AGO workers vote 96% to strike for fair contract

Layoffs announced while Matthew Teitelbaum reigns as 'million-dollar man.'

Matthew Teitelbaum. AGO's Million Dollar ManToronto (7 April 2010) -  Workers at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) have voted 96% in favour of a strike, declaring their readiness to walk out if necessary to reach a fair collective agreement.

The vote was taken as 39 employees were due to be let go by the gallery and as figures were released showing that AGO director Matthew Teitelbaum received nearly $1 million last year.

“The AGO's lack of respect for their employees is highlighted by their CEO’s salary,” says OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

“First they pay out a massive bonus to Matthew Teitelbaum and now they cut the jobs of the front-line workers who provide the quality services that the public depends on.”

Paula Whitmore, a spokesperson for the workers, says the AGO has destabilized the bargaining process by announcing layoffs during negotiations. A meeting with a conciliator is scheduled on April 14.

The AGO announced in February that it will receive $7.5 million from the federal Infrastructure Stimulus Fund. It is to be used to help fund a new Weston Family Learning Centre. Staffing plans for the new venture have not been disclosed.

The employees are members of Local 535 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE). They have been without a contract since November 2009. Key issues in negotiations have been job security and layoffs.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

More information:
A million reasons why AGO's Michael Tietelbaum had a great year in 2009