Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Monday, July 13, 2009

Here Comes The Mail

More emails coming in for me to share with you. The bakers have been busy with almost 3 bakers' dozens more.

1) It would be just too sweet. I hope our union has jumped all over that one!

Nice, great thinking on that loophole. It may even go so far as to allow our seasonal and part-time employees the option to purchase PBR upon retirement which they currently don't have. What is good for the goose must surely be good for the ganders....?

2) Just read your blog for the first time.

I hope you are correct and we get paid for the torture that Eddie and City Council has put us and our families thru for the past 12 weeks

My fingers are crossed and I am praying for a miracle to end this nightmare

3) [Re Back wages] Hey Ed :

that was a fine article. thanks for saying those words in that order. timely too.

4) Please tell me you have someone ear at 543 or 52 that will listen to you?

5) I am a Cupe member and I must say reading an independant untainted version of what has been going on in Wiindsor for the past number of months has been refreshing.

My wife turned me on to your site shortly after our strike began and I in turn have tried to get as many members of both the public and Cupe to read your blogs to try and gain a fresh perspective on what can only be described as a fiasco.

6) [Re It Is Time For CUPE To Surrender] Boy you sure hit the hammer right on the nail with this one. I told you it was big....even bigger than I had at first thought, sort-of. Yes, I too recall reading that article about the thousands of jobs loss in London. What a network we live in. Isn't that how the President of the US got his start, via the internet and the "network"? Don't worry, there will be more connections as time continues. Further reaching of the "web(s)"...

BTW, you heard it here first, or second, or third.... I do not believe there will be a settlement in this next round of negotiations, simply more of the "dog chasing it's tail" again.

7) You blog really does surprise me, the up to date and factual content does too.

Below please read a letter I have sent to the Windsor Star, Toronto Star, Catherine Swift and her counterparts in Ottawa and Toronto.

To Catherine Swift of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

My husband and I have been married for 37 years. We have supported small business in this city our entire married life. 35 of those years, our support to your stores has been from union wages. We raised our children here, we schooled them here and we have a home here. Every door, window, tile, lawn chair or gift came from small business in this community. I go out of my way to seek out small business to support them and to take advantage of their sometimes unique products.

The advertisement the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and Catherine Swift are running against CUPE tells me that all the support that we have given you all these years means nothing. Your judgement of us "so called civil servants" is as blind and cold as the computer you wrote your letter on. Now that The City of Windsor and CUPE are in negotiations you have decided to come out against members of this community who put their hard earned union wages into your businesses. What you are saying to 1800 union members is that you don't want their business. I do not ask for your support in this strike, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. In this day of competition and rivalry I would have thought that all the support I gave small business over the years would have meant something to this community.

In a border city where cross border shopping is an everyday occurance and people flock to big box stores, you would think that everyones wages would have been welcome. Obviously, union wages are not welcome in the small businesses associated with your organization in this community anymore.

In this family, our question to every small business that we support will be "Are you a member of the C.F.I.B.?" If the answer is yes, we will take our business elsewhere.

8) Will we ever know the truth about the true costs. Or will it be fudged with creative accounting. Is is possible that a person from authority could do a forensic audit of the costs. I cannot see how the city thinks they saved money.

9) "I don't even have the right to respond independently," Francis fumed this week. "I have to reflect what the majority says." It's the law.

Hearing this makes me sick to my stomach. Given this fellow thinks that he alone IS Council...

There exists a council because that is the democratic process. Not this "I am Council" crap...

take the famous "Your Arrogance Knows No Bounds" Canal meeting! Even people from out of town knew about it way in advance while our own council was kept in the dark! We need leadership, a team player, for Windsor...

There now. I feel better. Sorry for the rant. Had to get it out before it turned to acid.

10) Good morning Ed!

Loved today's blog! It provides cannon shot for the next municipal
election to take out all of city council and the mare! If council and
mare won't give up their PRB's, as you pointed out, how can they take
them away from future CUPE workers! Halberstadt has really put his
foot in his mouth this time by voting to keep the PRB's for himself
while trying to deny the same for future CUPE workers, "that's what I
am working for!"

Shakespeare in many of his plays gives the demonstration that a sword
is a double edge weapon, you can use it against others or use it on
your self.

11) Thanks for all the great blogs btw. Even in the midst of this strike, your column gives me a good chuckle at times even though I am in the midst of the current issue. Thanks and keep it up, I am very happy to have found out about your blog and will continue to follow it in the future, even when our issues are resolved.

12) how about a class action suit for loss of wages and punitive damages.

