Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

$30M CUPE Back Wages Claim On A Silver Platter

And perhaps punitive damages too!

I warned people about the possibility and now it is becoming more and more certain as facts come out.

Imagine if you are a City Hall hardliner. No one yet has dared come forward to deny what Ken Lewenza and Bill Marra said at their Ward 4 meeting. In effect we learned two important things, three if you include the Star's role:
  • 1) The hardliner deal they agreed to was worse at the end than that which could have been achieved initially and cost the taxpayers too much money
  • 2) The City Negotiating team's hands were tied until June 17 when Helga intervened and the file was micromanaged by Council until then.

In effect, Councillors Lewenza and Marra confirmed what Councillor Postma had already written in her BLOG but with much more detail.

And then it got worse with the comments made by Councillor Marra involving the leak:

  • "Coun. Bill Marra, who filed the complaint with Basse that triggered the investigation, said that at the very least it will serve as a deterrent.

    “This leak contributed to extending the strike to about four weeks. It’s shameful that happened.”

    Marra believes a politician was the source of the leak.

    “This (investigation) should send a strong message this kind of conduct will not be tolerated,” he said.

    CUPE Local 543 president Jean Fox said Tuesday it’s important to identify the source, noting the issue remains part of a formal bad faith bargaining complaint by the union to the Ontario Labour Relations Board."

If it was a politician, and if it can be proven that it was leaked to prevent the possibility of a settlement (Remember, at the end, it took about a week to do the deal), then it can be argued that it was done deliberately to punish workers. That type of behaviour and action is worthy of censure and could give rise to a punitive damages claim in a Court action when everything is looked at in total.

So let us look at the calendar. From the April strike start date to June 17, the City, it can be argued, was not bargaining in good faith. Add in another month because of the leak and a week because of the near riot. We are pretty close to the actual strike end date!

What a horrific mess for taxpayers: inconvenienced for 15 weeks, a very costly deal and now a good case to be made to pay back $30M in back wages and perhaps more in punitive damages to the CUPE workers.

I would strongly suggest that the CUPE leadership both locally and in their Ontario/National HQs get off their asses and pursue the claim with vigour with a major London/Toronto law firm that believes in the case. Otherwise, I would suggest that individual CUPE members who might lose out on money to which they might be entitled might have an additional target to go after to get their money back.

If only I was still doing litigation...