Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, October 01, 2009

What the Strike Minutes Show

I decided that I would comment briefly on the Strike Minutes after reading the Star story about them. I could not believe everything that I read. It confirmed to me again that I made a smart decision to cancel my subscription.

I cannot do a full analysis at this time because more facts are needed. Hopefully, we will get them in Junior's report.

I am no fan of Junior but I am so annoyed at the words used by the Reporter or Editor in describing him. The tactic is so obvious. Nothing like trying to discredit him in advance because there is obviously concern about what he will reveal:
  • Lewenza on Tuesday pleaded for time

  • he can explain how those votes prove his contention

  • Asked to cite any examples among the motions debated and voted on that would help his point

  • And he railed Monday night against media reporting

  • “I don’t know what he’s getting at,” Postma said of Lewenza’s effort. As perhaps the councillor who sided most with Lewenza

As you will see in what I have outlined below, it could be dynamite!

The Star story started off this way
  • "Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. introduced the original motion to end post-retirement benefits for Windsor’s unionized workers, according to a document released this week revealing how council debated and voted behind closed doors during CUPE contract talks.

    The Sept. 15, 2008, motion, seconded by Coun. Alan Halberstadt and approved unanimously, was made seven months before mediated talks broke off and 1,800 CUPE workers began what became one of Windsor’s most protracted strikes."

Here is the Motion in case you have not read it. And by the way, you will read a number of Motions throughout
Find the words PRB if you can. The Star was WRONG. There was nothing there about PRBs and the By-law had nothing to do with them either! Good way to start wasn't it!

More importantly, on April 6, it looks like an effort was made to avoid a strike before the strike deadline but the Mayor opposed it. It gives you an idea of his attitude. PLUS there was hardly a strong anti-CUPE feeling at this time it seems and a desire to work out a compromise.

On the strike day itself, the City started caving in. The question to be asked and then needs answering is why this was not done early on. Moreover, the City backed off no PRBs for new hires:

What did Edgar say about job guarantees subsequently:

  • "A new issue popped up and that is the union looking for guaranteed job security for its members," Francis said. "That's something that -- given the uncertainty of today -- the city cannot guarantee."
Here is what the City was offering on April 20, a long way from "Net Zero" but still no wages increase:

Where were all of the pro-CUPE friends on Council when no wages increase was offered:

Hmm, hadn't WUC settled just before this and they got a wage increase. Windsor Utilities Commission workers received a 7.5 per cent wage increase over four years.

  • "On April 24, a week after the start of the strike, Lewenza moved another motion, this time seeking to reverse that earlier position and seeking to “remove the issue of ending post-retirement benefits … for new employees” as part of the city’s bargaining position.

    That motion, seconded by Coun. Ron Jones and also supported by councillors Caroline Postma, Percy Hatfield and Bill Marra, failed only after Mayor Eddie Francis broke a tie vote, siding with councillors Halberstadt, Dave Brister, Jo-Anne Gignac, Fulvio Valentinis and Drew Dilkens. "

I think Lewenza was right even if he was not a lawyer. As I read the City's By-law, there is a good argument to be made that there was no legal right to even discuss PRBs either on the Union's or City's part!

It is a shame though that the Star neglected to mention paragraph (b) which would have avoided a strike and would have allowed a negotiated resolution once the facts were well known as Councillor Halberstadt mentions re the negotiations with the garbage workers and also as I Blogged before about what happened at the Windsor Public Library.

Twice now that Eddie voted "on the record' supporting a strike in effect.

Yet a few days later, Council in effect supported the Committee concept:

With respect to the April 24 Motion, the Star quoted Francis saying:

  • "Ken Lewenza is absolutely right … had I decided to cave and ignore the wishes of the residents of Windsor,” said Francis. “But you don’t go into a strike saying this is your core issue and then cave after a week,”

CBC quoted him saying:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis broke a tie by voting against Lewenza's motion. On Monday night, Francis acknowledged he could have ended the strike by voting the other way.

    "But it would have been counter to the position the city took," he said."

HUH...That is another Edgarism. That is the point of voting on a Motion. To be flexible to be able to change. If Edgar's argument is right, then there could never be settlement because every vote was counter to the City's previous postion.

  • "Lewenza argued that revealing how councillors voted on various positions taken during the bitter strike would show how opportunities were missed early on in the process."

Lewenza is right!

Wage increases were finally discussed a month after the Strike started:

And on May 19, this startling resolution

That was the day when Mediation started again. It makes a mockery of what Edgar said doesn't it.

On June 17, an exchange of Motions that ultimately led to the Big Leak and more breakdowns in negotiations, this time, right after the Red Bull Races

Edgar again voted NO on the first Motion. Ultimately it did not matter since the Big Leak resulted in the breakdown of negotiations. By the way, the internal report and Integrity Commissioner Reports on the source of the leak are still not out. It is almost like the 400 Audit----never to be disclosed but then again, it diverts attention.

One more Minute of interest that dealt with the Back to Work Protocol. Council specifically said

So why then did Edgar provide one without Council approval, that led to a near-riot, that tried to screw Marra and that put off voting for another week! And then the CAO after the low point in his career received a nice chunk of change a little later.

Interesting I think so far and a precursor perhaps of what is to come. And that is the fear isn't it!

Poor Junior! His name will be mud if he does not get his story out soon. And then no one will read what he says or care either. Some people might not be too upset if that was the result.


It will be so easy to discredit Junior now:

  • "Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. announced Tuesday night he will "absolutely" seek re-election to Windsor city council in 2010...

    His announcement to run again comes on the heels of his much-publicized motion Monday night to make public secret information dealing with Windsor's lengthy municipal strike.

    Lewenza insists the timing is coincidental.

    "It's got to do with clarifying the record long before [an election]... comes," he said."