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Talks continue at the Art Gallery of Ontario as strike deadline is extended

We the North
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OPSEU local 535 at the AGO is still at the table with the employer after bargaining through the night. The strike deadline has been extended to 12 noon, Friday May 21.

A central issue at the bargaining table has been the growing crisis of part-time work. Part-time positions at the Gallery are now almost double the number of full-time jobs.

“We are still in negotiations,” said AGO employee and OPSEU union spokesperson, Paula Whitmore. “We are prepared to bargain right through the long weekend if necessary.”

Many AGO employees are struggling to make a living working two part-time jobs, often at 40 hours per week with no benefits.  They are forced into part-time work and short term contracts. In addition, work is often contracted out to external sources.

Over 250 gallery workers and their supporters held a rally on May 19, outside the AGO. Led by singer Faith Nolan and the band Rhythms of Resistance, protesters chanted “Fair contract now!” and waved signs with the slogans “Full-time work” and “We need good jobs at the AGO.”

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and Vice-President Patty Rout as well as Toronto York Region Labour Council President, John Cartwright addressed the crowd expressing support.

“If you walk, we’re right there with you,” said Smokey Thomas, “There will be a fight the likes of which you have never seen before.”

OPSEU has a $50,000,000 strike fund available to its members.