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City outside workers union cries foul over garbage outsourcing report

Scarborough Mirror Jan 12, 2017 David Nickle

The union representing Toronto’s garbage workers is crying foul on the release of a report recommending that Toronto contract out garbage collection in Scarborough.

“It is incredibly disappointing that the Mayor and Senior Management are pushing to privatize garbage collection in Scarborough and kicking hard-working men and women to the curb in order to achieve an ideological objective,” said CUPE Local 416 President Eddie Mariconda in a written statement Jan. 11.

Mariconda and the union represented garbage workers were responding to a city staff report recommending that Toronto continue to contract out more garbage collection, after it moved in 2013 to contract out all garbage collection east of Yonge Street.

The report, which follows an earlier 2015 report recommending that the city keep the eastern half of town serviced by city garbage trucks, was released Jan. 11 with very different recommendations.

Now, it recommends that the city contract out garbage collection in Scarborough — leaving just one District, between Yonge Street and Victoria Park Avenue — with city collection service.

Under the plan, CUPE Local 416 would be able to bid for the right to keep working in Scarborough. The union might be competitive there; an Ernst & Young LLP report in 2015 found that Scarborough collection had the lowest cost per stop of any in the city.

But Mariconda said that the “managed competition” approach amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment to suggest the privatization of Scarborough when the facts show we already provide high quality, competitive service there.”

He added: “We will be expected to bid with the very management that has produced a report favouring privatization.”

CUPE 416 will have allies on council. Scarborough Agincourt Councillor Jim Karygiannis said he will be opposing the privatization plans.

“The men and women of 416 are hardworking individuals and they are working to make sure we save money,” said Karygiannis. “When this report was ordered last year I said I bet you dollars to doughnuts the new report reflects what the mayor wants.”

Parkdale-High Park Councillor Gord Perks called it absurd to suggest that contracting out would save money.

“We know that public service is less expensive than contracting out and has better accountability,” he said. “This is going to hurt Torontonians with no public benefit because of the mayor’s deep ideological commitment.”

Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong was chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee when Council last contracted out garbage collection in District 2, between Yonge Street and the Humber River.

He maintains that the move will save the public $88 million over the course of the contract.

He said it makes sense to do Scarborough but leave District 3, because of operational complexities there, and also collective agreement issues.

“My interest is to make sure that we have great garbage collection at the best price,” he said. “What we do know from District 2 is there are growing pains. We have to make sure that each and every home gets reliable service.”

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