Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, June 05, 2009

More CUPE/CITY Strike Thoughts

Here are some things I have been thinking about

AFI INTERNATIONAL GROUP INVOLVEMENT

I hear that Council found out last Monday that this firm has been hired for security. I wonder what their bills are so far. I wonder how much of the cost for post retirement benefits could have been used by their fees.

One of their claims to fame is:
  • "Since 1986, AFI has assisted more than 1,000 image-conscious clients — of all sizes and in every industry, including many Fortune 500 corporations — plan for and execute business continuity strategies. Our efforts have helped these companies overcome the negative impacts experienced by their business by employee-related disputes.

    Our experience and unparalleled expertise in this field allow us to provide our clients with the most comprehensive suite of services available."

Wouldn't it be interesting to know WHEN they were first hired, WHAT they were asked to do and HOW MUCH of our "savings" will be consumed by them!




Is that an AFI employee sitting in a City of Windsor "enforcement" vehicle? If so why?


An AFI employee and more Windsor vehicles?


Why couldn't a local firm supply security guards? Were these people brought in from hundreds of kilometres away? Isn't AFI's HQ in Milton....outside of Windsor?

Nice endorsement by the Windsor Police Dept on AFI's website. Does the City always give such endorsement to all providers?

STAIRWELL POSSIBLE SETTLEMENT RUMOUR

Did it happen or not? My sources tell me that is why the City and CUPE went back to negotiating. There was a real basis for a settlement of the strike I am told as well.

If it did and one side reneged, shouldn't the public know about it.

It seems to have happened:

  • "While some of the recent council meetings have been closely monitored by CUPE strikers and their leaders, with at least one such gathering sparking an informal meeting in a back hallway that led to a short-lived round of talks, Francis said they aren’t essential to reopen talks.”

Why doesn't the Star find out what was discussed?

Oh by the way, when did the Councillors hear about it?

WHO IS THE BEST PICTURE TAKER IN ADMINISTRATION

Which senior manager in Administration rushed to the Mayor's house to take picures of CUPE members?

Did that person talk to employees and what was said?

How did that manager know to be there? Who called the person to come? Was the person called before or after the police and the media?

BARGAINING IN GOOD FAITH

If Councillor Postma is correct about how the City's negotiating team has been handled and apparently, she "stand[s] by everything I have said throughout this strike." then is this the basis of CUPE filing a complaint against the City with the Labour Board? I hope that CUPE gets an opinion from their lawyers.

STRIKE PAY

Just curious, how many managers are getting 5 figure salaries for working for 2 weeks while the strike is on? I won't give you the amounts that I have been told a couple of mangers received because the amounts are so shockingly high that I cannot believe them!

There goes my tax rebate!

HOW "TO GIVE KIDS THEIR SUMMER"

I guess that one way is to threaten to hire replacement workers.

Another novel way is to settle the strike

Hmmm. I wonder how much this cost and are the lawyers 4-500KMs away:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said he’s exploring options to address the loss of public parks, pools, programming and other recreational opportunities for Windsor’s children and youth.

    The mayor says he was seeking legal advice Thursday on the city’s options. He would not go into detail about the legal issues involved."

COUNCILLOR LEWENZA'S MEETING

It looks from what the Councillor claims that the amounts involved for PRBs are miniscule. So why aren't there discussions going on to bridge the gap?

I know, I know....the CAW will come in and save the day as facilitator.

Are we being set up now by Junior so that when the CAW helps arrive at a solution the taxpayers will not be too upset? I sure liked the scare headline:

  • "Lewenza Jr. warns against replacements"

A silly question. Before Junior opened his mouth, why didn't he call his good buddy, the Mayor:

  • "Today, Mayor Francis indicated that he would consider — and again I’m only taking this from what I heard from the media outlets — that he would consider replacement workers,”

Such drama, such theatre! Such BS!!

IF THE POLL DON'T FIT

  • "It's a two-to-one response in favour of arbitration -- I think that's incredible," said CUPE Local 543 president Jean Fox, who represents inside workers.

    Of 258 Windsor residents surveyed, 65.6 per cent agreed that an "independent, neutral arbitrator" should be brought in to decide all outstanding issues.

    Fox said CUPE national was asked to commission the poll, which was conducted by phone Tuesday night by Winnipeg-based Viewpoints Research Ltd.

    Twenty-nine per cent disagreed and 5.4 per cent said they didn't know or refused to answer. Survey authors said the results have a margin of error of 6.1 per cent.

