Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

No Strike Leaks To The Media

Oh my, it is so predictable. Including Eddie's Q&A with the Windsor Star's sister publication, the National Post.

Remember what I wrote about the City's response to the CUPE OLRB complaint:
  • "I like how narrowly the Response was drafted. Look at the limited number of people for which the City takes responsibility.

    Moreover, and here is the important part....everything is tied directly to the media eg source of details obtained by the media. There is no denial that they leaked information to a person who then was the source of the details obtained by the media.

    I especially liked "does not admit it....was responsible for leaks to the media." The City could be responsible for leaks to the whole world but not to the media. Accordingly, the City is saying nothing wrong. Accurate but narrow!"

Now check out the Star story today:

  • "Leaked bargaining details that scuttled talks in the city strike were shared with at least two people by a city manager on the day the information appeared on the evening news, says a city councillor and the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 616...

    Mike Palanacki, the city’s director of operations, was present at the meeting, according to a Star reporter who covered it. Palanacki would neither confirm nor deny Monday that he divulged any details to Markovic and Postma, but he stressed that he did not share any details with the media...

    According to Markovic’s version of events, which was backed by Postma, he and a councillor and a city manager were in a boardroom when the manager received, via his PDA, details about negotiations and a notice that a special session of council had been called for 2 p.m. later that day.

    Markovic, who is unaffiliated with the striking CUPE locals but friends with their leadership, was asked about the union’s position. Markovic told the pair that he wasn’t privy to that information. He said he then asked the manager for the latest details and was given the goods.

    “The manager did give us the numbers,” confirmed Postma. “The fact of the matter is that the manager had the information before the meeting and that’s the problem — who else had it?”

Accurate but narrow.....that's how this City operates.

I wonder what the results of the City's internal investigation are. Were they known before the response was entered by the City? One would think so given that the Transit Union Head was named. I wonder what the terms of reference of the Integrity Commissioner are.

Don't you find it odd that no one has asked Daryl of Eh-Channel who his source was. Maybe he would tell us!

Can you spell again WUC WHITEWASH AUDIT.

In case you do not agree with my BLOG "It Is Time For CUPE To Surrender," here is another article from the Toronto Star that will be used as justification to help crush CUPE Windsor and other public service unions down the road. Check out after what Eddie said too:

  • "City better off to let strike run its full, stinking course

    July 07, 2009
    Benjamin Dachis
    Policy analyst at the C.D. Howe Institute
    Robert Hebdon
    Professor in the faculty of management at mcgill university

    Nearly everyone in Toronto feels the impact of the municipal strike and wishes it were over. The strike is now 16 days long, the same length at which the 2002 strike was ended by provincial legislation out of concern for public health. The provincial government should be commended for not intervening and should continue to declare that it will not legislate workers back.

    If the unions that represent inside and outside municipal workers and the city cannot come to terms within a few weeks, the province will be under political – not to mention health-related – pressure to order an end to the strike. With the stroke of a pen, the province could do so by way of back-to-work legislation.

    However satisfying that might seem in the short term, back-to-work legislation would merely postpone confronting the core disputes that need resolving. The benefits of clean streets and open swimming pools are apparent; the long-term consequences of back-to-work legislation are not.

    The April 2008 back-to-work order for the TTC after its workers suddenly walked out was the first time any province had ordered an end to a strike since 2005. That's a far cry from the 1980s, when there was an average of more than three back-to-work orders per year across the country.

    While governments have refrained from ending strikes, strikes are longer on average than in the past. In the 1980s, the average public sector strike was 37 days. This decade, the average is 56 days. Governments have intervened less partly because there are far fewer strikes now than in the past.

    A back-to-work order would mark a third such move in Ontario alone in a little over a year (the strike at York University was ended by provincial order in January). If the province orders back striking municipal workers in Toronto or Windsor, they should understand the long-term consequences of that decision.

    Back-to-work legislation either refers disputes to arbitration or imposes terms. Both outcomes often leave both sides unhappy with the terms of the agreement.

    Back-to-work legislation merely delays many disputes until the next round of negotiations. We've looked at the effect of hundreds of cases since 1978 of provinces settling disputes with legislation and have found that a contract settled with back-to-work legislation approximately doubles the chances that the next round of negotiations will have the same outcome: a work stoppage with a back-to-work order.

    Also, ending a strike often leaves the union to seek its demands through other means, such as work-to-rule, slowdowns or illegal stoppages. Disputes removed from the heat of a strike simply end up in the slow-cooker. Back-to-work legislation has historically cut in half the likelihood that the next contract agreement will be freely negotiated without a dispute.

    If the city and the unions know the province will make the hard decisions for them, they have no reason to do so themselves. That will likely lead to longer strikes in the future as the two sides wait for the province to intervene.

    A back-to-work order would mean that the province of Ontario is back in the business of ending strikes. Other cities, employers and unions would know that a provincial solution to their bargaining disputes is more likely than before. The ramifications would spread to all negotiations.

    The McGuinty government has always sent disputes ended with special legislation to arbitration. This is more likely to produce wage agreements for the union similar to what was given to the TTC and other city unions.

    The main issue today in Toronto is not only wages, but that accumulated unused sick days are paid out at the end of a worker's career. This creates an unfunded liability for the city.

    A similar liability existed for the Ontario provincial government prior to 1970. Over several rounds of bargaining and arbitration, the sick leave payout (they were more aptly called attendance credits) was replaced with benefits depending on date of hire. The outcome pitted older employees who kept their benefits against newer employees without a payout.

    Without a generous buyout, removal of sick leave payouts can be a very volatile issue. Short-term payouts are likely not affordable for the city – making this a difficult time to eliminate attendance credits.

    Back-to-work legislation will not change the city's short-term affordability problems in buying out the sick-leave payout; putting off reforms until the next round of bargaining will further increase the unfunded liability for the city.

    Back-to-work legislation would just put problems off until the next round of negotiations and leave taxpayers in the position they are now in. The province should, therefore, not legislate an end to the strike – let the city, unions and taxpayers reach terms they can accept."

Here is why Eddie does not want an end by arbitration either:

  • "Q – With no talks taking place, have you considered asking the province to step in and enact back-to-work legislation?

    A – “We don’t want the province to step in. The reason we don’t want the province to step in is to do so would be to short circuit the collective bargaining process and send the matter to arbitration. Our concern is that historically, traditionally arbitrators have been known to give away the farm and we’re not prepared to have our responsibility be to a third-party decision maker. We believe that it’s important to negotiate the deal… between the parties that actually have to live with the deal and have to pay for the deal.

    One, it sets a dangerous precedent for future strikes where people just hold out and hope the legislators will step in and two, it would send the matter to arbitration and we’re not prepared to give away the farm.”

CUPE just does not have a chance.

Ee i ee i NO