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Council approves outside workers' deal, standoff continues with inside workers

Last Updated Feb 29, 2016 at 7:11 pm EDT

One down, one to go.

City council has ratified the contract reached with its outside workers, which means now all the attention shifts to the stalled negotiations with the city’s inside workers.

It took little over 30 minutes for the city to ratify the deal with CUPE Local 416, which represents the city’s 5,400 outside workers.

“The deal reached after lengthy negotiation with Local 416, is a good deal. It’s a fair deal. A deal that is fair to both our hard working staff and respects the taxpayers of this city,” Mayor John Tory said. “And it was quickly ratified by both the membership of Local 416 and unanimously by the city council.”

Before the vote, Tory thanked the bargaining committee and implored council to give the agreement the thumbs up.

“I too hope that all members of council will support a deal that is seen not only by, I believe, the people, but is seen by the members of 416 as being fair and balanced, which is what we set out to try to achieve,” said Tory.

Council then voted 36-0 to approve the new contract.

As for the city’s inside workers, it’s been well over a week since the negotiation deadline and there is still no end in sight.

Tory told the media on Monday that the city has put an “excellent offer on the table.”

“As of this moment in time, we have an excellent offer on the table with Local 79,” Tory said. “This offer shares the fundamentals of the Local 416 agreement that has just been approved by both employees and the city council and also contains proposed terms which mark significant progress on key issues more unique to Local 79.”

Read the offer here

Highlights of the offer posted online include a five per cent increase on base pay over the course of four years; a change to the amount of benefits for workers on long-term disability – previously, workers could claim for 75 per cent of their basic salary while on disability, but the city has proposed changing that to 70 per cent for new claims.

CUPE Local 79, which represents the city’s over 20,000 inside workers, is currently looking over the most recent proposal, but with negotiations between both sides having stalled and talks broken off, the possibility of a full-blown strike continues to loom.

Tory said that so far the only response the city had received about its proposal was that the mediator was no longer required.

“The only response we had to it was the dismissal of the mediator and we need that mediator back on the job and we need to know that if that mediator is back on the job, we need to know from him that there is some prospect of there being constructive discussion because otherwise we’re left in a position where we put forward a fair and reasonable and complete offer and got only the dismissal of the mediator as a response.”

Union president Tim Maguire spoke to the media Monday afternoon and said that while face-to-face negotiations would not resume, the union would be re-engaging with the mediator.

“No one dismissed the mediator over the weekend,” Maguire said. “I called to clarify the situation with the mediator as soon as I realized there was a misunderstanding. We have talked to the mediator today, we are providing him with responses to the city’s document.”

He added that they would be submitting a counter-proposal which continues to “assert our members’ interest in maintaining stable jobs at the city.”

“Our priority remains to work with the city so that the city can be a leader in providing good, stable, full-time jobs and good, stable, part-time jobs,” Maguire said.

The union, which has been without a contract since Dec. 31, has been on a work-to-rule campaign since last Monday.

Tory said the city will return to the bargaining table when there is a clear signal it would be productive.

“We want to secure a negotiated agreement, but to get there we need a willing partner,” Tory said. “I remain confident that a negotiated agreement can be achieved.”

“This is a fair, responsible offer that meets the needs of both our employees and the city’s taxpayers and we are proud to put it forward,” he continued.