The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 416, which represents around 5,000 workers, including paramedics and garbage collectors, has filed an official grievance with the city, stating its vaccine policy "is unreasonable and violates provisions of the collective agreement."
A notice to workers also said if management approaches them about the policy to request union representation.
City spokesperson Brad Ross disagreed and said the policy and deadlines to avoid punitive action would remain unchanged. "We will let the grievance process play itself as it would normally, but the city's policy as it stands right now, we are confident it is compliant with the collective agreement," Ross told 680 NEWS.
Under the City of Toronto's policy, all city employees must prove to management they're fully vaccinated by the week of November 1. Failure to comply would result in an unpaid leave of absence for the employee. Failure to comply by a later December 13 deadline could then result in termination.
Ninety-four percent of city workers have already disclosed their vaccination status. Of those, 89 percent are fully vaccinated against COVID, with another five percent received their first dose.
In September, the CUPE Local 38, representing employees at the City of Calgary, did not expect the city to also threaten unvaccinated employees with termination. By October 18, all employees must receive two doses of a COVID vaccine. All employees without a valid exemption would be considered fully immunized by October 31.
"That was not any of the conversations that we've been having with the city literally for months," said its president D'Arcy Lanovaz. "All of the conversations we had, they were heading in a different direction, and in 24 hours, it flipped."
A City release told any City employee who cannot be immunized due to a medical reason or other protected grounds under the Alberta Human Rights Act will be reasonably accommodated. "Those employees who require accommodation must undergo mandatory rapid testing and must receive a negative result before they are permitted to fulfill their duties in City workspaces."