Tension is building between Toronto mayor John Tory and the hundreds of unionized Exhibition Place workers who were recently forced into a lockout. On July 20th, nearly 400 skilled stagecraft workers at the Exhibition Place -  in charge of construction, lighting, sound, and special effects - were forced to stop working. The union has been working for the Exhibition Place for over 60 years.

The ultimate goal of the lockout is to end the Exhibition Place's contract with the unionized stage workers. Which would allow the Ex to hire "less-experienced and lower paid workers" instead. 

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The lockout comes just days ahead of the CNE, the Exhibition Place's flagship summer event. With the opening day approaching this Friday, Mayor Tory is being put on blast for his response to the lockout - or lack thereof.

Mayor Tory is reportedly refusing to negotiate with the Exhibition Place Board of Governors, who initiated the lockout. Unionized workers have since established a legal picket line at the front of all car entrances to the Exhibition Place, and are rallying at City Hall this afternoon.

READ ALSO: 20 Things You Have To Do At The CNE This August

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"Mayor Tory is using the CNE as hostage in a transparent attempt to display his toughness against organized labour in the run-up to the municipal election in October," says the union's president, "His refusal to respond to our openness to getting back to work is either cynical or cowardly, take your pick."

The lockout is also bringing a sudden halt to job contracts that the union has been negotiating for months. The president of the union refers to the dispute a "career suicide."

"Talented, dedicated people from Toronto who have invested their lives in the entertainment and events industry would just be tossed out the back door. Consumers would not benefit, ticket prices would not go down but corporate profits would go up," he said.

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"We are ready to help make the CNE a success once again and will return to the bargaining table as soon as we are asked and the lockout ends." Mayor Tory only has four days to respond before the CNE opens its doors to the public.

Source:  News Wire

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