Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Next Attack On CUPE

I sure hope that CUPE has inserted job guarantee language if they settle their strike with the City to protect their jobs.

If not, expect slashing of positions soon thereafter

Can you imagine, being out on strike for so long and then being forced to fight again in 6 months or so, before the next Municipal election when politicians might be prepared to smack CUPE around again to gain a few votes!

Since Eddie looks up to Chicago's Mayor Daley, if he can do it, why can't Eddie. Don't forget too, that Daley received a ton of P3 money as well and still wanted to slash staff.
  • "Toronto ominously near the end of its fiscal tether

    Carol Wilding
    President of the Toronto Board of Trade

    Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, faced with a sudden budget deficit of $300 million as a result of shrinking revenues, asked civic unions to meet with him last Thursday to discuss a concessions package that included furlough days (the quaint American vernacular for unpaid days off) and a reduction in sick-time accrual.

    The unions boycotted the meeting. The next day, Daley sent layoff notices to 1,500 city workers.

    That may seem like a harsh move, but Daley is hardly alone. Across the United States, municipalities have been responding to the recession by taking urgent action to bridge their fiscal shortfalls, and the choice is always the same: The city can either cut dollars by reducing spending or it can cut bodies out of its workforce.

    Two weeks ago, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa passed a budget that included 1,200 layoffs, while remaining employees will have to take 26 furlough days each year.

    In New York last month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned of more than 3,700 layoffs in his upcoming July 1 budget. In subsequent negotiations, local union leaders agreed on a package that cut 900 jobs but saved 1,800 more. There are still 1,000 employees whose jobs still hang in the balance of negotiations. Management and labour have given themselves 90 days to save those jobs by reducing spending elsewhere.

    Meanwhile, here in Toronto, city council is staring at its own budget shortfall, estimated to be at least $350 million for the coming fiscal year.

    Worse still, our shortfall isn't a one-time occurrence due to the weak economy: the City of Toronto has for years suffered from a chronic structural deficit, relying upon injections of cash from Queen's Park to balance its budget every year.

    And yet, here in this city, Toronto's civic unions are threatening a strike that would halt garbage collection as soon as June 22.

    This is the way negotiations have always gone in recent years: strike threats and last-minute, round-the-clock bargaining. But this year's negotiations can't be routine. Both labour and management in Toronto have much to learn from what their U.S. counterparts are going through.

    Like those cities, Toronto simply does not have sufficient revenues to meet all its expenditures. There are many reasons for the shortfall, but the city's collective agreements are among them.

    Both the Board of Trade and the Mayor's Independent Fiscal Review Panel have pointed out the need to address the issue of the city's labour costs. As Toronto residents and businesses struggle to regain their financial footing during the recession, there is little appetite for tax increases. But there is scant public acknowledgment from the unions of the city's precarious finances.

    The time has come for the city's union leaders to recognize this reality. Queen's Park will run a deficit of $18.5 billion this year and is sending signals that it won't be able to provide another rescue bailout for Toronto. And no length of work stoppage will make either the province's ballooning deficit or the city's chronic fiscal shortfall disappear.

    Last Thursday, Mayor David Miller told reporters that "we need the workers and their representatives to understand the very difficult financial situation we have at the moment."

    It was a candid assessment from a mayor whose administration has typically avoided conducting its negotiations in public. Indeed, the mayor might want to follow the lead of his American counterparts and be even more forthcoming about the gravity of the city's finances.

    In U.S. cities, mayors make their case in public well in advance. They lay out the severity of their situation in the simplest terms. They explain the tough choices ahead: If the city wants to save jobs, it has to find new ways to save money. Then they invite the unions to be part of the solution.

    This approach also has the benefit of being transparent for all taxpayers, and gives public opinion a bigger say in the outcome.

    In New York, the unions came to the table, and for every job that was lost at least two were saved. In Chicago the unions refused to bargain. So far, they have 1,500 pink slips to show for it. In every case, the city's fiscal sustainability is everybody's top priority.

    In Toronto, no one knows what the outcome will look like. But unless it takes some bold steps toward a more sustainable fiscal footing, both parties may find themselves bargaining again in six months time, when it's clear no one can afford the deal they signed. "

Gee, doesn't Toronto's Mayor, David Miller, have Eddie now as his precedent!