Councillor Josh Matlow

Toronto Sun: Ford and unions still at loggerheads

December 1, 2011


A bid to strip Mayor Rob Ford’s handpicked employee and labour relations committee of the ability to start a lockout lost at city council Thursday.


Left-leaning councillors defended the ill-fated move to give the final say in a lockout to council as a way to preserve democracy while Ford’s allies accused them of being “pro-union” and trying to interfere with labour relations.


Council voted 20 to 19 against having a full debate on Councillor John Filion’s lockout motion.


Filion argued he hadn’t raised the issue before Ford took office because he didn’t know until two months ago that the committee had the power to declare a lockout.


“If I had known under the previous government I would have made the same motion,” he said.


Councillor Josh Matlow stressed the move wasn’t “pro-union” but a “democratic motion.”


“If you believe in democracy, vote for this motion,” Matlow told council.


After the vote, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, chairman of the employee and labour relations committee, accused those pushing the motion of trying to weaken the city’s bargaining position.


“It makes you wonder where the heck they are all coming from and whose side they are on,” Holyday said. “It is hard to fight the union when some of the union’s top representatives are sitting right on council.”


Holyday called the 19 votes in favour of debating the lockout motion “the pro-labour side of this council sticking up for their CUPE union friends.”


“I think it is ridiculous that they would do such a thing,” he said.


CUPE Local 416 president Mark Ferguson said the vote, which he didn’t expect to pass, emphasizes Ford’s administration “is bent on locking its employees out.”


“We hope that that is not the case and the two sides will come together at the bargaining table but at the same time the parties are extremely far apart and we need to bridge that gap somehow,” he said.


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