13) I e-mailed Dwight Duncan. There’s been no response. My husband is from the U.S.A. Every time he had a political comment to make or a question to ask his Senator or Congressperson, he always received a response. He used to chastise me about not contacting a politician when I complained about any level of our government. I think now he understands that over here in Windsor, it’s just a waste of time. Canadian politicians don’t want any contact with their constituents, and, if they happen to receive any correspondence, they simply don’t respond.

I visited Dwight Duncan’s office on Lauzon Parkway. My request of him was to assist the Windsor City workers in returning to work by being legislated back to work. As you know, after three months on strike, it does not matter how many times, or ways, or signatures collected, the mayor, who, by the way, does not sit at the bargaining table, still refuses to bargain, or call for arbitration. As always, it’s the Mayor’s way or no way. I heard him on the radio this morning stating that although one counselor liked the idea of cost sharing P.R.B.s at 50-50, or the fact that four counselors met with CAW representatives and discussed the City strike, those individual councilors do not represent the all of the City Council.

Anyway, four of my fellow constituents sat with me in the waiting area of Dwight Duncan’s Windsor office... The Honourable Mr. Duncan was in Toronto attending a meeting. Apparently he had been advised that we were in his office, but did not have an opportunity to respond. I had advised the M.P.P.’s office workers that we would wait for Mr. Duncan’s response to our request. Around 11:00 a.m., I left the office without a response from Mr. Duncan. I was advised today that nothing fruitful happened.

Apparently CUPE isn’t as important as the CAW. Dwight Duncan had no problem with arranging to meet with CAW to discuss their pension and benefits. Perhaps the number of CAW members made the difference... Personally, I think we should visit him again, this time en masse and with help from members of other Unions. Perhaps then we may get a response from the Honourable Dwight Duncan.

With regard to Sandra Pupatello, [I was told] told that she had been in contact with a member of Ms. Pupatello’s people, and advised that since Ms. Pupatello only had one part-time person staffing her Windsor office manning both her phone lines, that she would prefer contact via e-mail. In other words, don’t call me, I’ll call you. She is touring around Ontario while she concentrates on learning about her new position so that she will be prepared when parliament returns in the fall...

14) I've been reading your blogs regularly in recent weeks, especially those related to the strike. I am a CUPE 543 member and I have appreciated your creative and in-depth examination of the issues.

15) Sorry I haven't responded to any of your blogs yet - but don't worry - I've been reading every single one of them! After reading your blog re: the big picture of what CUPE (both local and national) is up against, I can't help but submit my comments.

I agree completely with your thoughts about how politicians globally are trying to reign in costs by going after their own employees. Unfortunately, CUPE Windsor has to be the guinea pigs. I think Sid knows how much is riding on the outcome of the Windsor strike - if CUPE folds here and gives in to the demands to eliminate PRB's for new hires, it starts a slippery slope for all the other municipal workers nation-wide. Who knows what will be clawed back next? As a fairly young working professional, it's scary to think of what our work environments are going to be like 10 years from now. We are witnessing the descimation of the middle class. I'm just now starting to see how this country is becoming a country of the have's and the have-nots. I had the privledge of growing up in a typical middle-class household, and I guess I just grew up to think that I would have at least what my parents had, if not more - but I'm starting to seriously wonder about that. Both my husband and I are well-educated and are holding down full-time jobs and living within our means, but the dreams of having the big house, luxury cars, trips, the clothes and lifestyle that we thought we could get by getting our education now hang in the balance. More and more of our income goes into RRSP's for fear that our pensions that we contribute to through our work places won't be there when we retire. Without legislation in place to protect those pensions, company's can declare bankruptcy, or mismanage those funds and say 'Oh well' sorry about that but you're pension doesn't exist. If our benefits are taken away, our income will start having to pay more for the healthcare that we need that's not covered by the province - dental care, eyeglasses, physio if you get hurt, prescription drugs, etc. etc. After all this, there's not much money left to pump into the economy - to be called a good consumer. I think that we as a society got to rely on debt to buy us the things that we 'liked' to have. But in the future, I see more and more people having to rely on debt just to get the things that are necessary. How sad.

I apologize if my thoughts seem a little jumbled, but I have a lot to say! I think the recent comments posted by Eddie are a joke. He mentions that he does not want to see the province step in, nor does he want to go to arbitration because he thinks it will 'short-circuit the bargaining process' and 'interfere' with negotiations that should be between the parties that have to agree (and pay) for the results. Yes Eddie, your sentiments may be correct, but guess what? The parties that are involved aren't exactly bargaining lately are they? The parties can't even get back to the table to talk to each other... how can any resolution possibly be found if the parties can't even talk? And who is Eddie to talk about honouring the collective bargaining process - I don't believe that the City has bargained in good faith from the beginning. And we all know who's leading this bargaining - Eddie. So he's got a lot of nerve to spout off to the press about 'honouring' the bargaining process.

