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May 2 strike deadline looms for AGO cultural workers

(Toronto) – Cultural workers at the Art Gallery of Ontario may be forced to strike this week to fight off the employer demands for more part-time, unstable work and the pervasive use of outside companies to do AGO employees’ jobs.

“The 350 cultural workers who are members of OPSEU add value to the AGO, its reputation, and the gallery experience for their patrons,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “They deserve to be valued and respected by their employer – the same employer that has certainly taken good care of their own executives. We’re going to stand with our members and see this through.”

Thomas said he hopes the employer will change its position and make a fair and reasonable settlement with the cultural workers before the strike deadline of 12:01 a.m., Friday, May 2.

“We won’t be settling for anything less than fair,” said Jane Lott, OPSEU Local 535 President.  “The public understands the injustice of growing wage inequality. The tide is turning on this and we expect the AGO to support its cultural workers.”

“When AGO executives attack the quality of our jobs and disrespect a highly-skilled workforce, they undermine the growth of arts in this city.”

The workers are lighting technicians, art instructors, maintenance workers, and work in membership services and other areas. Many of them are artists in their own right.

The union is in bargaining with AGO management today and is scheduled to bargain again tomorrow, May 1.

The cultural workers will hold an information picket at the AGO: 5 pm –11 pm, Thursday, May 1.

For more information:

Dave Loney, Staff Representative, OPSEU 416-443-8888 ext. 2489

Heather Corner, 647-966-6267, Steven Browne 416-721-7924, OPSEU Local 535 Communications