    Mayor Eddie Francis discounted the poll results, saying his office has been "flooded by calls" urging the city to hold the line.'

OHHHHHHHH, now we know why DRIC ignored the postcards about Greenlink. The City only received a 9% response rate in favour. If the Mayor can reject a poll saying that 60% or so want arbitration, then DRIC can reject a 9% result.

OLD MacFRANCIS HAD A FARM E-I-E-I-O

  • "Council has been very clear -- we're not prepared to give away the farm,"

But it is no so bad if strikers' homes are foreclosed!

Can you picture Eddie as a farmer. The thought just boggles my mind





Eddie MacFrancis had a Council, E-I-E-I-O
And on his Council he had 10 Councillors, E-I-E-I-O
With a "no sir" here and a "no sir" there
Here a "no" there a "no"
Everywhere a "no sir to arbitration"
Eddie MacFrancis had a Council, E-I-E-I-O

10 GLASSES STORY

If your group ever has the chance to have the Mayor speak to it or perhaps John Fairley can do it on Face-To-Face, ask him to perform his 10 water glasses trick. He will tell you how he has to deal with his 10 "mini-Mayors" on Council.

He asks on which end of the poltiical spectrum each Councillor fits and moves a glass accordingly.

The funny part comes when he will tell you where he places Councillor Dilkens. That should raise a chuckle. But it is what he does with the glass when he talks about Councillor Marra and gives his explantion that will cause the huge outburst of laughter!

Such respect for his colleagues.




"Feds Say Bridge Treated Fairly"

Oh it is sooooo good to do a border BLOG again.

I was getting tired about writing about irrational actions like the City/CUPE strike. It is so much easier to go back to writing about irrational actions in the border file.

Like the letter talked about in the Star article the other day.

DUH!!! What did you want the letter from Canadian Ambassador Michael Wilson to say:
  • "Feds say Bridge Company Screwed By Canada!"

Oooops. Transport Canada Minister John Baird and spokesperson Mark Butler had already said that a few weeks ago. I guess that His Excellency, the Ambassador, was called in for damage control to pretend so that the truth will not spread any further. It's easier to repeat the make-believe remarks told to the Canadian Senate about how important the Ambassador Bridge is while taking away all of its business!

  • "Canadian federal authorities remain adamantly opposed to Moroun.

    "We believe that the new crossing should be subject to public oversight, and that would mean, in effect, a publicly owned bridge," said Mark Butler, a spokesman for the federal agency Transport Canada, on Thursday."

  • "Federal Transportation minister John Baird said Wednesday his government is committed to building a downriver bridge in Windsor and dismissed the Ambassador Bridge's twin span proposal."

  • "He [Baird] also left no doubt about how he viewed the Ambassador Bridge's twin span proposal.

    "I don't think it works for the community's best interests or environmentally," he told reporters."

Fairness eh. Transport Canada is the judge, jury and executioner on the Enhancement Project file and a competitor too for the new bridge. Why it is almost as fair as the Windsor Mayor/Head of the Tunnel Commission deciding whether the Bridge Company can tear down their homes on Indian Road while trying to get a big price from the Feds for its Brighton Beach lands where the DRIC plaza is to be built.

It is no wonder that Canada can say with all honesty:

  • "In Canada, the bridge company does not have any of the approvals necessary to proceed with construction," Wilson said."

Why is the Canadian Ambassador to the US still around in his job to be direct? And to be writing letters to American politicians too. Is that proper protocol not to go through the US State Department? Imagine if that happened in Canada. Hasn't PM Harper heard yet about the consequences of NAFTA-GATE? I can hardly wait for another international incident to ruin our relationship with the US even further.

To me, this letter tells me that the border war is just about over. I hope. Canada's position now is so weak vis-a-vis the Bridge Company that the only hope that Canada has is for the Americans to kill their project and allow DRIC to move forward. Or at least delay it for several years so that traffic might grow again and so that there might be some P3 money around.

Remember, the DRIC Bridge lie of being finished by 2013. Now we know that 2013 was merely a target date. Who knows when it really will be built. Terrific, jeopardizing our economies!

Rubbish! How could the Ambassador dare write what he did after the DRIC rep completely undercut him. I assume that His Most Royal Canadian Excellence did not receive the memo or watch the EH-Channel interview when he wrote:
  • "The Canadian government has assured Michigan lawmakers that Canada is committed to building another border crossing as quickly as possible."

Sorry, I am wrong. For Canada, delays are normal in this file since they have been so wrong with everything. For the Bridge Company, once they get their permits, their bridge will be up in around 30 months!

