03/21/2012 11:58 EDT | Updated 05/21/2012 05:12 EDT

Toronto inside workers give overwhelming strike mandate

The union that represents Toronto's 23,000 inside workers say it has received an overwhelming strike mandate from its union members.

Tim Maguire, president of CUPE Local 79, said Wednesday morning that more than 85 per cent of those who voted supported the union's position in its negotiations with the city for a new collective agreement.

"Local 79 members showed up in historic numbers to give the Local 79 bargaining committee a strike mandate," Maguire told a news conference at City Hall.

"We have a mandate. That mandate is over 85 per cent strong," he said.

The union has accused the city of bargaining in bad faith and complained to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

Maguire said although the negotiations have been tough, the union doesn't have any immediate plan to strike.

"We're not walking off the job if there's not a collective agreement in place at 12:01 (a.m. Saturday). Our goal is to get collective agreements by that time," he said.

But the union president said they would take action if the city tries to strip "fundamental working rights" from union members.

If a strike does become inevitable, Maguire said the union will give the public "sufficient notice."

CUPE Local 79 represents daycare workers, clerks, child care workers, nurses, janitors, and community centre employees. The union's contract with the city expired on Dec. 31, 2011.

A strike would affect most city services, and likely mean a closure of recreation centres and swimming pools across Toronto.

The city is currently in a labour dispute with its' library workers, who went out on strike on Sunday.

Last month the city's outside workers - represented by CUPE Local 416 - ratified a four-year agreement that included wage increases but clawed back job security.

A crucial issue in all of the negotiations has been job security.