toronto garbage strike

Garbage collectors expected to strike in Toronto and things could get messy

Good times are on the horizon for Toronto's rat, raccoon and seagull populations — and literally no one else — if an agreement can't be reached between the City of Toronto and its unionized garbage collectors by February 27.

City officials announced on Tuesday that a legal strike or lockout deadline had been set by Ontario's Ministry of Labour for Toronto Civic Employees Union Local 416 — CUPE  (CUPE 416) after more than four months of unsuccessful collective bargaining with the city.

The union, which represents more than 5,000 City of Toronto "outside workers" (including park staff, water treatment workers, road repair crews, paramedics and garbage collectors east of Yonge), is looking to renegotiate parts of its now-expired collective agreement with the city.

Outstanding issues include job security, parental leave, benefits and wages, according to the city, which says it "remains committed to negotiating a collective agreement that is fair and affordable."

"Our job security language, like our entire contract, expired on December 31, 2019. That means the whole contract is up for negotiation," said CUPE 416 president Eddie Mariconda in a media release on Tuesday.

"At the end of the day renewing our job security language costs the city nothing. On benefits, the City saved $18 million in one year after they switched benefit providers, they don’t need to go back on what was previously agreed to in order to find savings," Mariconda continued.

"Our contract is affordable and sustainable, and we provide world class services to the people of Toronto."

Both the City of Toronto and CUPE 416 maintain that they wish to reach a settlement within the next 17 days — before the provincially-mandated strike/lockout deadline hits.

If they don't, however, things could get quite messy on the city's east side, where garbage collection has not yet been contracted out to private firms, as it has in the west.

The City of Toronto did say on Tuesday that it "has a contingency plan in place," should a labour disruption occur, and that said plan will be released "in the coming days."

Let's hope it doesn't involve using public parks as makeshift dumps like it did in 2009, when a city-wide strike saw garbage collection services suspended for 40 hot, stinky, summer days

Lead photo by

Martin Reis

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