The reasons for all of the orchestrated anti-Moroun actions that hit the headlines in the Detroit media are obvious and make sense. Demonize Moroun so that no Michigan politician would dare support him as I speculated before.

Too bad that this tactic did not work. It would have been so much easier to negotiate a deal with Moroun 7 years ago. And a heck lot less expensive for taxpayers and less stressful on Windsorites. Clearly, that was never done because Canada is afraid to deal with the Bridge Company openly and honestly since apparently they are such shrewd negotiators. Transport Canada only knows how to deal with airlines and railways that they can bully or bridges whose Boards they appoint!

Seriously, step back a bit. Do you really want the same people running our border that the Auditor General slammed? The Federal Bridge Corporation Limited does report to the Transport Canada Minister after all and he must take full responsibility for the mess there. Wasn't it one of the companies that the Feds want to get rid of!

Wouldn't it be a hoot if the Bridge Company made an offer for it!

I am not going to deal with everything in the Star article but just the lowlights.

Here is the funniest part of the entire letter. It is so absurd that Jay Leno's ex-staff writers must have penned it while they are looking for new jobs:
  • "The bridge also failed to develop a master plan for the Canadian plaza over the last 18 months even though Canada Customs offered to hire an engineering consultant to help -- "an extraordinary measure" never before taken by the Canadian government, Wilson said."

Yes the Bridge Company is that stupid to have a Government-hired engineer design their plaza and thereby require a several year extension of the EA process. Talk about a bad faith offer!

But here is why it is so ridiculous. Other Government hired engineers (this time in the US) designed the Blue Water Bridge plaza that now requires a half billion dollar improvement because it did not work properly. The quasi-Governmental Peace Bridge people want to destroy a chunk of Buffalo for a new plaza there. The Americans spent a quarter of a billion on the Ambassador Gateway project and now want another one built a mere mile away!

Are they all mad?

Here is a knee-slapper if you happen to live in Delray, Michigan or if you are one to whom Environmental Justice applies:
  • "The Canadian government believes the DRIC crossing proposed for the Brighton Beach industrial area provides the best approach to "addressing our two countries' long-term cross-border security, mobility and trade requirements, while protecting local communities from significant negative impacts," he said in the letter."

Oh Michael, you ought to be on CBC's "Just For Laughs" with lines like that or on the Comedy Network on cable.

As for environmental impacts, since the Bridge Company's bridge does not add capacity but allows for the smoother flow of traffic, how can there be any negative changes? We are told anyway that most of Windsor's pollution comes from out of town. The traffic that the DRIC Bridge is supposed to handle is much higher if the DRIC numbers are to be believed and yet there are no environmental issues with it. The logic that His Excellency is using escapes me.

Respecting the P3. That concept is dead meat. I am not going to repeat what I have written about the MDOT Australians, Macquarie, not being able to find the cash for the Port Mann Bridge or the BC Government being able to bring it in a year earlier at a cost of about a billion dollars less. All I will tell you to do is to read the articles in the Sister newspaper of the Windsor Star, the Vancouver Sun, and read all of the things that the Star has refused to let Windsorites know about.

I have had enough about the letter already. And I have not even talked about the phony 120 acres of the DRIC designed Plaza that was to wipe put Sandwich, the reason why the Ambassador Bridge project seemingly cannot be approved.

Oh my goodness. Now I know which engineer Canada so generously wants to hire to help destroy errr assist the Bridge Company design a master plan for the Canadian Plaza.

Except I think it may be Tranpsort Canada's Master Plan that is being carried out behind the scenes.

HAVE YOU GOT YOUR LAWNSIGN YET?

CITIZENS FOR JOBS NOW!


You can get one by going here:

Thursday, June 04, 2009

We Need A RINC-Y Dinc Affair In Windsor

There is so much money for sports around, we ought to get our fair share. Time to THINK BIG. Time to THINK BIG INTERNATIONALLY

We ought to try and tap into the Federal/Provincial RINC program.

Oh I know we are probably not eligible for anything but who cares. If Jeff Watson can say that the canal project was virtually guaranteed to get funding even if it was not close to being shovel ready, then the rules can be bent or other program monies found. Sheeeesh, it's that easy!
  • "Through the Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC) Program in Ontario, the governments of Canada and Ontario have committed to supporting upgrades to community recreation facilities over the next two years.

    The RInC Program in Ontario will provide a timely, targeted stimulus to the Ontario economy through investments that will spur construction activity related to existing recreational infrastructure."

