TORONTO, July 19, 2018 /CNW/ - The Board of Governors of Exhibition Place voted today to lock out members of IATSE Local 58 as of 12:01 a.m. this Friday. The affected workers provide all the technical and staging expertise for events in major venues at Exhibition Place including BMO Field, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Coca Cola Coliseum (formerly Ricoh), Enercare Centre, the Liberty Grand, and others.
Exhibition Place is landlord and host to the 192 acre property where major events such as the CNE, Royal Winter Fair, Honda Indy, Argonaut CFL football games, Toronto Football Club soccer games and others take place.
This unprecedented lockout comes after months of negotiations for a new collective agreement. The union says it was clear from the outset of talks that the Board of Governors did not want to reach an agreement.
"We have been negotiating in good faith, and reasonably, for many months," says Justin Antheunis, President of Local 58. "Our skilled members have helped make the events at Exhibition Place successful and safe for nearly a century. We had a generally good labour/management relationship with Exhibition Place for decades."
"Led by Mayor Tory, however, the city risks ruining the CNE by locking us out of Exhibition Place," says Antheunis.
In fact, the safety of all events at Exhibition Place will be compromised by companies bringing in less skilled workers to set up and supervise events. The plan is being driven by the Mayor's office, to the benefit of the major corporations, such as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, that mount events at venues on Exhibition Place.
Tory has apparently forgotten the 2012 disaster at the Radiohead concert when non-union staff at Downsview Park set up a stage that collapsed, killing a drum tech.
Could it be that Tory feels empowered by Premier Doug Ford's election? The timing of this lockout coincides with recent back-to-work legislation at York University. Ford has made it publicly known that he will draft any back-to-work legislation upon employer request.
Exhibition Place has asked Local 58 to suspend picketing until after the CNE closes, Antheunis says.
"That's not going to happen," he says. "We are not going to surrender our rights under the law and jeopardize the safety of Torontonians and other visitors to Exhibition Place as a favour to Tory's friends. Nor will we put visitors at risk. We will not be pushed around."
"Locked Out" picketing will begin at major Exhibition Place gates when the union receives the employer notice.
SOURCE IATSE Local 58
For further information: Justin Antheunis will be available for live interviews on the picket line at Strachan Ave and Lakeshore West, at 4:00 p.m., Friday, July 20. Phone: 416-364-5565.