CUPE Strike: The Laughable Side
By the way, with respect to the wages, we will see who may wind up laughing last about them too if a labour litigator gives an opinion about whether there is a way for CUPE members to get them back. Can you imagine what would happen then to our Mayor and Council's re-electability chances! Do you think the voters would take it out on the near-invisible Sandra, Dwight, Joe and Brian too?
WHAT JUNIOR/EDDIE RIFT
Oh my, Junior is so upset that people do not know his true position. Of course, he could have told us during the strike, not after, but that is another story.
So far no major counter-attack by the Mayor on someone who dared say he was wrong and could be blamed. Highly unusual and totally out of character. If you do see Eddie going after Junior soon, then you know who reads my BLOG at City Hall.
Frankly, and this is just me so you form your own opinion dear reader, methinks Junior doth protest too much.
The key indication of support for the Mayor's tactics had to come early on in the strike. If Councillor MOM is correct, the strikers were doomed right from the start. In effect, the savings that the City made by not paying salaries, all $30M of it, was used against them to crush them.
Again, as the Councillor said:
- "Last week we made the decision to allow our team more freedom to negotiate a contract that is fair to both parties and we also agreed that binding arbitration is not the right path for us. I strongly believe that for the past 7 weeks council has not given our negotiating team the tools to truly negotiate. We have set parameters for them but have not given them the autonomy required to get a contract. In essence they have been negotiating with themselves."
If this is true, and why would Councillor lie about it in public, then all of the Councillors agreed to this approach. Not one single one of them, not even Junior, said NO and went public by disagreeing. Not one Councillor publicly attacked this bad faith labour negotiating stance, not even the so-called pro-labour types! Not even Junior.
Now let's see what Junior had to say about his rift with the Mayor:
- "Ward 4 Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. agreed that the strike has damaged relationships on council. "To be frank with you, I've had a great relationship with the mayor over the last five years -- up until the last few weeks.
"At the end of the day, I continue to support all the good work that he does for the city, but very much question his approach to labour relations"
What time priod would "the last few weeks" cover: the time after the May stairwell fiasco or after the Caboto fiasco when Junior spoke out or when a meeting was arranged with CAW while Eddie was in Europe? What about after "leasing" land to Red Bull so that they could clean up the property downtoiwn rather than the City?
Let's be generous and say that when talking about 15 weeks, a third or 5 weeks is a "few."
I am sure that you see what I am driving at---Junior apparently was there supporting Eddie's approach that Councillor MOM talked about: council has not given our negotiating team the tools to truly negotiate.
ARE JUNIOR AND THE COUNCILLOR FORMERLY KNOWN AS COUNCILLOR BUDGET THE BEST OF FRIENDS
Of course they have to be for heaven's sake even though they have a strong distaste for each other. Politics sometimes makes strange bedfellows.
The former Councillor Budget is the supposed Council penny-pincher and right-winger who plays that role perfectly if you believe the Star Columnists.
Brister is not the only one to play the vote game. It is easy to do so when one is a vote-counter and knows that something will pass with a big majority. It's easy to vote NO then. It would not surprise me if we saw that during the CUPE strike too during some of the in camera votes by several Councillors.
Obviously, the Councillor will be a target for the UNION forces during the next election after his completely insensitive remarks re outsourcing. Who better to help out Junior, Council's supposed left-winger and pro-union Councillor!
What better way for Junior to try and rebuild his union image than supposedly attacking Councillor Dave right after he also supposedly attacked the Mayor about their labour relations rift! A two-fer in one week for Junior.
Of course, no one wants to hurt Junior by pointing out that his support for CUPE appears to have beeen less than robust (and how long were the taxi drivers, part of CAW, out on strike without hearing much from Junior) so have a nice war on the front page of the Star and everyone will forget.
Junior's chance to run federally if Comartin retires is back on track as is the CAW's attempt to win over CUPE members. Imagine, rehabilitating Junior's union bona fides without the need for a single public meeting too.
I wonder if this was a freebie from the Eminence Greasie just to prove how well the masterful manipulator manages many multi-media manoeuvres magnificently. Say that out loud three times.
EDDIE AND DAVE: WAS THERE A MAYORS' PATTERN BARGAINING PLOT
Sid Ryan of CUPE was accused of using the Windsor strike to help CUPE in Toronto and elsewhere.
That should not be a big surprise if really true since unions have done that in the auto industry and with police, fire and teachers for years.
Should it come as a shock if management does the same!
I have suggested before that Governments were working together to crush their unions. Heck Deputy Premier George Smitherman was not afraid to be photographed in Toronto helping clean up although I noticed that our Ministers, Sandra and Dwight, did not have the guts to do so.
My own view is that the fight was meant to be tough down here because who cares about Windsor to be blunt. Toronto workers would eventually have to be legislated back otherwise unless Windsor CUPE was crushed.
The problem was that although planning had gone on for years, when it came time to execute, Eddie failed. Again.
