Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's All Garbage

So the City and CUPE are going back to negotiate? Why? What happened? Did Ken Lewenza's letter assist---I help you on the canal and you talk to CUPE again? Did someone finally realize that Art in the Park is coming up soon and the grass needs cutting?

It's pretty clear that few Windsorites really understand what the City/CUPE strike is all about. I include myself as one of them.

Oh I understand that it is supposedly about post retirment benefits for new hires. And that means that it really is about Eddie's desire to reduce the City's rarely discussed but huge liability for these benefits that has made S&P so antsy about the City's finances. That could result in a disastrous fall in the City's bond rating. Oh my investors will NOT be pleased.

However that the City with the able assistance of the Windsor Star is leading up to applying for a major injunction against CUPE just in time for the Red Bull air races. We cannot have that major feather in Eddie's cap spoiled now can we. In fact, it was suggested to me that an injunction might be obtained before, for Art in the Park. That keeps Red Bull's name out of the picture.

Clearly, the basis for the injunction will be garbage especially when outside contractors start doing the work when the CUPE outside workers refuse to respond to public health and safety concerns. Wasn't that what the front page Star story the other day was all about? Oh and it will not be Eddie who says there is a health risk so he cannot be blamed. It will either be the Medical Officer of Health or the Ministry of the Environment who takes the hit for Eddie.

How many garbage ads have been run by the City giving us "new information." I think the most important information that is "new" is the number of weeks of the strike. At a half page each plus smaller ads, how much has the Windsor Star earned in revenues so far? Or rather, how much have taxpayers paid out?

You can just feel it escalating to the point where a Judge is going to be asked to take drastic action against CUPE:
  • Residents are fearful that the city's rat population is growing out of control as garbage piles up in the third week of a strike by CUPE workers
  • Mayor will rebate any tax savings to citizens
  • Windsor's construction companies are crying foul after striking municipal workers began stepping up picketing Wednesday by targeting city road, sewer and water construction sites.

    "They're taking bread off our table now," said Dwayne Dawson, president of the Heavy Construction Association of Windsor and Essex County.
  • pickets have slowed vehicles at Spitfire hockey games at the WFCU Centre, Transit Windsor buses, trucks entering the Lou Romano sewage treatment plant and golfers at Roseland Golf Course.
  • Officials at Enwin and WUC, both arms-length operations of the city, were not happy to be dragged into the contract fight between CUPE strikers and the city
  • ""It's not lost on us that the residents have been impacted, that the services that have been impacted are services that our residents deserve and depend on."

    Francis said the city will roll out new plans to deal with the mounting refuse -- garbage collection is one of many city services put on hold -- in coming weeks. He wouldn't say what those plans include.
  • The self-fulfilling prophecy---"As the garbage continues to pile up and dandelions grow on parks and playgrounds, Francis expressed concern Tuesday that things could get heated on picket lines.

    "It's a concern that I've lived with from the very first day of the strike," said Francis.

    "I would hope that we will continue to respect each other, that we agree to disagree without being disagreeable and that there will be no escalation.
  • Gord Henderson's car being damaged
  • A striking outside city worker said he suffered serious injuries after a confrontation with a private contractor who was trying to mow grass on Kildare Road, according to a union statement and a police report.
  • CUPE workers have been ordered by the Superior Court of Justice to limit delaying people passing picket lines to five minutes.

    The City of Windsor received the injunction Friday against picketing members of CUPE Locals 82 and 543.

    In a news release city solicitor George Wilkki said that "picketers have been creating significant delays at a number of locations recently, but under the new injunction they will not be allowed to prevent individuals from entering municipal work sites for more than five minutes."
  • The when did you stop beating your spouse story---
    Union denies dirty tricks
    Trash firm harassed

    The harassment started when people threw beer bottles at Rob Delicata's trucks a few weeks ago.

    It escalated Friday when someone spread a box of nails on the road leading to his waste disposal service. One of his employees got a flat tire entering the Pillette Transfer Station. Then, when Delicata arrived at work Sunday morning, he found a mound of trash piled up sometime overnight in front of the gates to the station.
  • The strikers scare kids story and don't blame me for the extra police and police boat----There was a heavy police presence at the walk along the river as well as at festival plaza. At any given time during the 10 a.m. walk from the Ambassador Bridge to festival plaza, there were about 20 uniformed and plain clothed police officers within the vicinity of the mayor, his wife, city staff and Coun. Jo-anne Gignac.

    The overwhelming police presence was a decision made by the police chief with public safety in mind, Mayor Eddie Francis said...

    The mayor said he thought the picketers recognized the birthday celebration was a day for families and children."
  • The anonymous "threats"---"Unfortunately, regrettably, there have been a lot of messages posted on Facebook and web sites," Francis said alluding to threats without being specific.

    "I know our workers. I hope that won't be the case. It's something the community cannot afford.

Of course, CUPE is being about as dumb as it can be! Is this the first time CUPE has ever been on strike in Canada? It sure seems that way.

Has CUPE Windsor been abandoned by its National and Ontario HQs? Who is providing them with legal and strategic advice or have they been left to hang in the wind? If that is the case, I might wonder if some members might decide that another union might be more helpful, say the CAW who might need some members with big salaries?

I am shocked that the Union has been completely unable to communicate what the issues are all about from its perspective to the members of the public to try and gain support. Oh I heard that the Star won't print their side of the story but surely there are other ways to get their message out. 1,000 plus CUPE members could blanket the City in a day with their version of why there is the strike in a pamphlet for citizens.

Does the public know that "part-time" Councillors are eligible for post retirement benefits after only three terms in office as an example?

Has the City ever presented a formal offer to the Union or is all that the City has done is write what they want to do on their website? If no offer has been made, is this bargaining in good faith? However, my understanding is that one of the CUPE Presidents has committed to take any offer to the membership. Why hasn't the City called the bluff or is there more involved than meets the eye?

My guess is that the City is going to get the visible items---garbage, grass-cutting and pot hole fixing---resolved first through Court injunctions. Then there is little public pressure to settle with the Union. City Hall seems to be functioning with the mangers working and their overtime pay should help make them happy.

Do NOT be surprised to see the City back off of some of its concessions. CUPE by that time will have no public support and its members on strike for so long that they will take anything to get back to work.

PS. The strike could get more interesting now. CUPE claims that the City has discontinued the services of Elite and has hired the security people from out-of-area. I wonder why that was done. Is it true about the stories that they might be here until August or is that a pressure ploy to scare strikers?