Remember that there was talk at one time about a joint Detroit/Windsor submission for the Olympic Games. Even if we wanted to do it, with the problems in the auto industry, an Olympics committee would be hard pressed to find sponsors these days. Eddie talked about a CFL team at one time too. Project Ice Track wanted an AHL franchise here. Those projects cannot be done.

Mind you, Windsor is a big player on the world sports stage after all. The Spits won the Memorial Cup with our new "downtown" East end arena. Red Bull Air Races are putting our name on the world stage again. Remember this statement by our Mayor:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis announced in early February that Windsor was joining London's efforts to hold the [2012 World Junior Hockey Championships] tournament, competing with bids from such cities as Toronto, Edmonton-Calgary, Winnipeg and Halifax.

    "Our track record speaks for itself to host these events," said Francis at the time. "From the Super Bowl, to Wrestlemania, to the Grand Prix."

Sure, people thought Detroit ran those events. Little did they know!

Our loss of the hockey championship for 2012 bothered me. What could we do in that year to make a big splash? I got it!

I happened to read a story about the International Children’s Games.

  • "The International Children's Games or ICG as it is commonly referred to is an International Olympic Committee-sanctioned event held every year where children from cities around the world and between the ages of 12 and 15 participate in a variety of sports."

I noticed that the 45th Games are to be held in Scotland in 2011 and that there was nothing mentioned after that as a location. Could it be that Windsor lucked out? Were they looking for a City to host the Games in 2012?

Why not Windsor!!!

Wow, is Eddie ever lucky that I read that story. Co-incidentally the Games are being held on 23 – 28 June 2009 in Athens, Greece.

I know it is short notice and it is a tough time for us but by 2012 we ought to be just fine. I hereby DEMAND that the Mayor go to Athens right away to get there when the Games open and win them for Windsor for 2012! Who cares what the costs are. It will put us on the world map again. It is NOT a mere Rinc-y Dinc deal.

It will be hard work so the Mayor needs help. He needs to take one of his assistants with him too! Someone has to carry the briefcase of our globe-trotting Mayor

As long as they leave from YQG, it is a win for us all!

I hope my new CUPE friends do not get mad at me for suggesting that the Mayor go overseas while they are on strike. After all, the Mayor was supposed to go to Whistler as an example and he stayed behind:

  • "but the Red Bull Air Race “and everything else” forced him to remain at home. "

I am afraid that the Mayor is unable to use the "S" word anymore. Out of sight, out of mind? The almost 2,000 people picketing for almost 2 months are lumped under "everything else" now. See how much he cares for you!

So he sent Councillor Hatfield in his place. I am sure that the Councillor is so happy that the Mayor thought so well of him. I wonder if the Mayor would have carried a grudge if Percy had voted for binding arbitration. Unfortunately, we will never know since the Councillor did not support it.

Oh and the slap of Councillor Marra being "on a vacation trip" was a cheap shot by the Star against Eddie's biggest mayoral rival. The Star is well aware of the reason why Bill is away or ought to be!

After all folks, who cares if the CUPE people are still out after all of this time:

  • "Yes, there is a strike, yes, it’s unfortunate … (but) people are still working, people are still conducting the business of the city,” said Mayor Eddie Francis, adding it was “absolutely” a good thing that Windsor is represented in Whistler...

    “The lines of communication are always open — you don’t need a scheduled council meeting,” he said."

Why just like the Mayor informed us

  • "having local civic leaders leave Windsor during a nasty municipal strike to attend a conference dealing with municipal issues is no different than local CUPE leaders leaving Windsor last week to attend a CUPE conference in Toronto..."

I guess going to Toronto to raise several hundred thousand dollars for strikers who need the money is the equivalent in the Mayor's mind of "a party “you will never forget.”

One other thought. I wonder if George Sofos of the Junction is available too. He is Greek. Perhaps he could show Eddie around Athens!

Blame Postma



Silly me.

I should have understood. Nothing bad can ever be the fault of our Mayor. There always has to be someone else who will fall on the sword for him. Or be pushed.

I know I should not repost this but Eddie's comment so infuriated me that I had to remind you of it:
  • "Hearing that Ryan had told reporters at the CUPE news conference that the union had heard "on fairly good authority it was actually 6-4," Francis blasted those on the city side he claims are feeding false information to the strikers. He blamed the protracted labour dispute in part on the "overreliance placed (by CUPE) on what they've heard from a member of council."

    As with Ryan the night before, Francis urged an end to "third-parties injecting themselves into the negotiations" on the part of both sides."

