Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Will CUPE Fold

Short and sweet.

Incredible pressure is being put now on CUPE workers to back off and knuckle under. After being 3 months on strike, do CUPE members have the resolve--and the personal finances--to continue on?

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.

Frankly, the expectation was that when Toronto CUPE was going was going to be legislated back to work, then Windsor CUPE members would too. If that does not happen or does not happen for a month or two more, then what?

Consider the following:
  • Should CUPE be concerned about CAW? Probably not but who knows

  • Polling being done in Windsor with the strike being a big topic in it

  • No negotiations while Eddie was away and no negotiations scheduled

  • Pupatello, showing her toughness, calls Torontonians a bunch of babies over their strike

  • Eddie becoming the media darling by "talking trash" and telling Toronto how to fight a strike

  • Councillors believing that playing tough on CUPE is winning them votes for the next election

  • The putdown of Councillor Jones

  • "The Ontario legislature will not force striking municipal employees in Windsor or Toronto back to work any time soon, says MPP Dwight Duncan."

  • Dwight only thinking about the City's side, and supporting it, not CUPE's: "Duncan, Ontario's minister of finance and revenue, said it's clear that the city doesn't support binding arbitration, which local CUPE leaders Jean Fox and Jim Wood have been urging."

  • The Globe suggested today the following which suggests CUPE's concerns are irrelevant:

    "Some think Premier Dalton McGuinty's hands are tied in Toronto because of the 11-week-old strike by indoor and outdoor workers in Windsor. Mr. McGuinty said last week he has no intention of interfering in the Toronto dispute as long as both sides are at the table. But Frank Reid, director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto, said he'd be “very surprised if they [the province] let the Toronto strike drag on as long as they have the Windsor strike. We are more spoiled here.” If the province moves, it would only be after getting a clear call for help from the city."

  • Stories about garbage not being an issue since 75-80% being picked up and trash entrepreneurs---and their trucks--- being made heroes.

  • Windsor saving a ton of money, $24M, with the strikers out minus of course the strike costs

  • An Ontario Government spokesman claims, whatever this means: "Matt Blajer suggested there is no mediator for talks in Windsor because there’s nothing for the two sides to talk about.

    “At this point in time, the elements do not yet seem to be in place that would warrant the mediator to reconvene the talks,” said Blajer. He said the ministry “continues to confer with the parties … once the elements are in place, we would reconvene the talks.”

  • And then to top it off, a story where Toronto's Mayor says "Miller said progress has been made at the bargaining table in recent days on a number of non-monetary items and he believes it's "time to say yes" to a deal" which would mean no legislation and Windsor CUPE being hung out to dry.

  • Of course, Gord gives it away too, just add in the strike approach: "It's not quite hugs and kisses. But it appears Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis have laid to rest their vicious little spat and are busy forging ties that could help end the border infrastructure war between the city and the province.

    That war has been overshadowed -- chased right off the radar for close to three months -- by the tension-filled showdown between striking city hall employees and defiant Windsor taxpayers."
I really admire this kind of investigative journalism by Star opinion-makers {sarcasm intended}:
  • "But you know, when they're standing around like that in a circle?" he says, a sly smile growing under his big mustache. "It reminds me of when they're working -- five guys watching one guy."

    Several tires were shredded one day by a purpose-built device slipped under the wheels of their big truck while they waited to cross a picket line. That week they worked for almost nothing.

    All of the damage has occurred while they were in their trucks, bringing garbage into the Malden Road transfer station. Now they take a video camera to tape the faces of the people who approach their vehicle on picket lines.

    "You know it's strikers," Ted says of the damage. "How do they get away with it without being charged?"

    They say they're threatened every day, and they've been followed by strikers in caravans of vehicles who harass their customers. At night, threats are yelled from cars as they sit on their front porch. "In front of the kids, too," Darren says."

What will happen next? I doubt if CUPE can back off although there is a growing amount of pressure from suffering rank and file members to go back to work. Some may even be willing to cross the picket lines and face the wrath of co-workers rather than seeing their families destroyed financially and emotionally any longer.

My suspicion is that when the polls suggest that most CUPE workers have had enough, and hopefully for the Mayor and Council if Toronto has been settled or if Toronto only has been legislated back to work, look for the City to do the following as was threatened some time ago:
  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said Sunday that council has discussed bypassing CUPE leadership and offering a deal directly to union members.

    Francis said in a phone interview that there is a provision in the labour laws that allows the city to hold a “board-supervised vote,” where the city’s last offer would be put before the membership to vote upon.

    “It would be supervised by the Ministry of Labour,” the mayor said."

What will happen at that time is anyone's guess.