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As of 12:01 a.m. Friday, 350 workers at the Art Gallery of Ontario are in a legal position to strike. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
As of 12:01 a.m. Friday, 350 workers at the Art Gallery of Ontario are in a legal position to strike. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Strike looms at Art Gallery of Ontario Add to ...

The Art Gallery of Ontario faces a potential strike by its employees on Friday in a dispute over job stability and outsourcing.

As of 12:01 a.m. Friday, 350 workers are in a legal position to strike and the AGO could legally lock out those employees. Negotiations between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 535 and AGO management are under way, and workers are planning to picket the gallery on Thursday evening.

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OPSEU representatives are at the table “to fight off the employer demands for more part-time, unstable work and the pervasive use of outside companies to do AGO employees’ jobs,” the union said in a statement.

Lighting technicians, art instructors, maintenance workers and membership services employees are among the union members who could go on strike.

Caitlin Coull, communications manager for the gallery, wrote in an e-mail that the AGO’s sole focus is to successfully conclude negotiations as soon as possible so that staff and management “can focus exclusively on serving visitors and the continued success of our organization.”

She said the AGO was confident that it would be able to come to an agreement, but she did not say when.

“We won’t be settling for anything less than fair,” Local 535 president Jane Lott said in a statement. “The public understands the injustice of growing wage inequality.”

Ms. Coull said she could not yet comment on how operations would be affected if the strike goes ahead, but she said the AGO’s monthly First Thursdays music and art event on May 1 is going ahead as planned.

The AGO has close to 600 employees and about two-thirds of those are OPSEU members.

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