If Councillor MOM was right, the lack of negotiating should have forced CUPE to knuckle under right away (heck many were the lowest paid workers at City Hall) and also resulted in the fire fighters losing out in their arbitration. CUPE lasting for so long was the first event that the Mayor never contemplated.
Then we had the stairwell fiasco that could result in a bad faith decision against the City. Please do not tell me that this did not influence the Mayor back to the negotiating table. After all, the hearing was put on hold wasn't it!
To be blunt, CUPE would have exchanged the bad faith claim for no discipline but for the CABOTO FIASCO! Another Eddie failure to the extreme. Someone could have been seriously hurt or arrested because of his desperation.
Isn't it amazing how quickly both Toronto and Windsor settled after Eddie panicked and totally blew it! It would NOT surprise me if this event alone scared David Miller and other Ontario Mayors who did not want to be tarred with Eddie's misadventure. While not identical, the tems of settlement were very similar. Both cities had initially advocated for concessions in their contracts and picked ONE PR issue as their high profile strike issue, one which had no financial payoff for their Cities for years down the road but which allowed the Mayors to throw out big liability numbers.
Of course you want support for my position don't you. You want a reason.
Clearly, if you are David Miller in Toronto, who barely received approval for his deal from his Council, you need a scape-goat. Thus, why not tar and feather Eddie. I am surprised that the Toronto media have not figured this out yet since they gave Eddie so much coverage when things were going well in Windsor.
If they looked closely at what happened in both cities after Caboto, then their big guns could be turned on our Mayor.
Remember that I told you that the important part of Windsor Star stories and Columns are printed at the end. Gord did not disappoint me again. In his Saturday column, ignore the 90% silliness at the beginning and focus on this right at the end:
- "city residents eagerly embraced the clear, common-sense contractual message delivered by Francis and a majority of councillors. They understood what this fight was about and they took it on.
What a contrast between Windsor and Toronto. CUPE won in Toronto because a mealy-mouthed Mayor David Miller and his NDP council cronies never got off their socialist backsides to offer more than token resistance during that city's strike."
You see it is damage control time already. David did not lose because of Eddie's messes that ruined the Mayors' bargaining strategy; he lost because Miller was too pro worker!
The Eminence Greasie is still smiling.
THIRD OR FOURTH MAN IN THE RING
Mini-Gord has not been around long enough to understand that the campaign for the next Mayoral election started the day after the last election. He was too busy covering autos to notice.
This is not another world-class sports event to put Windsor on the world's stage hosted by our Sports Jock Mayor but rather the event to choose who may be used to split the vote in a Francis/Marra mayoral fight assuming Eddie runs for a third term. Or to provide an alternative to Marra if Eddie does not run.
Is the Councillor formerly....oh you know who I mean...going to run even though he claimed to Gord:
- "In fact, said Brister, he has zero interest in becoming mayor.
“Write that rumour off forever. It’s not something I ever want to do and it’s just never going to happen."
How else to explain his pandering for the right-wing vote in Windsor? And his fear of pubic debate with Junior or his absolute terror to appear on Face-To-Face since John Fairley would destroy his career with one lifting of his eye-brow. Such Brister bravado, such big talk, such lack of intestinal fortitude.
But the biggest non-surprise is the canal-man, Dave Cooke, who is being boosted by the Star either to be the Mayor if Eddie does not run or to use the Cooke/Brister team to allow Eddie to sneak in. The big fear would be that in a 3-way race (without Brister) either Marra or Cooke could win.
Former NDP Minister Cooke was virtually invisible during the CUPE strike as were Federal NDP MPs Comartin and Masse. Recently appointed to the Undevelopment Commission Board to build up his CV for business voters, the Star quoted him extensively at strike end:
- "Finally, some words of wisdom.
Said former Windsor MPP Dave Cooke: "Both sides have to keep in mind that this has been heartfelt on both sides. There have been mistakes made on both sides."
But, he said, "for the sake of the city, for the sake of the individuals, we have to move on. We really have to..."
That's the bigger question, says Cooke: how to rebuild the tattered relationship. You can't have successful public policy if morale is in the toilet.
Council will have to take a good, long look at what went wrong, too, said Cooke.
Clearly, he said, there were major problems in the way the city handled the dispute.
"I can't really recall a situation where it has been that chaotic," he said, citing individual members of council writing on blogs and calling meetings, disrupting negotiations and exacerbating the tension.
This dispute might have eclipsed the 99-day Ford strike of 1945, but unlike that historic event, this one will be remembered for how not to handle a labour dispute.
Councillors will have to come to grips with the mistakes they made and learn from them, said Cooke.
"If they can't do this," he said, "then they don't deserve to be there."
OOOOOOO.. I am so impressed with his words of wisdom although he too suffers from the "move on" pandemic disease I see. Another politician opening his mouth after the war ended. As the Star's Editors gushed:
- "Cooke is right. We have to get past this, for the well-being of everyone."
While not knocking Eddie but "Council," as if they counted at all, or the result to keep the conservatives happy, Cooke makes the effort to keep union support by attacking "mistakes" and suggesting that non-learners should not be on Council.