So much to think about, so little time to discuss everything. Maybe I'll try to get in a few lines a little more often.

Thanks for allowing this outlet to share our thoughts and feelings.

16) I enjoy reading your blog and have been doing so on a regular basis. Each morning I print off your articles that pertain to our CUPE strike and share them with my fellow picketers that don’t have access to a computer.

July 6, 2009


A Statement from the Concerned Citizens Action Committee

The City of Windsor strike could have been over many weeks ago.

Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis and the Councilors announced they will not even consider the possibility of taking unsettled issues to arbitration. Why? Because the arbitrator’s decision might go against them.

It's like the Toronto Maple Leafs saying they won't show for a game because they might not win.


Arbitration is part of the process of FREE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING. Free bargaining, fair negotiation and just labour practices mean BOTH sides sit and negotiate issues at the bargaining table as relative equals.

Arbitration is a choice offered in legislation so that strikers can return to work while disagreements can be sorted out by an impartial third party.

Still, in secret vote after secret vote, Mayor Francis and the Council insist, “We won't arbitrate!” That's like the Leafs saying they'll play only if they rip pages from the rule book.


By refusing to play by the rules of the process, by keeping matters in secret, by spending enormous funds on the hiring of strikebreakers and anti-labour lawyers at taxpayer cost, the Mayor and City Council have willfully shunted their responsibilities, torn our community apart, denied essential services to citizens, caused untold frustration and passed on economic hardship and grief onto city employees. It has made Windsor the political laughingstock of Ontario.

In their attempts to bring a union down they're willing to tear an entire community apart. They'd rather see us fighting amongst ourselves.

Free collective bargaining a right. Arbitration is part of the process.

It's time that the Mayor, City Councilors and city officials play by the rules.

18) [RE the leak] I read this last night and the first thing that made my eyes pop was WHY IN GOD'S NAME WERE THEY SENDING THIS KIND OF SENSITIVE INFORMATION THROUGH A COMPUTER. (PDA's are computers)This appalls me, everyone knows this is not a safe way of providing private information to primary people, it is almost like it was deliberate to make it leak.

19) List 3 Positive things that this mayor and city (clowncil) has done for this city of Windsor. And please do not tell me about the WFCU center that Mayor McNamara got for Tecumseh that cost that city 0$$$$$$$.JUST THREE THATS ALLLLL.

20) We may never know the cost of DRIC. They are now issuing multiple RFPs for various segments of the job.

21) I liked your two past posts...the thing between Frances and Duncan is very interesting. I sensed that there is a larger agenda out there, and Windsor is a test case. When you think that most everything that created the middle class
came out of collective bargaining, the corporate-government collaboration, and corporate-union collaboration to turn back those gains, if successful, will change a lot. liberal democracy is an ideology, and a powerful one at that, that has its roots in the 19th century, when the divide between rich and poor was deep and wide.

22) Perhaps Dwight should remember 1800 families and friends are a lot of votes come
next election.

Thank you for printing the truth out here, we all appreciate it.

23) Eddie came back just in time....

“We’re not perfect — we recognize we made a mistake,” said Francis

Um, which one?

24) I'm sending in this letter to the star....I doubt they will publish it....on with absurdity campaign! BTW, you were right about not getting any response to my letter to the City Council.

Very Big Idea for Windsor’s Future

The Mayor of Windsor likes to think of “big” ideas for Windsor like Greenlink, Red Bull Races, Olympic Games, and a canal so we can pull visitors away from Venice, Italy.

Here is an even bigger idea.

Imagine the Detroit-Windsor region as the world’s first international “back to nature” park. Windsor’s “new” look, produced by its long labor dispute, is already drawing rave reviews from naturalists who like the “wild” look of Windsor parks, attracting new birds and wildlife. And, we know that large tracks of Detroit have now reverted to prairies and there is talk about turning this land into farms. So, let's start planning.

First we ask the Feds to declare existing Windsor boundaries as a national park. Since the Mayor of Windsor claimed that he was responsible for bringing the Super Bowl to Detroit, I am sure he can convince the current Detroit city council to ask Washington to support the idea.