Those strikers who picketed the Mayor's home made a huge mistake. Instead, they should have been at Councillor Mom's house terrorizing her family. That's because in part the protracted labour dispute is her fault. Just ask the Mayor.

Those strikers and members of the public who read Caroline's BLOG and relied on it made a huge mistake. Instead, they should be kept in the dark with media blackouts unless Eddie speaks of course. That's because in part the protracted labour dispute is her fault. Just ask the Mayor.

Those people who believe that arbitration is now the only solution even though the Motion Caroline seconded was lost made a huge mistake. Instead, they should swallow that negotiations are the only solution so that the City negotiators can negotiate with themselves. That's because in part the protracted labour dispute is her fault. Just ask the Mayor.

Don't you find this odd though. Eddie wants all third parties to stay out of what is going on yet when there is a problem he has to find someone else to take the hit.

Oh I completely understand that "part" of the problem is the Councillor. I just wonder which part we can blame on the Mayor!

Windsor Needs An Energy Drink

I hope Windsor business people do not get mad at me but I have received nothing from anyone about what we on our side are doing for the Air races. I figured I may as well show them what their Detroit competition is doing because it is very attractive!

I received the following press release since the hotel PR person obviously recognized the wide reach this BLOGsite has on both sides of the river. I am kidding, relax!

It should be a wake-up call to us. Remember last time around, Detroit sold-out long before we did and we had tickets remaining. If it was not for the American media telling people there was space left here, it would have been an embarrassment for us

I wonder what our business people are doing to get people spending over here. I hope the Red Bull site is not sending them to Niagara Falls still for our attractions!


  • HIGH-FLYING DISCOUNT PACKAGES AT THE
    DETROIT MARRIOTT AT THE RENAISSANCE CENTER FOR
    WINDSOR RED BULL AIR RACE, JUNE 12-14, 2009


    Best view on the waterfront, great room rates and a BBQ buffet!

    DETROIT, MI, May 21, 2009 —You don’t have to leave the country to experience all the excitement of the 2009 Windsor Ontario Red Bull Air Race. Great waterfront viewing, a delicious BBQ party and discounted room rates are waiting for race fans at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, located trackside on the Detroit River! A variety of packages are now available, many of them offering access to Marriott’s Air Race viewing area from the outdoor terrace of forty-two degrees north, the Detroit Marriott’s chic new restaurant. Packages start at just $50.

    Detroit Marriott Red Bull Air Race Packages

     Friday Night Package (June 12) – Deluxe guest room on Friday evening (June 12), access to Marriott’s Air Race viewing area and BBQ buffet at forty-two degrees north on Saturday (June 13),and cash bar. Prices: $149 for one person; $199 for two people; $50 for each additional person.

     Saturday Night Package (June 13) – Deluxe guest room on Saturday evening (June 13), access to Marriott’s Air Race viewing area and BBQ buffet at forty-two degrees north on Sunday (June 14),and cash bar. Prices: $149 for one person; $199 for two people; $50 for each additional person.

     Air Race BBQ & Viewing Ticket (June 13-14) – Access to Marriott’s Air Race viewing area and BBQ buffet at forty-two degrees north on Saturday (June 13) or Sunday (June 14), and cash bar. Price: $50 per person. Must call 313-568-8030 or email lakisha.lanier@marriott.com to make a reservation.

     Deluxe Guest Room Only (June 12–13) – Deluxe guest room on Friday (June 12) or Saturday (June 13) evening (no viewing tickets or BBQ). Price: $139 for double occupancy.

    To book a Red Bull Air Race Package at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, please call 1-800-352-0831 or visit www.detroitmarriott.com and reference promotion code THM.

By the way, here is part of how Windsor is described on Red Bull's site. A good fisking is in order but I will not do it completely because it would make me cry.

Yes my fisking is very negative. Why lie to ourselves what this City has become over the last few years. You know the reasons as well as I do.

Actually, what it sets out is what this City should be. It provides a good blue-print for the future that is easily achievable if people work together.

We need a leader who will bring us back to our greatness that our local politicians have squandered, who will inspire us and whom we can trust. I just hope that we can find that someone and soon!

You fill in the blanks as appropriate:

  • "Windsor is known for its multicultural diversity and a healthy environment, [talk about the Mayor and Greenlink and children's diseases] where residents share a strong sense of belonging and a collective pride of place. A great quality of life is reflected in beautiful and safe neighbourhoods, [contrast the smell of garbage and roses] vibrant cultural districts, over 3,000 acres of open green space, 215 parks, [grass growing and pieces of chain link fences would be interesting to discuss here] and unprecedented access to exceptional health care and education [underserviced area medically, low-rankings and illiteracy would go well here].