Take a look at his work as U of W Board member/Chair to see what kind of Mayor he would make.
His support for the Engineering Complex downtown would have been a huge mistake for students and the University, but would have helped Eddie politically. His actions helped stall construction for a considerable period of time thereby increasing costs.
Some might think that he should actually try to accomplish something at the University of which he is Board Chair rather than spending time working on absurd canal projects. Like helping to raise big chunks of money for all of the University projects. That he got involved at all with the canal is a huge negative about his judgment considering his comments in the past.
Speaking of money, in the story about the new fund-raiser at the University, I was shocked at Cooke's attitude:
- "Cooke said he is looking to Bergholz to make connections with alumni associations, local businesses and supporters around the country to advance the university's fundraising goals.
"It's quite impossible to put a target or percentage increase on it," said Cooke. "This kind of work takes time to develop, especially in this economy. It's a long term process. But we like what he has done in Chicago and Illinois. I think he'll be a real asset to the university."
In other words, little accountability while he is Chair so neither Bergholz nor he can be judged. And with a built-in excuse already---the economy if there is failure. Judge in the long-term ie after he has left office.
With all the University cut-backs, I trust that the Chair has ensured that his new fund-raiser has enough money and staff to do what is needed or he is doomed to fail.
During the strike, Cooke in fact started his mayoral campaign suggesting we all get along together. His major campaign plank so far to be used to hit County mayors over the head:
- "Cooke goes further, advocating one, streamlined regional government. "The only way to have a united front is to have one government," he said...
Windsor and the seven county towns would retain municipal councils dealing with local issues. A regional council with representation by population would deal with regional issues like land use planning, economic planning and police and fire protection.
This is the largest urban area in Ontario still governed by local councils from the late 1800s, said Cooke."
RATS, WHERE WAS DOCTOR HEIMANN
I did not know he had this power. With the rat population increasing and endangered snakes appearing in the centre of the City, he was virtually invisible. No Windsor Star stories similar to Toronto Star stories. Oh, no wonder, that would have meant arbitration:
- "Meanwhile, it appears Toronto's medical officer of health had grave public health concerns about the city's strike lasting beyond the end of the month, worries that would likely have convinced Ontario's chief medical health officer to recommend back to work legislation.
As the strike entered its sixth week, Toronto's medical officer of health Dr. David McKeown became increasingly concerned about the "cumulative effects'' of the loss of the services caused by the fact public health workers were among those on the picket lines.
"By the end of the month, I was becoming quite concerned about the impact of the loss of health services,'' McKeown said last night.
McKeown was providing regular updates to Ontario's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Arlene King, who has the authority to recommend that the province end the strike for public health reasons.
King could not be reached for comment but McKeown said as Aug. 1 approached, he was becoming alarmed about the loss or reduction of key services such as home visits after high-risk births, sexual health counselling, food safety and restaurant inspections. He was also worried the critical "ramping up'' needed to prepare for an anticipated second wave of H1N1 flu in the fall would be delayed.
Miller, who kept in constant contact with McKeown, said yesterday the shortage of public health workers "wasn't sustainable forever.''
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY
Greasie must have been away celebrating!
It looks like Eddie acted again on his own as he did with the Caboto fiasco. All the goodwill achieved and the glory for the Mayor blown in one story, down the drain:
- "Strike refund less than $50
And the rebate could be even smaller
Homeowners shouldn't expect more than $50 when municipal tax rebate cheques are issued in a month or two, according to Mayor Eddie Francis and several city councillors.
The mayor, in the middle of the 101-day municipal strike, had vowed homeowners would get a refund cheque for services lost once the work stoppage was over.
He estimated Wednesday it will be at least one per cent of a homeowner's taxes -- or $26 on an average $150,000 home. But if council decides to expand the rebate to business owners, apartment tenants or industry, it would fall below that, he said."
$30M saved and only about $2-4M for taxpayers rebates. Uh-huh.
Oh do expect more in the end. That makes Eddie a Star if it is $100! It's called exceeding expectations even if they are minimal ones. There, that is a freebie for Eddie and Council from the BLOGMEISTER while Greasie is away.
Heck, Eddie has to be in a panic now. He forgot. He can always adjust cash from the Brighton Beach money after it goes into the reserves.
As one of my readers claimed (I have no idea whether it is true or not but the claim will spread like wild-fire):
- "I believe the cost to issue a cheque is about 25 to 30 dollars, that is the whole process charge. Cost of chq, cost of person to produce it, cost for the envelope, cost for the mail, cost for cashing and clearing, cost for balance the monthly city bank account. If and that is IF there is a refund cheque the city would be smart JUST TO credit each taxpayer account, to go against the next tax installment or bill.
Issuing the cheque would cost more than the cheques will be worth."
WAS THE FARM SOLD AFTER ALL
Given all of the concessions made by the Old Farmer McFrancis and the low tax rebate amount, the answer has to be, after looking at the straw bales at Optimist Park,