The war of words is just beginning and it looks almost certain that Toronto’s outside workers will be locked out. At a press conference on Friday, a visibly shaken Mark Ferguson seemed a little out of his depth when compared to the resolve and experience of Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday. This is a battle that Team Ford are eagerly anticipating as it will distract from everything other than the weekly weigh-in and has the potential to revive the flagging fortunes of Ford Nation. Union bashing is increasingly popular these days and here’s a chance for the sagging right wing to win back a few points if they can engage with the union.
Looking at the ‘Final Offer‘ it has some aspects that are quite interesting. Firstly regarding pay, the union has offered a wage freeze. The city has insisted on an increase, but in the form of lump sum payments averaging 1.5% annually rather than additions to salary. Salaries would increase by 1.75% in 2015. This approach limits pension increases—but still is puzzling if the City could have had a freeze. Combing through the offer there are various downward tweaks to sick leave and medical benefits, but the real bombshell is quickly found;
Employment Security: Delete Letter of Agreement protecting ALL Permanent Employees when work is contracted out (LOA from 2005)
This is basically a termination notice for employees with less than 22 years’ seniority whenever jobs are contracted out and will be key to ending jobs as soon as a private contractor can be hired. In addition, actual notice of termination drops from 2 months to two weeks.
The union will be fighting for survival, and therefore it is likely that this will become a long and bitter dispute. You can be sure that other city employees will be watching this intently.
Update: A tentative agreement has been reached; it will be interesting see what has happened to the employment security clause and other contentious issues. Both sides are to be congratulated for averting a disruption of services.