NEWS

Toronto inside workers to vote on city's final offer

03/26/2012 03:22 EDT | Updated 05/25/2012 05:12 EDT

The union representing Toronto's 23,000 inside workers plans to hold a vote Wednesday on whether to ratify the city's final contract offer.

CUPE Local 79 president Tim Maguire said the offer will be put to union members for a vote "without recommendation" on whether to ratify or reject it.

"We were able to achieve settlement on many issues; there were some on which we were not able to achieve settlement despite Local 79's effort to find middle ground," Maguire told reporters early Monday morning — two days after a negotiation deadline passed.

"The city decided not to continue negotiations on those outstanding matters."

CUPE Local 79 — which represents daycare workers, clerks, child care workers, nurses, janitors and community centre employees — voted in favour of a strike mandate last week. The union said it had no immediate plans for a walkout, but would take action if the city tries to act unilaterally to impose terms that would withdraw basic rights from workers.

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday called the offer "fair and reasonable to the employees and to the taxpayers of Toronto."

He said the city is offering a four-year term similar to an agreement it reached with CUPE Local 416, which represents 6,000 outside workers. That agreement, ratified last month, included wage increases but clawed back on job security.

"I am confident that the membership will ratify this deal," Holyday said.

If the union rejects the proposed deal, negotiations could resume without affecting city services, the union could walk off the job or the city could lock out the workers. In the event that workers vote against ratification, Maguire said he would wait to see what action the city would take next.

The city's offer includes "significant changes to the contracts" under discussion, Maguire said. He described the union's decision not to issue a recommendation on the proposed deal as "unprecedented."

Magurie also said the city has indicated it will impose the terms of the offer if it is not accepted by union members in Wednesday's vote.

“The city pulled away from the bargaining table and said ‘accept these final offers or they will be imposed.' Maguire said Monday. "These are not a negotiated settlements, this is not a deal.”

Torontonians relying on services provided by CUPE Local 79 members, including daycare and custodial services, have been waiting to hear whether the ongoing labour dispute will lead to a disruption in service.

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

As with the city's outside workers and the library dispute, the issue of job security looms large in the negotiations. The city's librarians have been on strike since last weekend.

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