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More than 400 AGO workers to walk off the job on Tuesday after contract talks fail

More than 400 staff members at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto are set to set to strike early Tuesday morning, as the union voted to reject management’s latest contract offer.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, the union representing 430 workers at the gallery – from hospitality to maintenance and more – confirmed they are going to hit the picket lines.

The job action comes after 10 months at the bargaining table with AGO management.

The Ontario Public Service Union (OPSEU/SEFPO) Local 535 previously said that it aimed to negotiate a contract that includes new wage offer and addresses the issue of contracting out staff positions at the AGO.

“As public sector workers, AGO staffers were left behind during the pandemic and are feeling the cumulative financial loss of wage suppression under the now-repealed Bill 124,” it said in a March 15 news release.

Earlier this month, Laura Quinn, the AGO’s director of communications, said that the gallery was working hard to avoid a labour disruption.

Meanwhile, OPSEU/SEFPO Local 535 President Paul Ayers said previously that management continuously turned toward contracting out labour, eliminating full-time positions on the process.

“If we claim the arts matter, we must value the workers that make that possible,” he said in a March 15 news release.

 

“It’s getting harder to make a decent living as an employee of the AGO.”

 

The strike follows three years of Bill 124 – a law that was just recently repealed after public outcry from unionized workers, as it had capped wage increases for the public sector.

 

The AGO will be closed on Tuesday due to a labour disruption.

 

“We remain hopeful that we will reach a negotiated agreement with OPSEU soon,” the gallery said in a post on its website.

 

With files from CTV Toronto’s Hannah Alberga