Picketing elevator workers and out-of-service elevators became a common sight in parts of Ontario after hundreds of unionized elevator technicians walked off the job when their contracts expired on April 30th. However, the strike is now over, and people should expect to see elevator service returning to normal, now that the International Union of Elevator Constructors and the National Elevator Escalator Association have reached an agreement with the help of a conciliator, and the elevator strike has come to an end after two months.
Timeline for Return to Work
Some technicians returned to work on July 2nd; all remaining elevator workers will be back on the job by July 10th. The Association says that it will give priority to buildings with only one elevator, as workers deal with the backlog over the coming weeks.
The Ontario Labour Relations Board had ordered elevator technicians who were necessary in conjunction with construction, alteration, demolition, repair, or decoration of residential building to return to work on June 17th. However, all other technicians, such as those needed for regular maintenance, as well as work on non-residential sites, such as office towers and public buildings, remained on strike. With this agreement, those workers will also return to work.
Outcomes for IUEC and NEEA
Both sides are claiming this as a win. The National Elevator Escalator Association – which represents several elevator companies – emphasized that the new collective agreement will allow them greater control over the workforce, increased flexibility, and a manageable wage increase. The Union emphasized that the strike was never about wages, and stated that they accepted the new collective agreement once the Association agreed to drop contentious seniority provisions from its list of demands. Regardless, after two months, both the parties involved and the public at large are happy to see the elevator strike end.
This post was guest-authored by Nathan Rayan