Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Monday, June 08, 2009

More Emails

Here are some emails sent to me by readers.

Several of them are excerpts from emails from strikers. Usual sob stories right, designed to gain sympathy for greedy public servants. What is important is our S&P rating after all.

I expect the emails will give great comfort to the hardliners on Council Squeeze out the vulnerable picketers so that they knuckle under and come back on whatever terms Council finally sets. But that is the name of the game after all when taxpayers are being fought with their own money.

It is not unique with the CUPE strike. Windsorites have been used as pawns in so any games that to do so is almost second nature to those whom we have elected! Everything is so complicated here.

1) Your site is a breath of objective fresh air for this weary picketer. We receive scathing editorials from the Star, verbal abuse from the public and equally one sided propaganda from the Local. My personal view is that no one wins during a strike, the members, the corporation, the citizens, local business etc.

2) I was one of the picketers you talked to the other day. I am very impressed with your blogs and the inquisitive nature you seem to have... I can't understand why these councillors are just acting as the Mayor's puppets... What the heck is going on with these people? What kind of game are they playing? I know they are all afraid of the Mayor, are they just waiting for him to 'call in sick' one day so they can ACTUALLY vote the way they really want to regarding this strike? I can't figure it out...Thank you for your impartial views in this matter, we greatly appreciate it and all we want is to get back to work as soon as possible but with a fair deal for all.

3) This weekend has been most interesting. I stopped by Willistead Park on Saturday afternoon, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. There must have been 60, probably more, people in the park cutting grass, raking and bagging it, and then hauling it away. Wow! I was so impressed; I couldn’t stop smiling all day. I spoke with some of the people when they were leaving the park still pushing their lawnmowers. They were exhausted, but happy, telling me how good they felt about being part of the community, coming and working together. People dropped off pizzas and cases of water for them. It was absolutely wonderful to see.

I also stopped by the front of the park where the picketers were stationed. They had been very cooperative and friendly. I know we shouldn’t have felt that way “for the cause”, but it was soooooo heartwarming especially when surrounded by everything that is so dismal and negative in this city.

As you know, our picketing team met for a brain storming session. While we looked around the park, I had a difficult time holding back my tears. What a sad, sad shame...

I think the most upsetting thing for us, is that we believe that all of this was so unnecessary. We offered a status quo contract, with no raise. The Mayor said “No! Not acceptable”. The guy must have a heart of ice. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care about the city, about the citizens, or about us ~ the City Workers and our families. The city is dying around him, and he doesn’t feel a thing. Sad, but true."

4) I have been trying very hard to send a message out to the public and the union but no one is listening!

Here are some facts about the strike situation. Everyone should know about this. I'm a CUPE member, and I'm sick about this situation; I want to put an end to the strike and the bickering amongst the citizens.

I share the same sentiments as many of the CUPE members. We want to go back to work. We're prepared to accept almost anything that is offered to us providing that the loss isn't too severe...

People are losing their homes, facing eviction and are going without food. Bankrupcy is a real option for many...

Now, talks have stopped and the members are losing hope. They continue to get battered by the public, and the situation is escalating to dangerous levels. There are rumours of union members considering crossing the picket lines to return to work. It is not the union rules that scare them (removal of union cards and union support) it is what their colleagues might do. Still, I think this will be a reality soon.

The mayor: I have been trying to educate everyone, citizens and union alike, to join together and pressure the mayor to make a formal offer. 'Call, email, petition the mayor and council members to put an offer on the table. Jean has PROMISED to bring ANY offer to the membership to vote on. Members vote, with a darned good chance of acceptance, and the strike is over. Unfortunately, everyone is too busy bashing each other so they don't even get the message. I have put this out on every single article about the strike, as I am on a mission to end this needless situation.
Why is the mayor not responding?? What is he thinking? The city is in ruins, and the citizens are fighting each other. All he has to do is present his best offer, in writing!

Membership votes, city workers return to work. Logical?

That's all I ask. It is in the mayor's hands.

Windsor Unite!

5) This is Ms. idealist again, :-)

I was reading some of your stuff, since this site is fairly new to me. One of your comments got my attention:

'Moreover, we don’t have to worry about jobs disappearing. When have you ever seen a City employee being terminated or the number of City employees downsized. Their numbers are always increased.'

City employees DO get fired, and laid off. Fact is, ALL employees are hired as 'Temps'. These poor blokes are laid off every year just before their 12th month and stay off one month. Their seniority starts at zero again when they get called back. This could go on for years. They must compete for permanent positions. THAT is why there are so few hires, because only the permanents are considered to be 'new hires'...

Oh, and by the way, only managers are increasing. They have increased the managerial staff so much, they had to create new positions to incorporate them. The manager to staff ratio is ridiculously low, like one to eight.

