Rob Ford and his allies continue to control the PR game over contract negotiations with city unions

Rob Ford and his allies continue to control the PR game over contract negotiations with city unions

(Image: Christopher Drost)

The Rob Ford administration has already fired the first volleys of the New Year in the ongoing public relations battle with CUPE over current labour negotiations. In a column in the Toronto Sun, Doug Holyday criticized the city’s unions and their “terms and conditions of employment” before following suit with an appearance on the CBC’s Metro Morning yesterday, alongside CUPE Local 416 president Mark Ferguson, where he laid the onus for a work stoppage clearly at the feet of organized labour.

An excerpt from this morning’s broadcast:

Host Matt Galloway: Some people say this is building the case for a lockout. Is it?

Holyday: It’s not. It’s just letting the residents know what our difficulties are. We’re not negotiating these points with these people through the paper. But the residents are entitled to know what they’re paying for and why we’re taking the position we’re taking on some of these matters with the union. And if the taxpayers still want to keep paying for all this, by all means let me know. But the people that I’ve spoken to and explained some of these matters to say, ‘What the heck’s going on?’

Galloway: Do you expect your employees to be locked out?

Ferguson: I do expect that this city is aiming for a work disruption, that in fact there has been contingency planning in place over the last three months, where we know that they are planning for a labour disruption. We want to get back to the table and negotiate a common sense resolution to the difference between the parties.

Galloway: Will your workers go on strike?

Ferguson: We’re not aiming for a strike at this point. This is completely in the hands of the city. If there is a labour disruption, it will be at the feet of this administration.

Galloway: Doug Holyday, do you anticipate a lockout?

Holyday: No I don’t. And the only one talking about a lockout so far has been Mark Ferguson.

We’ve already noted that the mayor and his allies have upper hand in the public relations battle. With the 2009 municipal workers’ strike still fresh in the city’s collective conscience, the playing field is severely slanted against Ferguson and the unions, and the city appears to have no problem making that point again and again. Earlier in that same interview, Holyday argued that both parties could have already reached an agreement, but “the union always likes to play this out until the good weather, until the tourists come to town, until it’s hard to deal with the garbage.” Surely, this kind of rhetoric is a sign of things to come.

Lockout? [Metro Morning]