Police board, cops set for hard bargaining on new contract

TORONTO – The Toronto Police Services Board looks like it is ready for some hard bargaining with the Toronto Police Association.

The current police collective bargaining agreement expires next month and the police board has informed the association it is ready to start negotiating the new agreement Monday but the association has yet to serve the board with notice about bargaining.

The board launched the website torontopolicebargaining.com on Thursday to outline its starting position and making it clear it wants to rein in salaries.

The site points out 89% of the almost $1-billion police budget goes to salaries and benefits.

“If any real progress is to be made to deal with the high (and escalating) cost of policing, this major source of expenditure cannot be ignored,” the website says.

“Police have received wage increases over the last number of years which have not only exceeded the rate of inflation, but have far exceeded the increases received by their municipal and private sector colleagues

“We believe there needs to be a break to this cycle of ever escalating costs of policing.”

The opening statement concludes with the board saying it is “hopeful” they’ll achieve a collective agreement that is “fair to our officers and reflects the capacity to pay of Toronto’s taxpayers.

“We owe the residents of Toronto that much,” the board states.

But TPA president Mike McCormack called the website’s statement “disingenuous and a disservice to the public and members of the police service.

“We’re obviously disappointed that they are choosing to collective bargain in a public manner,” McCormack told the Toronto Sun. “We prefer to sit at the table and bargain in the appropriate manner. We feel that it is nothing more than grandstanding by (TDSB chairman) Dr. (Alok) Mukherjee and it is opportunistic and we think it undermines the integrity of the bargaining process.”

McCormack questioned the board’s motives.

“It is a strange way to achieve a negotiated collective agreement,” he said.

Mukherjee called the website “factual” not disingenuous or grandstanding.

“We are quite serious about getting a better deal that allows us to bring the costs under control,” Mukherjee said.

He said they are using the website to give the public information but won’t be using it to bargain publicly.

“We are not going to be engaging in association bashing but in my view there is a great deal of public concern and public interest about the cost of policing,” Mukherjee said. “As we go into bargaining and seek a better deal, we should provide the community accurate information and I think public information and public education are legitimate aspects of the bargaining.”