6) Hello just to introduce myself I am a city employee and also a mother, a person who what and needs to return to work. It's Sunday morning and as I just about to start making the family breakfast i stop to check my Facebook and see what the latest info is when I see a link to your blog. I begin to read and in a moment I realize it's the truth, the whole truth! My eye's begin to fill with tears of joy I can't believe what I am reading. Then I am saddened that this information will not get out to the general public where It truly needs to be. But I again want to thank you from the bottom of my heart that some one is willing to tell it all in hopes this will make a difference to us some how.

7) I am a city employee with Cupe I like the accurate reporting that you put in this report and would like assist in any way to get the truth out if you need any. Its a sad situation that we see happening when we have to use the media to make people turn against people when we all just want to get back to work.

8) Hi ED

As a Cupe member your stories are bang on. You sit on the fence as I believe an Editorialist should. Both sides bashed
when they need to be bashed. Maybe you could take over the contract talks for the strike. lol

Keep reporting the facts.

9) Hello Ed, I read your Part 1. It’s excellent as usual. I think it’s all about breaking up the unions in Ontario... I think they are waiting for him to break Windsor, the Union City, and then move on to Toronto and break up Toronto’s very strong union organization there. Ontario Mayors are tired of having to deal with the unions and this is probably a scheme to eliminate them. After that, the Mayor will be heading for the Conservative leadership no doubt. Am I close?

10) While organizing my finances today I called my bank. They were very helpful & happy to assist with removal of my property tax payments from my mortgage. And no charge to do that. I was worried that it would be a re-mortgage situation but not so and in fact they are even returning money to me that they have been putting aside for my July property tax payment. Beginning this Friday my mortgage payment goes down significantly as it will not include property taxes. This will help me survive financially during this strike. The bank could not have been more helpful. They are also going to send a letter to City Hall notifying City Hall to not expect any further property tax payments from the bank in the future and to communicate with me directly with any issues related to property taxes. Why would I want to continue putting money into the coffers of Mr Eddie Francis? So he can deny me City Services some more?... So he can pay to keep me from earning a living? ...I don't think so. Let him come to my house to take out my garbage, clean my sewers AND take my welfare application because that is what it is going to take before he gets one more cent of property taxes off of my unemployed back.

11) [Re Explaining The CUPE Strike (Part I} love that photo of the baby you used at the top of this story. How perfect!!!

12) Thought you might like to share these links with your readers. The first is a short article i wrote about neighbourhood residents cutting the grass in Willlistead Park (including before and after pictures) and the second is the last of four videos i shot that day of the park:

13) [After describing an incident in which the police was called at her dayjob]I am truly afraid of the public that has been incensed into hatred of frontline
public servants and public that has been played to this enormous anger so much as to take action
against frontline public servants. As benign as it may appear - cutting grass, going to Spits
games, dropping off garbage - each action leaves me more and more in fear.

Dumb eh. But that's just me.

14) ... We should really have someone who knows the city to do that. LOL Unless, of course, we’re talking about building roads, then it’s fine for someone from New York to tell us what to do.

15) What i dont get is the Mayor is talking about a "copout" if he goes to arbitration and and outsider from 400,500 km away makes the decisions yet het spends millions on consultants and lawyers from 400,500 km away.
Is that not a "copout"?

16) I see that Don Sadler took the yellow ribbon trees while we were all distracted with the ford test track. And I have no beer to cry into.

17) We are ALL very frustrated over this whole thing. Many union members feel like we are stuck in exile as we can do nothing to get out of here! Just because we picketed “strolled” the Mayor’s neighbourhood, doesn’t mean we approved of it either; at the time we just did what we were told. Once the outcome unfolded and the public’s response was heard, it was a nightmare to most of us. We are already very disliked for being a civil servant. Nothing we do is welcomed, but it seemed the majority thought we crossed the line. From the sounds of it, much of the public think we should really work for pittance and live on merely bread & water! Personally, I wish I could run and hide! I just want to return to work; yesterday!!

Jane Doe, caught in the middle of an needless battle…

Additional Note: Not all members are picketing, largely are picketing because they are desperate for their $200/week. However, now, after this amount of time has passed and with the obvious hard-ball the Mayor is putting us through, many feel they want to stick it out, just to shove it back to the Mayor; he’s waiting for us to cave. We’ll have to see, how it pans out in the end. Since many are in a single-family situation, or already have a laid-off partner; how desperate will we be if a “Supervised Vote” is initiated. Depends on the deal and how much time has gone by, I suppose.

Personally, I would have given up the Retirement Benefits a long time ago. I’m not a fighter, I’m a lover, as the saying goes. Peace and Harmony is my objective.

But as time is passing by it does seem to bring to light how very stubborn the City is behaving and perhaps the residents will see a different story unfold? Then of course, Union Executives don’t have a good reputation either. Take all this together and add in some delinquent anti-union activist to the mix, makes for an evil battle, that really distorts all the perceptions to all sorts absorbers of the story… how will this end and when?!

