City and unions strike a deal

Tentative agreement between city and striking CUPE members
Unions to take new contract to vote as soon as July 29

Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written July 27 for Town Crier.)
The city reached a settlement today to end the 36-day strike, Mayor David Miller announced this afternoon. 
“Without question this has been a difficult period for everyone,” Miller said at a 3:30 p.m. press conference.
“It’s good news for the 30,000 women and men who can now get back to doing the jobs they do so well. It’s especially good news for the residents and businesses that count on city services especially the families and children who have been struggling without access to city run daycares, camps and pools.” 
Miller thanked Torontonians for their patience and co-operation “under very difficult circumstances.”He asked for continued understanding as all city services get back up to normal levels. The tentative agreements with both unions have to be voted on by city employees and the 45-member city council. 
Miller said the unions could bring the deal to their members as early as Wednesday. If the city employees approve the new contract, then council could vote on the deal as early as Friday.However, city manager Joseph Pennachetti cautioned that it still may be a while before all the workers are back on the job.
“Full resumption of several city services will take place over several days as the city puts staff back on the job and ensures equipment is in good working order.
“Other programs will take time to get back to pre-strike levels while we clear any backlog in service requests. Overcoming the affects of this strike will take time. I will work with our unions and all city staff to ensure the workplace functions well for the people of Toronto.” 
Neither Miller nor Pennachetti could nail down exactly when each service, from garbage pick-up to community centres, will be running again. 
Pennachetti suggested Torontonians check for updates on the city’s website or call Access Toronto for details on services at 416-338-0338.
In terms of what the new proposed contract will cost taxpayers, the details won’t be revealed until after council ratifies the deal. 
Eglinton-Lawrence councillor Karen Stintz says she is looking for a deal that’s affordable before she will give it her stamp of approval.
“We do need to see what the details of the deal are,” she said today. “We need to see the sick days being replaced by a short-term disability plan. We need to see wages that are in line with what was agreed to by the Labour Relations Committee and we need to make sure this is in fact affordable for the city. And those are things I will be looking for before I cast my vote.” 
Miller indicated the tentative deal is in accordance with what the Labour Relations Committee recommended a few weeks ago. 
Councillor Doug Holyday is a member of that committee and told the Town Crier the recommendation to the city’s negotiators was very close to the deal made public on July 10.
That included an offer of wage hikes of 1, 1, 2 and 3 percent over the next four years and the end to banking sick days and having them paid out by the city. 
Holyday, former Etobicoke mayor, oversaw the contracting out of garbage in the former municipality in 1995. He suggested council should look at something similar for the amalgamated City of Toronto as a way to save money and avoid strikes. 
“Maybe in a city the size of Toronto we wouldn’t contract it all out or to (just) one contractor,” Holyday said.
But that’s not part of the current contract up for a vote.
As the city inches closer to a deal being signed, Miller was optimistic. Casting his eyes to outside city hall, he remarked that after days of rain the sun was shining.
“The next challenge is bringing summer back.”
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