Resisting Precarity in Toronto's Municipal Sector: The Justice and Dignity for Cleaners Campaign

  • Jenny Carson
  • Myer Siemiatycki


This paper examines a relative rarity in recent Canadian labour-staterelations: the successful resistance by public sector workers and their allies togovernment-driven employment precarity. At stake was Toronto mayor RobFord’s determination to contract out a thousand jobs held by city cleaners. Inresponse, the cleaners and the city’s labour movement launched a Justice andDignity for Cleaners campaign to preserve these jobs as living wageemployment. Effective coalition building behind a morally compelling campaign,together with some fortuitous political alignments,has forestalled city efforts toprivatize a significant yet undervalued segment ofthe workforce. Ourexamination of the Justice and Dignity for Cleanerscampaign reveals thatresistance to precarity is not futile, notwithstanding some attendant ambiguity ofwhat constitutes a labour victory.
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