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CUPE chief Mark Ferguson not stepping down after all

CUPE 416 president Mark Ferguson

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

One of Toronto's most prominent labour leaders will not step down this fall as he promised, saying he wants to "stick around" for the 2014 mayoral and council elections.

Mark Ferguson, the president of CUPE Local 416, told reporters Monday night that he has changed his mind and plans to run again in November for the leadership of the city's outside workers' union.

"I will say that I do plan to run for re-election," he said. "I'll be making some announcements regarding that some time in the very near future."

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Mr. Ferguson said he thinks that his members and executive have made "incredible progress," but that his work isn't finished.

"Quite truthfully I want to stick around for the elections in 2014," he said.

Mr. Ferguson, who represents approximately 6,000 workers, announced earlier this year that he would leave at the end of his term. That announcement came after a heated meeting with paramedics represented by CUPE 416, at which Mr. Ferguson abruptly said he was quitting.

A former paramedic, Mr. Ferguson rose to public prominence during the 2009 city-wide strike.

He is a vocal critic of Mayor Rob Ford and his drive to privatize services and curb the clout of organized labour in Toronto. In February, Mr. Ferguson and CUPE 416 agreed to a contract that included a 6-per-cent raise over four years and significant concessions on job security.

Mr. Ferguson revealed his re-election plans after a speech to the executive committee Monday in which he accused city staff of inflating by $3-million the estimated cost of CUPE-provided garbage service in the area between Yonge Street and the Humber River in 2011.

Council voted to outsource curbside collection in that area last year, and the new private collector began its work there last month.

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City staff said collection was actually $3-million cheaper than expected last year because residents put out less material than expected.

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Kelly Grant is a health reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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