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Ford in for a fight as union contracts expire

by John Lorinc

Call it Rob Ford’s year of living dangerously.

The new mayor wasted little time this week in his crusade to derail the so-called gravy train, pledging to deliver a property tax freeze, an end to Transit City light rail projects and the cancellation of the vehicle registration tax, which raises $60-million annually.

But from a financial point of view, the main event really begins in the new year, when the city, the TTC and the Toronto Police Service sit down to negotiate various labour contracts that play a huge role in driving the city’s operating costs.

The police contract will be the first up, with talks starting in early January. Former TPS vice-chair Pam McConnell has a warning for the new mayor: “You can’t take the police negotiation in isolation. It’s one strand of a woven fabric. Each one of the negotiations will affect the other, and the combination will affect the [city] budget. … I think they’re going into a swamp right up to their arms.”

Coming battles in Toronto

December, 2010: TTC essential service debate at council

January, 2011: Bargaining begins for police contract

February: Bargaining between TTC and transit unions begins

March: Transit union contracts expire

July: City gives CUPE 416 three-month notice it intends to privatize garbage collection

September: Toronto Police Service contract arbitration due

October: Firefighter contract arbitration decision due

December: Dec. 31: CUPE 416/79 contract expires

January 1, 2012: City could lock out CUPE employees

Special to the Globe and Mail