    Windsor enjoys a remarkably low cost of living. Few Canadian cities can make a high standard of living as affordable as it is in Windsor. [Let's thank unemployment, foreclosures and high vacancy rates] The arts thrive throughout Windsor at a number of theatres and galleries both large and small. [Capitol thought!] Top-notch performing arts can be enjoyed at various independent theatres, at the University of Windsor, and at Caesars Windsor’s 5,000 seat Colosseum. [Our East End "Downtown" arena perhaps] Athletes and spectators alike can enjoy top-notch facilities for every major sport in the city, as well as quick access to storied franchises in every major professional sport in neighbouring Detroit. [Tunnel buses and being stuck would make for a great ending]

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Caroline Postma's Political Career Is Over

Or will she become what she used to be, the People's Choice? It is really up to her now.

I knew Councillor Mom extremely well. In her first successful run for Council, she and I used to talk a lot about the campaign. In fact, I probably helped save her political life after she made a huge gaffe that she thought would cost her signifcant support in Ward 2. It did not since she heeded my advice even against her own political judgment.

However, as often happens, she and I had a blowup several years ago about an issue that has cast a dark shadow over our relationship.

I expect that my views of her have been coloured by that experience but I thought I saw a big change in her. She was losing the spark that I saw in her when she was first elected. She just did not have the drive that she had. It was almost as if she had given up. She was becoming the politician that she despised the most and probably knew it but could never admit it to herself.

She is humoured by her Council colleagues. Tolerated. Not taken seriously to be blunt about it. She is a West Ender after all. In doing so, her Council mates are completely underestimating her. She is probably smarter than most, a quick learn and an able politician who has the ability to relate to her constituents. That is called electability.

She has tried hard, too hard in my opinion, to be accepted by the Mayor and other Councillors. In doing so, she has lost her way. She has become a person who allowed herself to be manipulated so that she can remain a Team Player.

I have to admit that I have not taken her seriously politicially for some time. Without going into it at this time, her latest effort to have the homes torn down on Indian Road I found laughable and completely unbelievable. While she appeared to want to find a solution as everyone's friend, she was making enemies of everyone and fooling no one.

Her "The grass ain't going to cut it" remark was a clear indication to me that she was being used as a political pawn in a much bigger game that she probably did not understand. She was viewing it as a Ward 2 matter, which it clearly is not.

So imagine my surprise when she wrote her BLOG "ENOUGH ALREADY." http://myward2.blogspot.com/

In it, she effectively undercut completely the Mayor and the City's position on negotiations. She basically demonstrated that only arbitration can be the way to arrive at a resolution.
  • "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."

That is a damning indictment of the Mayor and Council that explains to me why the Mayor is so afraid of Arbitration. The City would lose again. Badly. And Eddie would be blamed, the finger pointed right at him!

What will CUPE's lawyers do with this bombshell. They better do something fast because damage control has started already.

I must admit that I did not know whether to take her remarks seriously or not. Was this another political game by her so that the strikers would support her even though she did not mean it? After all, about a week or so ago she opposed, as did all of her colleagues, "the concept of binding arbitration."

Then she turned around completely and seconded this Motion a few days later:

  • "seconded by Councillor Postma

    THAT the City agree to proceed to interest arbitration pursuant to section 40 of the Ontario Labour Relations Act with respect to the current labour situation with CUPE Locals 82 and 543, with the issues to be referred to have definedparameters and to be agreed upon by the parties.

    Councillors Jones, Postma, and Lewenza voting aye."

What caused that transformation. Had she really had enough of the BS? I was surprised by that move but was still suspicious.

Until this morning's Star. I read this remark by the head of the City's negotiating team:

  • "We cannot negotiate with ourselves ... there has to be a willingness for movement," said Windsor corporate services general manager Helga Reidel, who heads the city's negotiating team and who was present at Tuesday's meeting."

What an interesting choice of language. A deliberate, subliminal message by a frustrated Senior Bureaucrat to the Public meant to demonstrate that Caroline was correct?

