Toronto’s contingency plan for possible outside worker strike

Published On February 20, 2020 | By Patrick Simpson | News
Toronto City Manager Chris Murray laid out a number of closures and reductions of services if a deal with CUPE 416, the union that represents outside workers, isn’t met by the end of next week. Image by Patrick Simpson at Humber News. Feb. 20, 2019.

Patrick Simpson

The City of Toronto has announced a contingency plan for garbage collection and a host of other city services in the event of a labour disruption involving the city’s 5,000 outside workers.

Negotiations between the city and CUPE Local 416, the union that represents Toronto’s outside workers, have yet to come to an agreement on a new labour contract.

The City of Toronto has said that both parties have signed off on most things at the bargaining table, but aren’t able to reach agreement on the topics of wages, job security, parental leave, and benefits.

After four months of back and forth talks, the City of Toronto received a no-board-report from the Ministry of Labour on Monday Feb. 10. Now, Toronto has until 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 27 to nail down a tentative agreement to avoid a strike with the city’s outside workers as well as a lockdown of certain services and programs.

As part of the emergency plan, Toronto has announced the cancellation of garbage, recycling and organics collections east of Yonge Street unless a deal can be agreed on before the deadline.

For the first week of an outside worker labour disruption, the city is recommending all east Yonge Street residents to separate and store all of their garage and to not place any bags or bins on the curb as they will not be collected.

If the strike continues beyond a week, the city says it’s planning to open 11 temporary garbage drop-off sites throughout the city.

Garbage collection West of Yonge will continue, as it’s mostly operated by contract workers outside of CUPE 416. However, recycling and organic material, which normally go in blue and green bins, will not be collected by the city.

Toronto also announced that several services will be suspended or cancelled in the event of a outside workers strike, including:

  • Park maintenance and garbage collection/cleanup in parks
  • Most Toronto owned animal shelters
  • All Toronto community and recreation centres
  • All city and community-operated programs
  • reduced access to civic centres including Metro and City Hall
  • Routine operations like street cleaning, event support, repairs and maintenance on sidewalks and roads.
Brad Ross, City of Toronto Chief Communications Officer

At a news conference on Thursday, City Manager Chris Murray said he’s hopeful the city will to find a deal that’s fair for the outside workers union and the taxpayers.

“I remain hopeful that we can reach a negotiated settlement with no disruption to services for our residents,” Murray said.

He said the city’s working “around the clock” to get a contract deal for both parties.

“We will work around the clock, as we’ve done in the past, as necessary to derive an arrangement and an agreement that is fair to our valued employees and reflects the important role the city employees play in Toronto,” Murray said. 

In response to the Toronto’s planned contingency plan, Eddie Mariconda, the president of CUPE 416, put the blame solely on the city in a statement released Thursday.

“How does the City Manager stand up there and say the City respects its workers and looks out for the best interests of residents when they have been driving these talks toward a deadline and a dispute from the beginning?” Mariconda said.

“If the city is being honest with the people of Toronto and their workforce, they will come to the table, negotiate a deal and avoid a labour dispute.”

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