Last week the University of Toronto provided CUPE 3261 with notice that caretaking work will be contracted out in the following three buildings at the St. George campus as of Labour Day, 2021:
Bahen Centre of Information Technology
University of Toronto School
703 Spadina Avenue
U of T claims that this is because private, for-profit contractors will be performing COVID-related cleaning work in these buildings. CUPE 3261 members working as caretakers will be reassigned to other work and existing bargaining unit employers will not face negative impact because of the Collective Agreement language we have won over the years. However, we are disappointed that approximately 18 CUPE 3261 positions will be lost to attrition.
It is unacceptable that U of T is reducing its labour costs at the expense of primarily racialized workers. For-profit cleaning companies save labour costs because workers are paid at least $7/hour LESS than CUPE 3261 workers. They also do not receive the benefits that CUPE 3261 members get as workers employed directly by the University.
The solution to funding shortfalls within the University is to increase government funding into post secondary education. The University also has the ability to make fair and equitable resource allocation decisions. CUPE 3261 is disappointed to see U of T go further down the path of privatizing cleaning work, eroding decent work, and increasing inequality on our campus.
CUPE 3261 will continue to campaign against privatization. As part of a union, you and your coworkers are stronger than one worker, and together we can defend high quality, fairly compensated work at U of T. At a time when so many of us are facing income insecurity, U of T’s plan to hire low-paid workers serves to only worsen our collective situation. Instead, U of T has an opportunity to offer high-quality employment to both our members and the broader community. U of T must hold itself to the principles of equity it claims to uphold good working conditions, quality health and safety, and an equitable campus environment. Please stay tuned for more details about our campaign.
If you have any questions about how this affects you, please contact Allan James, President of CUPE 3261.