Workers at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79, are bargaining to enhance safety, improve quality, and ensure affordability for Torontonians who rely on social housing. The union has requested a “no-board” report from the Ministry of Labour, following TCHC’s targeting of job security, seniority rights, parental/maternity leave, and its refusal to consider health and safety policies that would keep its employees safe. Once the report is issued, both parties will be in a 17-day countdown to a legal strike or lockout position.
“Our goal in bargaining is to secure and enhance services that families rely on,” says Dave Mitchell, President of CUPE Local 79. “Families have been and continue to be hurt by Toronto’s inadequate housing strategy—more than 79,000 people remain on waitlists for social housing. TCHC residents were especially hard-hit by COVID-19, and Local 79 members are struggling to reconcile increased workloads, years of leadership-level turnover and constant and costly reorganizations, with a lack of support from their employer.”
Local 79 members are serving tenants with increasingly complex needs, as 43% of TCHC households have a member with a disability and 26% are headed by a single parent. In 2020, members conducted more than 19,000 wellness checks and made thousands of referrals to supports for high-risk tenants.
“Eroding workplace rights and failing to safeguard workers from avoidable job loss is a real disservice to our frontline heroes who continue to come to work every day during the pandemic to help those who need it most,” continued Mitchell. “We can’t address Toronto’s housing crisis by sacrificing the rights of workers.”
CUPE Local 79 recently obtained an overwhelming strike mandate from its cohort of 700 housing workers. The local began negotiations with TCHC in September 2020.
CUPE Local 79 represents full and part-time workers at TCHC, the largest social housing provider in Canada and the second largest in North America.