April 2, 2012
Toronto’s municipal government is expecting to save $50-million in labour-related costs over four years after council ratified a new collective agreement with most of the city’s inside workers.
Council approved the deal 40 to 1 Monday, with only left-leaning Councillor Paula Fletcher voting against the contract for two of CUPE Local 79’s four bargaining units.
“There won’t be any labour disruptions over the next four years,” Mayor Rob Ford told reporters after the vote. “The union’s happy, we’re happy and now we can get ready to host the  Pan Am Games.”
Council’s strong endorsement was another piece of good news on the labour front for Mr. Ford.
In February, his administration reached a negotiated settlement with 6,000 outside workers; last week, it settled a 10-day library strike and reached a tentative settlement with part-time recreation workers who had voted against the city’s initial offer. Recreation workers vote Tuesday on a tweaked offer recommended by their union leadership.
Local 79’s fourth bargaining unit – made up of workers in old-age homes – will see their issues settled at arbitration.
As the contract debate unfolded Monday morning, politicians recently at odds with the mayor took the opportunity to praise him for wringing concessions from Local 79, the city’s largest union, without a strike or lockout.
The new contract grants inside workers a 6-per-cent pay increase over four years. It also gives management more control over scheduling, rolls back some benefits and restricts job security to workers with 15 years or more experience, opening the door to more contracting out.
“I want to acknowledge the role that Mayor Ford played because he made it very clear early in his mandate that the political will would be there,” said TTC Karen Stintz, the erstwhile ally who crushed the mayor’s subway ambitions last month. “If it wasn’t for that, I don’t think we would be here today.”
Mr. Ford kept a low public profile during the negotiations, leaving Doug Holyday, the deputy mayor, and Bruce Anderson, the city’s executive director of human resources, to handle media queries.
Councillor Josh Matlow congratulated Mr. Ford “for what he didn’t do, which was throw any oil on the flames.”
“He always said he wanted to arrive at an agreement and he did arrive at an agreement,” Mr. Matlow added.
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