites. If someone tried to walk up before "his turn" or just didn't want to wait at all because they had other things to do, they actually threatened that citizen with physical violence. This behavior by the striking garbage workers frankly pissed off the whole city and people couldn't wait to elect a mayor who promised to privatize city services.
Jay / February 3, 2012 at 08:27 pm
I do not wish for anyone to lose their job. I've been laid off twice in the last 15 years working in the private sector and it sucks. If city workers end up getting laid off, locked out, or strike I'll feel for them.

But the reality is that over the past decade the union friendly council has traded an ever favorable collective agreement for union backed votes. The problem with that is it only benefits one group at the cost of the tax payer. The current agreement is too restrictive and too costly. Now the City is forced to dig in its heels to try and bring the collective agreement more in line with other public sector workers in Canada. And in the end the front line worker is the pawn in the game that Union bosses and politicians play.

If peole want to vent their anger at someone it should be Miller and the former councils who dug this hole and then handed the shovel to the City, the unions, and the tax payers.
CanoeDave replying to a comment from Jay / February 3, 2012 at 09:58 pm
It is amazing to see how well City staff can represent the interests of the public when they backed by poitical leadership and not sabotaged by the Miller Regime that was little more than a bagman for their public sector allies.
Noted above is the clause to be deleted: "Employment Security: Delete Letter of Agreement protecting ALLPermanent Employees when work is contracted out(LOA from 2005."
No responsible government in Ontario history has ever given out such a job for life clause in any form without a huge fight, but the facts are there that in 2005 Miller gave his allies this perk, in a dark room, without a fight and without informing the public that he was selling out the public to reward his political friends. It is no different than signing a private sector purchase contract like MFP that gouges the taxpayer to further political ambition. In dollar terms Miller's JfL sell out , which was just one of many favours done for his public sector allies, cost much more than MFP and he should be judged by history as the most fiscally corrupt public official in post war Ontario history.

Matt replying to a comment from v79 / February 3, 2012 at 11:29 pm
But the entire pint of a labout union is that the employer SHOULDN'T dictate. Rather, employer and employee negotiate. Calling the provision a jobs for life clause is simplistic. It doesn't guarantee that they can never be fired, or laid off. It guarantees that they cannot lose their jobs to privatization.

And yes, perhaps the CUPE unions have too much power. But foisting a take-it-or-leave-it union-busting contract on them is not the answer.
Alex Green / February 4, 2012 at 01:09 pm
How arrogant can CUPE 416 be ? Calling the city a "BULLY" while they threaten service disruption ? its discusting !!! fight for what you desire if you so wish but do NOT make Torontonians pay the price for it. City workers a more than fairly paid !!!! the majority of Torontonians dont make HALF as much as union members. We as citizens need to make sacrifices in order to get the city out of crisis. And those crying because this year they wont go on their annual vacation aborad should be ashamed for whining over that loss. SOME Torontonians are loosing their homes, reducing the quality and qty of food they eat.. is there something wrong with this picture?

Has anyone stopped to realize just how much money unions make? from almost EVERY construction project, every city worker, every union member.. it takes a cut of the money.. adding to Billions of dollars and only a small portion is ever given back. Its a better, more profitable business than all McDonalds franshises put together !