18) Just read your blog today, and wanted to let you know, that as of 2 weeks ago tomorrow (Monday) there is an alternative to your "Regular" daily news. As I said, we're brand new and still going through some growing pains, but we're here and we're working.

Swing by and have a read, and we'd love to hear what you have to say!

19) You must have noticed that the "State of the City" address season has
come and gone.
I recall the glory days of 2005 when the Schwartz Bypass was being
sold as $300 million+ wonder that was needed regardless of "if or where a new crossing was built".
(I also recall this was the year when Kwame and his entourage were
honoured guests in the front row...)
Or the great RAILS TO TRAILS headlines of April 2006, and how the face
of Windsor would be changed and massive investment unleashed for the assembly, design and construction of a north south corridor of pedestrian/cyclist paths (and a greenspace at Zalev's!)

No "State of the City" in 2009? Is it just political cowardice? I'm
sure some great quotes could be pulled from years past of Eddie explaining the importance of keeping citizens informed, of sharing his VISION etc.
Is that no longer required? When the going gets tough, the mayor lays

I elect you to write the State of the City 2009 speech that Eddie is
too scared to give.

Henderson's column today was beyond the pale.
I don't think a two year old is "terrorized" by a person holding a
picket sign.
Two year olds are terrorized when their parents lose control, and it
sounds too me like that's what happened.
If I was taking one of my children to daycare and there were pickets
outside my house, I think I could leave calmly and not scare my child. In fact, a crowd of people holding signs is a pretty exciting thing for a two year old.
It's like a parade, my kids loved strikers at that age. Eddie must be
teaching his kids early that workers are the enemy.
But me, I always give 'em a beep.

As much as I hate Unions (They've become the bloated, entrenched,
entitled monsters they were created to fight), I support them because they beat the alternative. Unless you are a multi-millionaire, you should be in no hurry to wipe out the middle class in North America. But somehow, here in the heart of Union country, the masses have drafted themselves to go to war against their own interests.

CUPE has blown the PR on this strike so badly. It might be too late
to turn the tide.
Isn't it extraordinary what happens when two total failures of
leadership (CUPE and The Corporation of the City of Windsor)
meet in conflict? The failure of leadership at CUPE is a gift to
Eddie, there is no doubt.
I could almost believe the City has a mole in CUPE advising them to do
these ridiculous things (picket the Spits, dump garbage, picket Mayors
It would have been easy to get the community onside with his strike.

I give [Eddie] credit. While I find his efforts at "controlling the
message" piss poor, it seems to work for him.

For all the considerable work you have done documenting the Mayor's
follies, foibles, and misdirections, (Border, Tunnel, Arena, etc.) I
don't think the surface has even been scratched.

Your rambling, late night correspondent,

20) It was suggested to me that I read your blog and I am so happy I did.
I'm on strike and need to work. i have 2 kids to feed!
Those trees at Dieppe have been removed for the red bull bleachers.
We have an online petition on asking the mayor for binding arbitration. We know that an arbitrator may side with the city but the division between the residents and employees is adding to the mess that this city is in!
I'm sorry if the mayors daughter was upset. She in my opinion is too young to get what was happening. My children are affected more than his!

21) The average Joe or Jane Windsor is completely insulated by the lack of balanced news... or just assume whatever news they DO get MUST be accurate... (folks still read the Enquirer and News of the World and believe most of what they read).

I honestly think that mainstream media is either afraid of the wrath of City Hall, or they're just happy to be participants in the circle jerk that includes our alleged community leaders.

But city hall, ah, the peculiar aroma in the basement of the 'old' building is probably the remains of those who dared to say out loud that "the emperor has NO clothes".

Bullying is the order of the day, At all levels, union or non-union, the qualities of integrity, curiosity, candor, and honesty are perceived as threats to be eliminated. If targets do not quit or go mad, they get fired. And perpetrators just learn how to be better bullies, and the dull-witted flackies and lazy moneygrubbers take notes, lick boots, and climb the ladder.

22) Ed - I stopped and visited some picketers at Willistead yesterday morning to ask if they really were on strike for the sake of the pensions of people who have not been hired yet anyway. I was surprised to learn that the "new employees" in question aren't really so new after all. These are workers who have been hired on a temporary contract basis, some for quite a few years, hoping some day to get on full time with benefits.

To my mind (and I'm probably as conservative as anyone in Windsor), this kind of hiring is immoral. People need to be able to settle into an occupation - keeping them dangling like that for years is wicked, and not in the newer, positive sense of the term.

If that's what they really are on strike about, I'm on their side. It's one thing for private companies to treat people that way, but when governments do it, it's atrocious. Too bad we haven't got a newspaper in this town.