Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, June 12, 2009

No Postage Required

Lots of emails coming in, many of them about the strike. Take a look at then and consider some different perspectives.

1) I would just like to make a comment on the post retirement benefits being fought for by the city unions.

When you look at this issue from a broader perspective offering post retirement benefits makes economic sense. We have a universal health system and we have an aging population. We should be looking to expand these benefits to all sectors, not cut them.

I am a nurse who works with seniors everyday and I see first hand the consequences of what is covered and not covered for seniors through OHIP and the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB). Many medications are not covered under ODB including several pain medications and also drugs for many chronic diseases. These drugs are often prohibitively expensive for seniors without coverage and I have seen seniors on fixed incomes forced to choose between paying for the drugs they need to stay healthy and the food they also need to stay healthy as these drugs can cost in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars monthly depending on what you been prescribed.

The government has also delisted physiotherapy and occupational therapy which has a profound impact on the functional health of seniors whose bodies have been damaged from the hard work they have done all their lives. Post retirement benefits allow seniors to access expensive physio and occupational therapy (which generally costs between 45 and 70 $ per session) so they can heal from injuries or surgery and maintain the strength and function that they have.

Seniors who don't have access to the drugs and therapy that they need to keep them healthy wind up needing expensive hospital care for preventable issues or wind up in tax subsidized nursing homes.

I would rather pay a little more for a product or service today so that workers can have access to the medications and treatments they need to keep them healthy in the future than to pay the much larger tax costs involved for nursing home admissions and hospital admissions for seniors we didn't care enough to keep healthy. We have to realize that one way or the other, whether we pay the pied piper municipally or provincially, we will pay for post retirement health care but the prevention offered by the protections of post retirement benefits is far cheaper than paying for the care these people will need if their health conditions get out of control because they can't afford what they need to stay healthy.

Invariably some will argue that we should be saving to take care of ourselves in retirement and I agree that this is something we should all aspire to do but it is not always possible for everybody to save at all or enough. Also, as I joke with my husband, we picked a good time to be poor - anybody who has lost savings and investments during the market crash will tell you it might not be a good idea to rely exclusively on your saving because no matter what you do right, they might not be there when you need them.

Hope you find the perspective interesting.

2) i admire what you do. it is almost enough to make me rue my not
becoming a lawyer. almost.

3) half of social service people and daycares' paycheque comes from the province... not sure about other of the workers in CUPE but i believe that transfer payments cover a HUGE portion of employee payroll for city workers. Much of it is NOT directly out of property taxpayer pockets ... why do you think they
could finalize 2009 budget for the city when they don't even know the outcome of the labour dispute?

4) good work on your recent blog. right on.

5) wondering what can be done about the HUGE profits coming in to Windsor Star
over the internet now ... their traffic must be ENORMOUS! ... since they use traffic figures to sell advertising ... well, we stupid ones, myself included are giving them all that they need on a silver platter with every article they write

6) Thanks for your comments – they keep me going everyday!

CUPE has made Monday June 8th – Cancel The Windsor Star Day. We are all calling to cease our subscription on Monday (not that it will make any difference to them, but it sure will make us CUPE members like we won a small battle.)

Feel free to join us!

7) Just wanted to say keep up the great work on the strike blogs. I love it!

I wish someone would answer the question. How many full time CUPE 543 or 82 workers are there?

The public perception is that 1800 employees are seeking PRB and pensions as well as for new hires. The number 1800 keeps being reported by the media however, if you remove the number of part time, seasonal and temporary employees how many do you actually have that are eligible for for PRB and pensions.

Today in these economic times I do not believe that the Corporation of the City of Windsor, or any other business is going to hire full time personal. Exactly, they are going to continue hiring part time only so the added expenses of benefits will be kept out of the equation. Is the Mayor holding off on going back to the table because the public believes all 1800 are eligible? Is he "selling the farm" if he removes the number of ineligible employees?

8) I would like to see the payroll run for overtime paid out to non union
staff since we have been on strike.

One non union worker was bragging he had 18 thousand overtime since the
strike started. I would love to see the payroll run. It is available
and up to date because the cheque run can not be done until they have
looked at the computer run off. I want to see that. Don't you.

9) RE post retirement benefits.

These benefits were fought hard for many years ago by strikes. They walked the picket line and went without paycheques to secure the future of employees, benefits that these [name of Councillors] enjoy today.