Then this remark by the Mayor which clinched it for me. The political destruction of Councillor Mom had commenced. She should expect more brutality down the road as I warned her after she wrote one of her BLOGs. She was going to become a Blind Mouse after daring to defy Mayoral unity:

  • "Hearing that Ryan had told reporters at the CUPE news conference that the union had heard "on fairly good authority it was actually 6-4," Francis blasted those on the city side he claims are feeding false information to the strikers. He blamed the protracted labour dispute in part on the "overreliance placed (by CUPE) on what they've heard from a member of council."

    As with Ryan the night before, Francis urged an end to "third-parties injecting themselves into the negotiations" on the part of both sides."
That is right. Stay out Caroline! Shut your mouth! Do not perform your legal responsibilities. Let Eddie run this strike the way he wants to do so for his reasons! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

That is the wrong way to deal with Caroline. It gets her back up when she feels she is trapped in a corner like that. I would expect her now to become more public, not less.


It is funny, Eddie's slam has given her more credibility than if he had ignored her. He has verified the truth of what she has said. She has told the world what is really going on in Windsor with this strike. Is this why CUPE members are suffering personally and financially.

Caroline made a deliberate choice when she wrote her BLOG. Was she tired or afraid of the Councillor she was becoming? Did she want to become that Councillor that she was when she was first elected who was not afraid to stir up City Hall and the media? Did she finally remember who she was supposed to please and it was not her Council colleagues? Is she now true to herself again!

Does she have the guts to go public on other matters that trouble residents? I hope so for her sake politically. No one would dare touch her. She need not be afraid of the Star. She need only look to Councillor Halberstadt to understand that opposition to City Hall can do wonders for one's political career. I can hardly wait to see her Youtube video!

Tells us more Councillor. You owe it to yourself. AND TO US.

Just to remind her. She is always welcome in the phone booth! She has the number.

Tons Of New Stories

Fast and furious, the media is publishing stories that absolutely need to be told

WHO NEEDED LUFTHANSA

It looks like London is way ahead of us in the airline hub game. But more importantly, here are the kind of costs that we in Windsor will be stuck payignng if we dare compete against Aerotroplis in Detroit and London, especially if the concept does not fly:
  • "Airport freight centre plan wins backing

    Build it and they will come.

    An air-freight transportation centre at London International Airport would help diversify London's economy and attract much-needed new industry, say London business leaders who cheered city council's support for the strategy.

    "This could be a signature project," said Gerry Macartney, general manager of the London Chamber of Commerce.

    "It is strategically very important, giving us a position in the world market we presently do not have. If we want to be in the global market these are the things we must do."

    The idea is to use federal and provincial stimulus money to build the logistics centre at the airport...

    The airport also has a cold storage facility nearby -- Liberty Freezers on Sovereign Road -- and trucking firms that can tie into the facility so food products can be refrigerated and shipped.

    The development would cost $21 million. Two-thirds would be paid by provincial and federal stimulus money and the city would provide $7 million.

    Council has asked for a more detailed report on the proposal by month's end.

    White recently visited the Netherlands -- an international centre for moving freight -- to gauge interest from businesses on establishing transportation logistics businesses at London's airport. White was told there is interest, but the centre would have to be built for London to be taken seriously...

    That means goods could be shipped from London to Europe, establishing London as an air logistics centre nationally."

Oooooooooops, there goes the exporting of onions business.

By the way, whatever happend to our German friends Michael and Thomas. I went to their website, http://freshline.aero/ Not much seems to have happened with them for years!

WHY THE CITY OPPOSES ARBITRATION

  • "Citing six arbitrated decisions involving municipal contracts going back to 1957, Francis said the city has not fared well. The most recent was last summer when an arbitrator gave 30 full-time equivalent city employees at Huron Lodge, all members of the Ontario Nurses Association, retroactive wage increases of between three and 9.3 per cent. The arbitrator also rejected the city’s attempt to end post-retirement benefits for new hires at Huron Lodge."

Doesn't this say more about how the City treats its employees in negotiations than about how Arbitrators make decisions! It looks like Management constantly loses.

Here is more childishness:

  • "Both sides have said they’re willing to get back to the bargaining table, but neither seems willing to initiate such a move. CUPE’s leaders today said the city walked out on the last unsuccessful round of talks so that it’s up to the corporation to make the next move."

IS THERE MONEY IN WINDSOR

We must have oodles of it somewhere if we are going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on it in infrastructure regardless of what the Senior Levels do. If that is so

  • Why aren't we paying down our huge post-retirement fund liabilities that S&P is so concerned about or is that the real reason we have a strike
  • Why haven't the Tunnel Plaza Improvements started where our share is only $10M
  • Why didn't Eddie do the Tunnel deal for only $75M. He could have flipped it by now
  • Why aren't we building the College bridge already
  • Why did we have to borrow from the bank to fund the WFCU costs
  • Why can't we support the Arts, such as the cost for converting the Armouries for the WSO.