For those now living in city boundaries, they would be granted 99-year leases, lots of time to enjoy their homes for themselves and their children’s lives. Windsor residents, companies and businesses can start migrating to the county. The new bridge will direct traffic into the county that will be enjoying an economic boom. An exit from the new bridge can be built for tourists who want to visit the new international park.

Then we ask the UN to declare the Detroit River basin an international heritage site in order to return it to the pristine state that it was before the Europeans arrived. Lots of donations would come flooding in. The Mayor could spend the rest of his term traveling the world to raise funds for this project.

Ecologists would celebrate. Tourists coming into Canada, and those going into the USA via the Ambassador Bridge and tunnel would get wonderful impressions of both countries, wild natural settings full of fauna, flora and wildlife. It would bring millions of visitors to our region.

You have to wonder if this was the Mayor’s plan all along. If it was, we all have to admit he is one clever guy. What a legacy.

Now, all we have to do is to get the City’s planning department to do the planning. Unfortunately, all of them are working in social services.

25) Interesting blog today - it was bad for my blood pressure though and made me run for my Ativan!!!

Have you ever read Naomi Klein? I believe it references the term "disaster capitalism" in the title. It was an incredibly interesting but very scary read. Your blog reminded me of a lot of what I had read in that book. See if you can find the book and peruse it - I would love to see what you think about how it all may interrelate.

26) Well researched. Well written. Eddie and friends can take joy in thinking they pounded down those city workers. Unfortunately, when a group goes on strike, and I've been there, you're always taking a chance. You have no guarantee of victory and the workers may lose a lot. But agree with CUPE members or not, they will at least be able look themselves in the mirror and truthfully say they didn't knuckle under to a pompous mayor and with a few exceptions, a week kneed council.

27) Very interesting blog on is It time for cupe to surrender, Its starting to all make sense. I'm a cupe member with local 82 and would love to get back to work, but I do support what we are fighting for.

28) Maybe this strike was useless and fruitless but I hope everyone takes a learning experience with them when it's all done.

First and foremost I hope the Mayor has learned that his managers, supervisors, etc. are not all they are cracked up to be.

Some got their positions in ways that use to be the norm. You know working your way up. Some of these managers got their position from just knowing the right person, some but only a few worked the field for many years and then got to be management.
The ones that were brought in as new hires did not learn the business from the ground up so they have made some serious mistakes during the strike. Some of these managers are useless without the employees under them. They are known to be lazy individuals whose first job in the morning is reading at least 2 papers, having a coffee and then playing on the computers.

With all these managers and overtime you think they would have done a better job than they did, but no they did not they just bled the system by doing as little as possible while getting paid as much as possible.

We found out that the taxpayer waiting for a rebate will be mad as hell that they aren't getting it and will blame the union worker not the Mayor for "again" making false promises.

We found out that our friends and neighbours hate the city workers and are jealous.

We found out that the police force feel they deserve benefits after retirement not the 543 or 82 worker.

Never will the union employee put faith in [the Mayor] again.

We found out that the people of Windsor think this strike is about garbage men and grass cutters that are overpaid. We found out that some think the words inside workers are all female. We found out the people who hate and scream the most do not know a damn thing about the corporation of the city of Windsor.

We found out that people lie and we call it politics. We found that city councillors are worried about themselves and their next years part time paycheque. Is there any of them that really care about people. Are these people to be trusted with running the business of this city.

We found out that many many people lie. It is beyond me how these people were brought up educated and all through their childhood parents allowed the lies. They must have got away with so many that it became routine.

29) Thanks to Councillor Postma's BLOG, I would suggest that the area around her house be called

"After I left the [in-camera meeting to discuss labour negotiations where she walked out] I went
home, sat in my hot tub and drank two margaritas. It was relaxing."

hahahahhaaaaaaaaaa .... that's where i'd be going!!!!!

30) Whatever comes of this strike will leave a disgruntled
bunch of employees.

31) I just sent this to all Windsor City Councilor. Thought you might be interested:

Dear members of the Windsor City Council

First, as a resident of Lakeshore, I want to thank you.

Your inability to deal with your labor dispute may well be encouraging companies and event planners to come to the county. Tecumseh will be good host for the Dragon Boat Race and we hope that more events and business come to the county soon. Your loss is our gain.

Of course, we don’t like your citizens dumping their garbage here, and hopefully you will agree to compensate us for providing that service.

I am concerned, however, that the poor reputation of Windsor rubs off on towns like Lakeshore, Tecumseh and other municipalities in Essex County. The longer the labour dispute goes on, the more likely the image of the whole county will suffer.
I do have some ideas that you may want to consider solve your current labor dispute.

