TORONTO, Sept. 5, 2018 /CNW/ - IATSE Local 58, the union representing more than 400 skilled theatrical and event technicians locked out by the Exhibition Place Board of Governors since July 20, is refuting several claims made in a statement released to the media this morning by Councillor Mark Grimes, Mayor John Tory's appointed representative on the Board.
Grimes, who has yet to engage directly with IATSE Local 58 except via insults levelled through the media, claims that the city has negotiated in good faith, bringing forward proposals that addressed the union's concerns. This is patently false. Local 58 has made unprecedented concessions in an effort to reach an agreement that would be fair to both the city and workers. All of these concessions have been refused by the city, or ignored completely.
By comparison, the city's proposals have had only one endgame: to break the union. Every clause that ensures the highly skilled technical workers represented by Local 58 continue to do the exemplary work they have been doing on Exhibition Place grounds for decades has been deleted or modified to such a degree that Local 58 stagehands would be severely limited in their capacity to work on the grounds. The claim that lowering rates of pay and allowing contracting out of IATSE jobs would increase bookings and therefore work for Local 58 stagehands is completely nonsensical, given that the city is trying to prevent Local 58 workers from performing the majority of the positions these new bookings would create.
To suggest that IATSE stagehands, who must undertake an apprenticeship to gain full membership, undergo rigorous safety and technical training, and constantly upgrade their skills in order to use the latest technology are somehow not as qualified or skilled as outside workers the city is proposing to allow clients to bring in to act as operators on events is not only untrue but insulting. IATSE stagehands are known industry-wide for their expertise and professionalism. They are the skilled technicians who work behind the scenes in venues across the city, for companies including Mirvish, Canadian Stage, Soulpepper Theatre, National Ballet of Canada, the Canadian Opera Company, and dozens of others, including the city-owned Civic Theatres Toronto, for which a contract was recently renegotiated successfully without any contracting-out language. As evidenced by the continued use of Local 58 stagehands as the exclusive skilled technical personnel for these venues and corporations, the union is more than capable of providing skilled technicians for any and all of the events on Exhibition Place grounds.
It is also false to suggest that the Exhibition Place contract under renegotiation is based, as Grimes claims, on conditions intended for a "stadium that was demolished 20 years ago." The ExPlace contract has been continually updated and amended every two to five years to reflect the new venues on site, as well as the changing needs of patrons and event suppliers. The rates of pay, which were not contested by the city, are comparable and competitive with those of similar venues in other large urban areas. Exhibition Place concerns about other issues including job shadowing, overtime rates, and minimum calls were all addressed and compromises were proposed by Local 58, but ultimately rejected. It simply cannot truthfully be said that the union did not put forward solutions that would entirely benefit the city. Despite repeated requests by Local 58 for the city to engage in binding arbitration, the Exhibition Place Board of Governors has refused, which is clearly an indication that they know their demands are unreasonable, and no arbitrator would rule in their favour.
"Local 58 came to the table to negotiate a fair deal for workers," says IATSE Local 58 president Justin Antheunis. "In this age of precarious employment and growing financial insecurity, it is shameful that the City of Toronto and Mark Grimes would endeavor to take good jobs away from hardworking Torontonians in a bid to appease their corporate buddies and increase the earnings of corporations more concerned with profits than people."
SOURCE IATSE Local 58
For further information: Media contact: Justin Antheunis, [email protected], 647-241-5588