Because the city could not pay the rate that Chryslers or the other 2 were getting they opted to give benefits to the employees. Never did the ordinary city worker make what a big 3 employee made.

10) I think the Windsor Star is despicable for publishing that. Maybe she just doesn't understand the complications of having her and her baby's picture out there. She is young we can forgive her misjudgment BUT NOT THE WINDSOR STAR.

Who in God's name allowed that to be published.

And.... if anything happens to her from who knows maybe some druggy or mentally deranged person then the person that authorized that to go to press should be [dealt with] accordingly.

Why do we all expect more from the Windsor Star... THIS TIME THEY HAVE GONE TO FAR.

11) "It's hard to continue to be out on strike though when your employer uses your money as a taxpayer to fight you."

that's a very good point, isn't it?

the other good advice you offer is to avoid the star's bait. the trouble here though is that no one else seems wont to "ignore the bait" and therefore folk like myself have no choice but to take up proverbial arms and fight some of the more obscene comments back. you know, out of every 18 cupe-bashing comments, one of them at the very least has to present the other point of view.

so its tricky for many to actually follow through, not swallow the bait and observe your advice.

anyway, thanks again. you do this poor community a great service by your punditry.

12) I wonder if the Councillors will take advantage of his [the Mayor's] absence and get us back to work?

13) i read your blog and that is what led me to send my recent email. You are doing a good job.

14) This is such a dirty strike. My very first strike ever. And hopefully my last strike ever. Worst part of it is the public smearing through the media. When you are a public servant (as opposed to a private company employee) media supports City Hall. Impossible to get fair reporting over here... And it is easy to get public support for saying no to "demands of the public servant" when it is taxpayer money you are talking about. Almost a hopeless situation for all of us. Our entire town is suffering and there is NO end in sight.

If you get a chance, watch our CUPE 543 & 82 video about Strike of 2009 called "Hold the Line"

(please share with everyone you know ... inside Windsor and outside Windsor especially ... thanks)

The strike is "all about garbage" in our public's eyes yet of our 1800 employees on the street for 2 months now, only 28 people do the job of garbage collection for the entire city. The rest of us are building inspectors, by-law enforcement, childcare, senior care, clerks, parks & rec - ie, lifeguards & programmers, welfare workers, sewage workers, IT experts, we even have a museum curator out on the street with us.

To address the strike I have a single garbage can at the end of my driveway. No garbage in it to smell or draw rodents or flies. It is weighed down with a couple of bricks inside and the lid has bungee cords so it doesn't blow away. On my garbage can I have a sign. It is my hope that this silent protest will help end this bitter strike. Some of my friends & family have "put one to the curb" with a sign too. One of my cousins (not in Windsor) has honoured me by doing it too and attaching a sign that says, "Waiting for my Cousin's Garbage Collector". Please don't feel that you cannot help because you are far away. Protest can come for anywhere and anyone who cares about anyone or anything. In fact, the farther away from the injustice, the better in my mind. I'll attach a photo so you can laugh at me too. Or you can help me. If you did help me, I would sooooooooooooooo LOVE to see the photo of yours!

15) Hi Ed, enjoyed your blog this week, I'm sorry the strike is going on too long and you'd rather be reporting about other things lol. Anyways, a couple things I wanted to say to you, after just looking at the Windsor Star Website.

They have an article on there now about Jim Wood's family being threatened. I can't help but wonder why they have that pic of his pretty daughter (with a distinctive tatoo) and his adorable baby grandson. When the MAYOR's family was supposedly threatened, I do not RECALL seeing a pic of MICHELLE and his 2 YEAR OLD CHILD. Why publicize the pic of Jim's daughter and grandson? Now anyone going down the street will be able to recognize them.

Could I recognize Michelle and Baby Francis? Hmmm, I think not, its been a while since Michelle's FACE was in the paper. I guess it's a good thing that the Mayor's wife hasn't had her face in the paper lately because we wouldn't want HER to become a target of public rage.

Anyways, just wanted to say keep up with the good reporting, I know this strike is tiresome, but we strikers are tired of it too and just want to get back to work...

I liked that you mentioned the General Manager driving up and down Eddie's street that day. Would be interesting to know how that person found out about it.

Well, I have picketing duty tomorrow, I must go to bed soon.

16) i think you know, but the senior manager of which you speak
(latest blog entry) -- the one with the fast film and
quicker camera -- is [Name deleted].

how that person got out there that quick is anyone's guess?

