Toronto inside workers reach tentative agreement with the City

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Photo: flickr/ Jenni C

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A tentative agreement has been reached between the City of Toronto and its inside workers early this morning.

The 20,000 frontline workers, represented by CUPE local 79, began a work-to-rule campaign two weeks ago after four months of unsuccessful negotiations between its bargaining committee and the City.

Local 79 president Tim Maguire told media this morning four collective agreements covering its members, which include the City's nurses, cleaners, child-care staff and social service employees, would be considered by workers in the coming days.

"It was a tough round of negotiations," he said.

"We moved forward on some issues and we were able to push back on deep concessions."

Maguire refused to discuss details of the agreements, which if ratified by members will then be voted on by the City council for approval.

Throughout the bargaining process, which took place alongside negotiations for a new agreement for the City's outside workers -- represented by CUPE local 416 -- Maguire and his team labelled proposed changes by the City to benefit schemes and job security as the worst it had ever seen.

While he was relieved a tentative agreement had been reached, Maguire acknowledged workers faced a huge challenge in keeping collective rights earned over years of bargaining.

"We are in an era of aggressive bargaining," Maguire said.

Reluctance by the City to commit to job stability showed the difficulties unions faced at the bargaining table.

"We faced … an employer reluctant to deal with many of the issues with respect to moving forward on good jobs," he said. 

The City should be moving towards increasing stability around these sorts of jobs, rather than away from it.

"We were able to achieve the best collective agreements we were able to achieve under the current circumstances."

The local 79 executive will be recommending the ratification of the collective agreements to its members, Maguire said.

The new collective agreement for CUPE local 416, which represents about 5,000 outdoor service staff at the City, was approved by the City council on Monday.


Teuila Fuatai is a recent transplant to Canada from Auckland, New Zealand. She settled in Toronto in September following a five-month travel stint around the United States. In New Zealand, she worked as a general news reporter for the New Zealand Herald and APNZ News Service for four years after studying accounting, communication and politics at the University of Otago. As a student, she had her own radio show on the local university station and wrote for the student magazine. She is rabble's labour beat reporter this year.

Photo: flickr/ Jenni C

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