Negotiations between the city-owned Exhibition Place and nearly 400 locked out stagehands and technical staff have hit a roadblock and the union representing the workers says that the next round of talks scheduled for Sunday are “now in jeopardy.”
Talks between the Exhibition Place board and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 58 resumed on Friday but in a statement issued on Saturday morning the union accused the board of not being interested in reaching a negotiated settlement.
The union said that members of the board’s negotiating team walked away from negotiations after about 12 hours stating that they had a “clear mandate not to consider concessions on contracting out IATSE jobs on ExPlace grounds.”
“The main roadblock remains ExPlace’s refusal to take contracting out IATSE work at the 192-acre-site off the table,” the statement reads. “IATSE local 58 returned to the negotiations ready to bargain with proposals to modernize and find efficiencies in the contract but the city refused to budge on contracting out language. Requests from the union for examples of what kind of movement would need to be seen on this issue in order to move negotiations forward were ignored.”
Lockout has impacted CNE attendance
Negotiations between IATSE Local 58 and the Exhibition Place came just a few days after a closed-door meeting of council to discuss the ongoing lockout.
Prior to that meeting, the chief executive officer of the CNE penned an open letter to Mayor John Tory and members of council advising them that the ongoing labour dispute could result in a loss of $1.5 million at this year’s fair.
In the letter, Virginia Ludy said that picketing at the gates to the CNE along with the “sustained negative social media activities of IATSE and the resulting media coverage” have depressed ticket sales.
Speaking with CP24 on Saturday, IATSE Local 58 President Justin Antheunis said that while the union was hopeful that the resumption of negotiations would lead to real progress, he said that it quickly became clear that the board is only “paying lip service to what city council wanted.”
“The board never actually came to the table with any movement on the contracting out language. We came to the table with ideas and things that would help modernize the contract here like they have been saying in the media but it turns out that that is really not what they wanted,” he said.
Antheunis said that the union remains willing to “work around the clock” on negotiating a collective agreement but he said that a resolution is unlikely as long as the board insists on using language that will allow it to contract out work that would otherwise go to IATSE Local 58 members.
Asked about that stumbling block at a community event in Scarborough on Saturday afternoon, Mayor John Tory said that there are “always ways to solve these things” and urged both the board and the union to return to the table.
“It really relates as much as anything else relates to the approach you take to the table, the attitude you take to the table and the fact that you are at the table. They had a good solid session over the last 24 hours and I just hope they keep at because you certainly won’t reach an agreement if you are not talking,” he said.
Members of IATSE Local 58 have been locked out since July 20.
Though Exhibition Place is owned by the city, collective bargaining with IATSE Local 58 is the responsibility of the Exhibition Place board, which is made up of five city councillors and four members appointed from the public.