(i'm beginning to think there's an eddie mole in the top
brass at CUPE ?)

by the bye, not one person at the club alouette meeting
yesterday wanted the strike to drag on. which tells me that
all these vocal anti-unionist bigmouths a) live in their
parent's basements and are clueless dimwits, or
b) they are downright cowards who cannot back
their opinions up with a public voice at a town hall

eddie is now losing his own game. "it isn't a farm,
its the city you were born and raised in".

also, why is it "council's mandate" to crush its employees
union? -- and not to run this city to the very best of their
ability? viz: waitaminute! -- exactly what is council's role
as our government? who asked for this destructive imperative
to be placed before the civic responsibility of representing
your constituents? i did not. did you? who then?

now the push is to find the chinks in the armour. fulvio,
drew, alan and marra. which 3 to make the 6 needed to go to
arbitration. if that is to be the route?

otherwise, "replacement workers" i fear will bring such
severe and extreme civil unrest to this city of roses that
the ford strike of 45 will seem a tickertape parade by
comparison. that's not a threat made by me, that's my
diagnosis of what will happen. it will be very very ugly.

or, all of it could be averted for the price of a
cheeseburger? take your pick citizens.

what gives?

what is wrong with this city?

do keep up the fine work, sir.

17) Loved today’s blog. I knew the details on one of the security people hired from out of town ~ where she’s from, when she arrived, and the fact that the City is paying to put her and others up in a hotel for the duration of the strike...

My husband told me he was listening to 1550 AM News on the way home. Apparently Alan Halberstadt stated he wanted to talk to the Ministry of Labour to see if the Union can go back to work, and then the teams can settle the negotiations afterwards. Then the Mayor was interviewed, and he said angrily that “Halberstadt voted twice against arbitration, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about”. It would appear that some of the councilors may be jumping ship. Interesting, eh?

I’ll have to e-mail [Name of Councillor] again, and see if I can get him going, especially about paying for retirees. Jr. mentioned that the Mayor was considering replacement staff, and Jr. commented that it would do more harm to employee relations….duhhhh. Anyway, I’ll suggest to [Name of Councillor] that these retirees are replacement staff, and have him wrestle with that.

A few of the veterans showed up today to clean up the memorial area at City Hall for their D-Day celebrations. I thought it was tomorrow, the 6th., but apparently it’s being held on the Sunday. They had asked the Union’s permission to do that, and of course both Locals said yes. However, we thought we would surprise the Vets and our team showed up to help cut and rake the grass and clean up the area ~ with both Unions permission of course. There were 3 gentlemen that showed up to clean up the area, and when we showed up to help them they were just overjoyed. We even had a mobile power washer show up. The place looks great. However, the Star showed up and asked “Did somebody try and cut the grass and you guys showed up to stop them?” Patrick told them we were here to assist the Vets. The A-Team also showed up...

18) both sides are being stupid and i really believe someone will get hurt
before this is over. i wish they would just settle. i fear for everyone's

19) I am writing to you in hopes of someone listening to a plea of a family member of a CUPE striker.

My husband has been a City employee for over 20 years. He has always enjoyed and respected his job. As a family, we have been extremely pleased with the security that this job brings to our household. We have never ever taken his job for granted.

I myself was born and raised in this great city, and I have with great pride boasted of the compassion and warmth that this city beams with. I can completely understand differences of opinions.....that is healthy. What I can't wrap my head around at all is the hate that is tearing this city apart through this strike. It has come down quickly and aggressively. I have to wonder if even when this strike is settled if the wounds will be too severe to be forgotten. I think that in these desperate times of plant closures and bankruptcies that people are feeling the need to band together to somehow feel in control. The problem being they've banded together to "hate" a large group of innocent people.

I have worked at my place of employment for over 25 years....with again great pride. I am known to be a caring, quiet person (who by the way, has never been moved to the point of emailing someone such as yourself). It is amazing how many people feel the need to lash out at me, knowing that I am married to a City employee. This is not acceptable. Normal, easy going people are so agitated by this dilemma, it is, in my opinion spreading these hateful feelings/emotions like a disease in this city. ....And week by week, day by day it is increasing.
I have read the past few blogs you've written regarding this mess....I would love your opinion on what I could do to get someone to listen. I have shed enough tears....I'm getting very angry now.

I think most people would gladly share the expense for post retirement, or completely fund it themselves.....but, at this point it just needs to get done. If binding arbitration is what is needed, so be it, whatever will end this pain that everyone is sharing.

