April 12th, 2024

Hundreds of Art Gallery of Ontario workers on strike after rejecting contract offer

By The Canadian Press on March 26, 2024.

More than 400 Art Gallery of Ontario employees are on strike, after union members voted to reject the museum's latest contract offer. A visitor checks out an exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO – More than 400 Art Gallery of Ontario employees are on strike, after union members voted to reject the museum’s latest contract offer.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union says in a statement that the offer failed to address key issues such as wage increases, protections for part-time workers and contracting out positions.

The AGO says on its website that the Toronto institution is closed Tuesday and that management remains hopeful it will reach a negotiated agreement with OPSEU “soon.”

Striking employees are members of OPSEU Local 535 and they include assistant curators, archivists, food and hospitality staff, researchers, instructors, carpenters, electricians and visitor services staff, among others.

The union says management’s last offer did not reflect contemporary wages or allow workers to stay afloat during a “cost-of-living crisis.”

OPSEU local president Paul Ayers says public service employees struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic and three years of wage freezes, and cannot afford to keep up with inflation.

“Being a “˜world class’ institution, as the AGO claims to be, starts with being a decent employer,” Ayers said in Tuesday’s release.

“Last time we checked, part-time workers still pay full-time rent. We need a deal that makes it possible to earn a living and secure your future while working at the AGO.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2024.

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