City reveals strike settlement offer to the public

Miller puts all his cards on the table

For the first time since the high stakes game between the city and its striking unions began, the mayor gambled by publicly revealing his cards.

Since the strike began June 22, the city has held its cards close to their chest. Today that changed.

The city laid out what it considers a winning hand by offering striking employees a wage hike of 7.2 percent spread over four years.

The contract proposal starts with a one-percent raise this year, the same next year, followed by a two percent hike in 2011 and three percent in 2012.

 “Over the last three weeks employees and Torontonians have been given very little information. There are good reasons for that as it’s always better to negotiate at the table than through the media,” Mayor David Miller said at a press conference this morning. “Yesterday our negotiators tabled an offer that I believe should allow us to end this strike today.

“After more than 160 meetings with the two union locals and provincial conciliators, we are ready to reveal details of this offer to ensure that Torontonians and city workers are well informed on key bargaining issues.”

Another sticking point between the two sides focuses on banking sick days. The city wants to scrap the system that allows most union members to bank unused sick days and then cash them in upon retiring or leaving the city’s employ. As of Dec. 31 2007, employees for two unions had banked sick days worth $140 million, according to a 19-page city document released at the press conference.

The city presented a formula to pay out a portion of banked sick days for employees who have accumulated them under the current system. Starting Nov. 1, the city would replace the sick leave plan with a short-term disability package that allows employees up to six months of sick pay a year with no ability to carryover unused sick days.

While the city waits for a response to its offer, it continues to negotiate with the two unions, the mayor said.

“The city and CUPE locals 416 and 79 are still at the bargaining table working to reach an agreement,” said Miller. “I wish we were here to deliver better news to our employees and Torontonians who have had to endure 19 days without full city services.
After nearly three weeks of a strike, Miller said he has not seen a serious sign that negotiators want a settlement.

“I said a week ago that enough is enough but even as our negotiators have shown good will at the table,” he said. “The unions have maintained a position that at best can be described as unrealistic.

“We want our employees back and Torontonians want their services and their city back to normal,” he added. “In making the offer the city has clearly stated again that arbitration is not seen as a resolution to the strike.”

In 2002, city staff received a 3 percent raise over three years from an arbitrator.

“That would simply not be affordable for the city today,” Miller said.

Kevin Sack, director of corporate communications, said a one percent wage increase for the striking workers would cost the city about $11 million a year. 

Calls to CUPE locals 416 and 79 were not returned by deadline.

Tell us what you think by voting in our latest online poll about the city’s contract offer.

About this article:

By: Kris Scheuer
Posted: Jul 10 2009 4:33 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto