More than 400 AGO workers walk off the job

More than 400 AGO workers walk off the job

More than 400 AGO workers walk off the job

The Art Gallery of Ontario is closed today due to a strike by some of its workers. CP24’s Beatrice Vasan is live outside of the AGO with more on this story. Good morning, Beatrice.

Good morning, Jen and Nick. Some 430 workers, OPSU workers from the AGO, are going to be on the picket lines as of 8:00 this morning. You might see them starting to mobilize behind me, some of the early birds arriving here. These are everyone from Hospitality to maintenance workers. Let’s find out what’s at stake here with Megan Christu from the OPSU bargaining team.

Good morning, Megan. Tell me about what’s going on.

Yeah, so this morning, we are on our very first day of strike. This is also the first strike in the history of our Union here at the AGO for over 30 years. And we’re asking for better working conditions, better respect in terms of wages, but also raising the roof for our precarious members. Sixty percent of our membership, just a little over that, is part-time.

I know that Contracting outwork is a big concern here. What does that look like for the workers here at the AGO?

Yeah, so Contracting out can come in a few forms, whether that is having folks come in to build walls, pack art, do events, you know, it can lead to down the line cleaning and facilities and maintenance and plant operations. We’re really looking out for the future of our work here and seeing the slow erosion of that happening.

I know that bargaining happened over the course of many months and then the union rejected the last offer. Why wasn’t that last offer good enough?

That last offer was yes rejected by the bargaining team and now obviously just rejected by the membership. It wasn’t good enough because it didn’t address many of the needs that were asked and a bargaining surveys. Like I said, part-time is a huge amount of workers here, so that means they’re going to have to give a little bit more for people who generally get a little bit less at this work site.

What do the wages look like here? I did see one of the signs that said that the AO paid 4,000 less than rent. Is it a living wage that these workers are being paid?

So it really depends what sort of sector or what sort of Department you’re in, but the point is raising that lowest bar so that it’s close to minimum wage, but also for the folks that maybe your wage is okay but maybe you only get 18 hours a week and you have to work multiple jobs. I myself work multiple jobs here, and you know, I make around like 30,000. I went to University to do this work, right? So we just want to be able to live in this city where we work and where we live and where we play and just to feel respected from the employer a little bit more than you. Christ, thanks so much for your time this morning.

Then, so 8:00 we’ll actually see the pickets begin, but the strike started Nick and Jen as at 12:01 a.m. this morning, and so we’ll be here watching what happens in just the next half hour. Back to you.

All right, the AGO a no-go today. Vasan is live outside this morning. Thank you.

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