Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Other Strike

  • "Customer: Could you please call me a cab?

    Clerk: OK... "You're a cab."

What taxi strike?

Except for the odd story, you would never know it. Except when you called for a cab and had to wait a few extra minutes.

  • "Gary Parent, president of the Windsor and District Labour Council, has enlisted the support of thousands of CAW retirees to help pressure the mayor and city council to come to a deal with striking city workers and Veteran Taxi cabbies."

This did not accomplish much!

Why the CAW has been so quiet for so long that cab drivers might want to join CUPE! Now wouldn't that be a switch

  • "Striking Veteran's Cab drivers, who have voted 98 per cent against the company's latest contract proposal, will join a mass rally Friday in support of the city's striking inside and outside workers."

Something's up. There has to be. Remember the stories during one of our taxi strikes:

  • more than 100 CAW members and striking cabbies clashed with non-striking cabbies who had planned to stage a rally at the union hall.
  • City residents could find themselves near the epicentre of a brawl like the one that broke out last week or they could be forced to wait for police and paramedics tied up by a taxi industry that can no longer police itself.

    The potential for trouble isn't confined to the factory gates in this particular strike with its roaming pickets, and problems could potentially flare up at the airport, train station or any neighbourhood where non-striking taxi drivers pick up or drop off fares…

    "It's a war," said Renaud last week.
  • Before Thursday's confrontation, there had been nearly 100 calls to police by both the union and the company over incidents of violence: spray-painted cabs, slashed tires, telephone threats, arson, property damage.
  • The violence is a symptom of the underlying problems in an industry that is heavily regulated by the City of Windsor, yet has been allowed for decades to create its own set of rules.
  • "About 200 striking Veteran Cab drivers, angry that their union president was denied a chance to speak, brought Monday night's city council meeting to a halt and were hustled out of council chambers by police.

    The protest escalated outside city hall only minutes later when a group of irate drivers smashed the windows of a non-striking cabbie and tried to overturn his vehicle, Windsor police said.
  • Tension ran high after CAW Local 195 president Mike Renaud rose to his feet as the council meeting was getting underway. He asked to speak to council but was told by Mayor Eddie Francis that council procedure did not allow for a delegation to speak when their issue is not on the agenda."

Hardly a peep this time around. What gives? How can CAW keep the drivers so quiet and peaceful? There is an Agenda Item at Council tonight on taxi licences so maybe that will give a hint or two. So far only a driver and their Union are speaking as delegations.

The owners better watch out. Who knows, some Councillor may have a surprise Resolution up his or her sleeve. After all, Councillors were already told everything they needed to know out of sight of the parties involved:

  • "Administration provided Council with an in-camera report on Council’s legal responsibilities and options.

Where is the Mayor who previously in the earlier strike threatened both sides to find a solution so the tourist industry would not suffer:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis has given an ultimatum to the two sides in the Veteran Cab dispute -- get back to the table and work out a labour deal or the city will impose a solution that may not be to either side's liking.

    "We know that any action we take will not only have short-term but long-term consequences," Francis warned.

    He said the strike by Windsor's biggest taxi service, now in its 12th day, has become "an extreme concern to us."

    "We're at a position now where we can't take it anymore -- the deadline has come and gone," he said late Saturday.

    "Other cab companies are saying they can't keep up," said Francis, adding the upcoming Super Bowl has "nothing whatsoever" to do with the city's desire for a quick end to the strike. He said there are residents, particularly seniors, who have had difficulty getting to medical appointments because of the dispute.

    Francis forced the company and the union representing 350 drivers back to the table late last week, but the effort failed after a marathon 13-hour session. The mayor said, however, that he met with union officials Friday and continued to work at helping find a solution."

Do the drivers have an expectation that after 60 days of striking, the cab licences may be taken back by the City and given out to them? Is that why they have been so patient and so quiet.

  • "In the meantime, licensing commissioner Diane Sibley said that revocation of existing licences is "a situation we're investigating at the moment with the help of our legal department."

    According to a city bylaw governing the licensing and use of public vehicles, the licensing commission may revoke the plate of any vehicle which has been out of service for more than 60 days without prior written consent of the commission.

    Cabs affected by the strike have been out of service for more than 60 days."

I would doubt that "out of service" would apply in a "force majeure" situation like a strike. Is this why Veteran Cab made its offer knowing it would be rejected? They can say that it is not their fault that the cabs are out of service.

  • "Sibley said that before any plates are revoked, a hearing would have to take place and the licensing commission would have to determine whether it's in the public interest to revoke the plates."

Considering what a taxi plate is worth, one could expect a massive lawsuit if the City tried to revoke a plate.

However, Administration made a point of saying in its Report:

  • "Currently, the regime is failing our citizens at this time...It is appreciated that current circumstances are more than likely at the “worst case scenario” ... However, Administration will not forget the worst-case scenario when it brings back a full and comprehensive look at the cap limit.

    Administration respects the concerns expressed by Council as it relates to the current taxicab strike. Council has every right to the raise the issue for the constituents."

That should keep the drivers happy and quiet for another few months.

Oh well, no resolution to the CUPE strike, none with the cab drivers. But things worked out Ok with Red Bull so there is no pressure now.