Eliminating the Unions puts Millions upon millions back into the city while enabling the city to FAIRLY treat its employees !
Colin Macdonald / February 4, 2012 at 09:39 pm
I would to thank all of you for your comments, good or bad, they show you care about your community and I applaud you all for having an opinion. I understand that with all the propaganda out there it is really very easy to get caught up in all the hype. The reality is we live in a world where the rich get rich and the poor get poorer. And you should be angry at this!! Damn right! Everywhere you turn large corporations are making huge profits through outsorcing and contracting out jobs to other impoverished countries where workers make almost nothing! This is all driven by the need for greed and increasing the almighty profit margin so a select few may have the things that should be accessible to all. Things like being able to own your own home, and having the money to give your kids a decent education. What a lot of people don't understand is that unions overall are the only real voice for the worker. If you are not unionized and you work for a company and the bosses just finishes school and he needs a job, well they just might decide to give them yours!
In a unionize environment you are afforded certain protections that would otherwise be unavailable to you. In most cases unions are the only real voice for changing labour laws. If you were mistreated by the employer and chose to sue them, the likelyhood of you winning against a large well funded company while having no income to pay your lawyer is very unlikely indeed. However, if you work in a unionized environment, the reality is quite different, first, you have a collective agreement that affors you in most cases, a grievance procedure that will help resolve issuses in the workplace, and if your employment was terminated unfairly you would have the support of your co-workers (the union members) who's union dues go to support,(amongst other things),legal representation to ensure your legal rights are upheld. Indeed many of the things that we hold dear today like having vacations, were fought for and won by unions, raising the minimum wage, was fought for and driven by unions, Health and safety, WSIB & Employment Insurance were all fought for and won by unions! So having said all that, you might say, but we have all of that now so why do we still need unions? We the answer is really easy....Do you want to keep it??? Look around the conservative agenda is one that will look to "reform the system" Why? well to make it more difficult for you to have it! To reduce your benefits to take it away from you. The american system of pay your own way health care would leave most families bankrupt if the couldn't afford there own personal healthcare coverage. and yes OHIP was fought for and driven by the labour movement. Look around you and you will see that everywhere corporations are looking to "downsize" "contact out" and "outsource" jobs to temp job agencies so that they don't have "job security". lets look at one senario.... the average Garbage worker, lets say for the sake of arguement that the average garbage worker makes $50,000 per annum it's a fair wage you might say and no one will argue. Now out of that comes about 50% for various taxes paid throughout the year. All of which goes right back into the local economy! The work is being done for what it actually costs to do the work without the impediment of having to make a profit. Now on the other side you have a company that is a foreign based private company that hires the majority of its staff from a staffing agency. The Contractor says I can save you Millions! Great says the City where do I sign? Here is what happens... The city divests itself of it's assets and hires the contractor, The contractor has bid in order to get the contract and still has to make a profit, the contractor gets a tax break in order to preserve its profit margin, the contractor hires a temp agency to provide staffing, they pay the temp agency $48,000. Now the temp agency is company unto itself and it has to make a profit too! So it makes it's profits directly off the worker! The worker has to literally buy his job! ata a cost of say, $18,000 per year! Most of this pure profit and if the parent company happens to be based in another country as is usually the case takes the money out of the local economy. This in turn leaves the Worker with less than $30,000 with which to feed his family pay his bills and put a roof over his head, and of course pay taxes but given that he now doesn't make enough to pay taxes, reducing the Tax base of the country. If the country doesn't have a decent tax base it can't afford to provide services. It is really quite a complex cycle. But the reality is very simple, the people that have money the more it stays in circulation and thus a stronger economy! If you allow only a few to have all the wealth then the rest of the community suffers and a recession occurs. Unions do not create recessions they help prevent and recover from them?
Colin Macdonald / February 4, 2012 at 09:44 pm
Just for the record, Local 416 did not ask for a wage hike. In fact Local 416 asked for wage freeze.
Alex Green / February 5, 2012 at 08:32 am
Mr McDonald Unions did 50 years ago what they were intended to do and def helped set healthy "worker friendly" employment standards. Sadly however, today they stand for nothing except corruption and greed. Its a well known fact that organized crime started the unions and the concept became a legitimate way for the "Mob" to use their brute force to extort money from contractors, cities, municipalities and people all over north america. It still does this today with many prominent individuals in politics on their invisible payroll. Union management making in upwards of 250 K a year with 250k expense accounts and millions pocketed from funds paid "under the table". Hundreds of union members wait patiently in "hiring halls" waiting for their number to be called up for the next job oppening, some wait days and even months while 70% of those positions are filled in secret with "select" union members who know they must PAY under table to get that job.
Only Contractors that are "approved" by the unions are allowed to work on these projects, any others are bullied out, threatened by these mob orginizations who have supreme power and the law on their side. Only those select contractors willing to submit to the Mob demands and conform to the "rules" and pay large amounts of money under the table will be allowed to work on those projects. ( remember how the Mob used to demand "protection money" from businesses?)
I can go on forever with not only allegations but proof of such as well.

We no longer need UNIONS to protect workers. We have excellent labor laws in place in Ontario and with some small changes in Ontarios Fair Wage policy and implementation of legal resources made available to workers we can offer workers the same benefits unions claim to fight for and save tens of millions of tax dollars at the same time.

Mr McDonald.. would you care to respond to this ? I am certain should you decide to do so you will cleverly address the issues and allegations and i shall gladly respond as well.
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