Toronto mayor to union bosses: end strike or I’ll take collective agreements

The first 60 people at Omicron-98 will go to trial in the month of May with daily extensiveness from Monday to Friday.

TORONTO — The mayor of Toronto has moved to get city workers back to work in January after a record-breaking strike on the weekend of Boxing Day, but he also indicated it’s up to union officials to make the first move towards ending the longest in city history.

Mayor John Tory said on Thursday that he expects the 60 people who walked off the job at Omicron-98 — part of the Toronto Public Health Department — to plead guilty in the month of May with daily extensiveness from Monday to Friday. The strike only ended on the fifth day of the work stoppage.

While the strike was the longest and costliest strike in Toronto history, Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Louise Botham ruled on Monday that the city had to pay the workers for the last weeks of the strike. Tory and the City of Toronto have since refused to pay the workers more than their scheduled wage increases.

The days of uncertainty surrounding the no-union contracts for Omicron employees — as well as eight other groups of workers — are set to come to an end, Tory said on Thursday, while a labour dispute in neighbouring communities escalates.

Tory asked city lawyers on Wednesday to prepare motions asking Superior Court Judge Kenneth Karasuk to let them enter into individual settlements with each of the unions involved in the no-collective bargaining agreements, including the City of Mississauga, the city of Brampton, the city of Vaughan, the Village of Tecumseh, and the Windsor Port Authority. Each group represents about 3,000 city workers.

“I will make an application asking for motions to enter to each of the unions,” Tory said. “I think we’ve settled a number of the positions but I’d like to have a fair and open process to see if we can settle any issues and if we can not we’ll be back in court on those matters.”

As of Monday afternoon, a court hearing on whether the city can seek additional relief is still not scheduled. The case is expected to continue in Toronto after May.

Omicron workers at both O’Connor and Yonge Streets had moved on from a court action to claim the Ontario Labour Relations Board gave them a collective agreement after taking no binding votes at their open conference in November. They were part of the City of Toronto’s first collective agreement with its unions in more than five years. However, their classes had not yet expired so they were issued wage extensions through December.

The judge’s ruling has not changed the contract, but adds to the uncertainty for workers at other unions, who had considered collective agreements at the same time in November, but have not yet reached a settlement. City officials say many new positions added in recent years to their job lists will expire in June, while some permanent employees will not have received six-month extensions by March 31, meaning they will be among the 85% of employees eligible for the wage increases.

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April 2017

Average month-over-month (m-o-m) sales change 8.3%

Prices change (m-o-m) 1.8%

*Active listings change (m-o-m) -6.1%

Closings change (m-o-m) -4.8%


On Monday, lawyers representing the workers won an initial court battle when a judge gave them permission to present a case to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to try to recoup wages they claim they are owed from the city. City lawyers have appealed that ruling.

Ontario’s labour relations authority determines whether or not a collective agreement is legally binding. Ultimately, the Ontario Labour Relations Board has the power to decide whether a collective agreement is illegal.

“We have said the dates for hearings and we hope to get those hearing dates,” Tory said. “It is a very long process but we’re prepared to move forward in that process.”

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