I'm not sure if Mayor Francis wants to break the union or just break the city......but breaking is definitely what's happening. The first to go will be these people's spirits.

Please, I don't know who else to reach out to.....someone needs to help these people that are being made out to be heartless villains.

20) a few retired city workers came down to the line yesterday and they let us know that management has been calling them and asking them to come back to work. [Name of person] has been calling retired staff (union and non union) and asking them to return to work for the duration of the strike. It seems management is burnt out and would like to take vacations. Now the part that sets off a fuse in my brain is that not only are they being asked backed to work, but they are being offered wages that are 2-3 times the regular wage. For example, one individual said she was offered $34/hour. Another said he was offered $58/hour.

21) Eddie's been on AM800 since 9 a.m....He was trying to do damage control. Anybody that's been following the antics being pulled could see/hear it. Honestly, his voice is like nails on a chalkboard.

22) omg!!!

wouldn't it be delightful to have a blog about farmer macfrancis' workers on his farm!

cutting grass, garbage hauling, lifeguarding, possibilities are endless!

"salary $X, photo priceless" under each of the photos ...

hey, already we have a photo of Executive Director Don Sadler with a garbage bag

how about this? ... you can announce that you are beginning a scrapbook on "The MacFrancis Farm" and he could be your very first entry.

if you wanted contrast you could have a photo of a director BESIDE a photo of a worker whose job they are doing (like a garbage man) showing the comparable pay received for the same work ...

23) Hi Ed,

Re: Your thoughts on the Security force for the strike.

This is probably the one “noble” act that all strike-bound companies with even two brain cells colliding do – bring in outside security.

Why? Never pit the local security employees against the local dispute participants. Everybody has to live in their town after a strike is over. You know how small a town Windsor is – it would be a disaster.

Strikes are emotionally charged. Dispassionate security is critical. The only way to achieve balance is to bring in people who have no stake in either side.

The money spent on outside security is, in reality, probably only minimally more than the cost of local security. It’s going to be spent anyway. The City does have a responsibility to protect taxpayer assets (OK – I agree – that’s a whole other blog!).

I’m not defending outside security. We all saw the devastating results of a CAW member being run over by a security van. I’m just stating the thinking behind this issue.

24) Ontario Works recipients are complaining that it is taking too long to receive their cheques. New Applicants are waiting 4 weeks for an application to be taken over the phone. I hear that the management staff is getting burned out. They are tired ~ not used to working so hard. Even they want the CUPE workers back to work.

25) I am a CUPE worker who was referred to your site by a fellow worker. After feeling so suffocated by the poor journalism of the Windsor Star your blog has been like a breath of fresh air. To see a bit of the whole story instead of the half truths published by our local rag brings me a little hope. I know CUPE is not without blame for the current impasse but I think if more people knew what was going on at city hall we would be back at work already.

Curiously, in the online story about "66% of Windsorites being in favour of arbitration," the Windsor Star makes a point of headlining that the poll was commissioned by CUPE but doesn't mention Viewpoints Research Ltd. until the fourth paragraph. Other legitimate news outlets I am familiar with usually name who conducted the poll first then mention who commissioned it. More fine journalism from the Windsor Star.

Anyways, nice work, keep at it. I'll be checking in regularly.

26) [At his Ward meeting] I'll undoubtedly forget some details. The PRB is being touted as a $3.9 million legacy cost. Ken Jr broke the cost down to the lowest form as being represented as a $5 per year cost to the average tax payer. However he also said that CUPE has made that move by offering 50 cents toward the $1.35 an hour it represents to the employee. Lewenza said that there are many ways the funding can be achieved if council had the will to do so, and that there is 30 years over which the funding can occur. He held his fingers a cm apart and said, "We're this close to a solution." But then he said that there are four members of council who will never be part of the solution. That leaves six members who need to be pressured to swing that vote. They need to have their feet held to the fire until they agree to move on with finding the funding formula.

27) It's come to my attention that working members of Parks & Rec have collected, amongst themselves, a total of $10,000 and have purchased gift certificates for distribution to the striking workers, in the form of $100 certs. Now, I don't know if they're going out to all strikers, or just some, but I feel that it is a nice gesture by friends within the dept toward friends on strike.

28) I was looking through the recent e-mails you have received, and I wondered if you ever show any that are not from CUPE supporters, but City supporters - I can't believe you never get any. Obviously you have your opinions, which is perfectly fine, but you are not willing to post anybody elses.