I have no evidence to counter my belief that the Mayor of Windsor and 6 of the City’s councilors want to break the CUPE Union. If that is the case, why not consider firing all of the city workers. In terms of service this should not be a problem:

• The Mayor is on record of saying that 75% of the city’s residents are managing their own garbage
• The former Windsor gardens are now being reclassified as “natural areas,” there is no need to do anything about that.
• The lack of city programs for kids, like pools and recreation programs, well, most of them are working class and poor, so few people really care.
• If you don’t have city workers, then the scabs you bringing in will no longer be scabs. In fact, you can offer them minimum wages jobs with no benefits. Think of the savings!
• Imagine how impressed other Ontario cities would be with the fact that you can deliver city services paying people minimum wages…in fact, consider sub-contracting, perhaps with a firm in India. They could do the inside workers jobs for perhaps 3 dollars and hour.
• Once you deal with CUPE, you can go after the CAW and other unions who are so greedy. Just image how proud our Chamber of Commerce would be...

Back to my original point.

It’s getting embarrassing living so close to a dying city, a city with no downtown, a city with bars and casinos, a city that benefited so much from its relationship with organized labor in the past and is now trying to rid itself of unions, a city that is working hard to bring in low wage jobs like call centers, a city of citizens that believe that everyone should be living on minimum wages with no benefits.
Fortunately, the new bridge plans are moving along and travelers coming in from Michigan will soon be able to avoid much of Windsor and come directly into the county, into Tecumseh and LaSalle. This will facilitate the recruitment of new businesses into the county.

One possible outcome is that Windsor will become a provincial park, with natural gardens. Perhaps the abandoned buildings in the downtown can be replaced with farms, so you could have a “real” farmers market. The University could build a real campus on abandoned land.

Anyway, I’ve already taken up a lot of your time during your two week council meeting recess. Enjoy your vacation.

32) Hi Ed,

Thank you for your refreshing blog! Re: your comments:

"From looking at the Star online comments, it would seem that they have minimal support from Windsorites. " Surprisingly though, I have not received very many anti-CUPE notes notwithstanding the readership demographics of this BLOG. "

The Windsor Star doesn't let all submitted comments be published. I know from experience that they filter out the pro-CUPE ones - at least 8 of mine have never seen the light of day. Oh they'll let the odd, mild one in every once in a while so they don't show their complete bias - usually by CUPE members saying they want to get back to work.

Try it with a few friends yourself and see what odds you get.

33) Ed, here is a video [from A-Channel] exemplifying the childish antics of the CUPE workers who tried to stop the volunteers who have given of their time to get a farmer's market downtown. They stopped them from cleaning up the facilities yesterday and apparently tried it again this morning.

Hope you have your snow blower tuned up for next winter so you can clean your street... hopefully these idiots will be out until then. The incident of denying the Dragon Boat Races from being held at the Stop 69 park for the Cancer Society did it for me...can't stand their antics.

34) I have been advocating on behalf of our membership for some time now, that a vote must be DEMANDED! Time to allow the membership to decide. I happen to KNOW that there is a considerable number of members that share my opinion; we feel betrayed by our employer and deserted by our union leaders. We've been chewed up and spat out by the citizens we work for, and we're terrified of our peers. We're broke and broken down.

I say the best route to resolution is to DEMAND our union to allow us to vote on the last proposal. This is our right, in accordance with Labour Laws. Union membership does not negate democracy.

35) As I read these trashy news articles & editorials in disgust at the lack of wisdom, the self-servitude of the wealthy, I nearly vomit anymore. While these editorials trample over the working man, repeatedly making reference to "sense of entitlement" and how the working man should not expect to be entitled to anything at all, I can't help but picture little Oliver with his empty bowl saying, "Please Sir, I want some more." And the haughty, insulted keeper of the home hammering
him down for having the audacity to ask for it! Forever punishing him for the very thought that his empty stomach was any measure on what his "entitlement" is!

36) [Copy of a Letter from Brian Masse sent to me]

Thank you for copying me on your email and thoughts about the current situation. As you are aware, I have spoken to both sides and publically have and continue to call for arbitration, but as a Federal Representative I have no authority to make this happen as it is municipal issue overseen by the Province of Ontario.

In addition I have visited a number of picket lines, including another one today. I have also attended a recent rally on pensions speaking about the value of public and private pensions, not only to seniors but our community. As a parent I have also decided to not change to private swimming or soccer activities for my children during the strike as I respect and enjoy the services provided by Parks and Recreation.

Thanks again for the email, I will continue to do what I can to help the current situation.

Yours truly,