January 17, 1999
Strike vote on today
14,000 T.O. school board staff
"I'm pleading for sanity and that staff continue working and continue negotiating until a successful contract is agreed to," Johnson said yesterday.
"I am calling on both parties to keep on working and negotiating," Johnson said, adding students simply can't afford to be out of the classroom.
But John Weatherup, president of CUPE Local 4400, which represents the support staff, said his members have been without a contract since August, and negotiations are scheduled through to the end of January.
"We're still negotiating, so I don't know what he means ... (A strike) is not immediate," Weatherup said.
"I don't think he knows, basically, very much. There is no (strike) deadline and we're still negotiating."
The union wants increased job security and a pay raise after an eight-year freeze.
Johnson said he was reluctant to see further disruptions.
"Our students have been through quite a bit over the last couple of years, with legal strikes and illegal strikes, ice storms and now the blizzard," he said.
"It is not unusual for contracts to expire and negotiations to continue," he said. When he was mayor of East York, he says, it was the norm for workers to keep on working and negotiating, and workers at the college level have been without a contract for two years, but have kept on negotiating.
"There is certainly lots of precedence," Johnson said. "A number of school boards have reached agreements with CUPE, so there should be optimism that the Toronto board can do so as well."
-- With files by Paul Cantin Next Story: 'Perjurer' Clinton must go
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