Feel free to add to the list.

NO ARTIFICIAL TURF IN ROUGE RIVER

Imagine the cost---$600 for all of it compared with $81 square yard in Windsor

  • MELVINDALE — Grass along the Rouge River near the ice arena is going be torn out for the health of the river.

    City officials recently accepted a $600 “Grow Zone” grant from The Alliance of Rouge Communities for seeds of native plants and wildflowers that will be part of a “no mow” area.

    Eric Witte, Department of Public Works director, said that this summer the DPW will remove the grass from the boat dock to the edge of the arena and put down the seeds...

    “In the long run, it saves us money and it’s good for the environment,” Councilman Jeffrey Bolton said.

    The city will incur the initial cost of tilling and seeding the area, but thereafter is expected to save money from reduced grass cutting and other maintenance."

A NEW EXCUSE FOR NOT CUTTING WINDSOR'S GRASS

Come on now, be fair, the strike of outside workers is a good reason for our parks looking like shambles.

Here are the excuses of the past that we did not have to hear this time around:

  • "According to Councillor Valentinis, the reason why "Grass cutting at city parks [is] falling short" is "with global warming, grass appears to be growing earlier and faster every spring"
  • we are waiting for the University students to join the Parks Department before the grass would be cut
  • it a nature preserve so that the grass never needs cutting
  • a mild May followed by lots of rain and warm weather has sent vegetation growth at city parks out of control and staff are having trouble keeping up with it.

FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

More fantastic words of widsom from our Undevelopment Commission. When will the new head Wizard be hired:
  • How can a motor city survive? Find a new road

    May 16, 2009
    Jon Wells
    The Hamilton Spectator
    (May 16, 2009)
    Motor cities like Windsor and Oshawa have felt the crunch from the auto industry's decline, but development leaders vow that the future holds better days.

    Still, Windsor's business development man does not mince words when it comes to the auto crash impact on his city.

    "It has had tremendous impact. There's been a complete deterioration of the manufacturing base," said Patrick Persichilli, vice-president of the Windsor-Essex Development Commission.

    Windsor's unemployment recently hit 13.7 per cent, the highest in the country.

    "The silver lining in all of this is that it has forced our manufacturing base to rationalize where they want to be in the next five to 10 years."

    He said the future is about their manufacturing base finding new markets, beyond auto, such as construction machinery, medical technology, alternative energy sources, aerospace. He pointed to the success story of Valiant Machine and Tool, which was named Boeing's supplier of the year in the non-production category."

Yes as much of a silver lining as our house prices crashing as unemployed workers' homes are foreclosed so that people can move here and live cheaply!

WHY THE JAIL WAS NEVER GOING TO BRIGHTON BEACH

Hmmm no one seems concerned that CBSA officers will be working there and members of the public will be using the lands or that there might be better uses for the land:

  • "Councillor Hatfield states that at the municipal level, they were always under the understanding that a detention center would be built in Brighton Beach. Council was very surprised that the Province changed the location. He asks why the location was changed and why the proposed site was chosen.

    Mr. Woods states that through the site selection analysis, they considered the Brighton Beach area and for planning reasons, it was felt that the introduction of a sensitive land use into a heavy industrial neighbourhood would be more difficult to assess and mitigate through the Provincial guidelines. The other factor is the proposed new bridge to the USA that would take up a large part of the lands being considered. It was not clear whether there would be enough room to develop the facility at that location

    Mr. Handy states that most of the services exist but would have to be extended into the Brighton Beach site as well. He also adds that portions of the Brighton Beach site were under the Waterfront Port designation in the Official Plan and therefore those lands may be more valuable for other uses in the future.

EDDIE THOUGHT IT WAS HIS CANAL


Can you imagine the shouts of glee as Eddie read the headline. Unfortunately, the rest of the story was not as good.


Canada's Transport Minister officially opens Canal
Minister Baird highlights contribution of canal tourism to local economy


OTTAWA, May 15 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable John Baird, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, on behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today launched the 177th season of uninterrupted service on the Rideau Canal National Historic Site of Canada.

More BLOGMEISTER Letters



My daughter took that photograph. I liked it and so thought I would share it with you.

Here is what readers are saying:

1) [Windsor Star Border Journalism] You don't need a modifier for "journalism,' you need a word other than "journalism."

2)You could always suggest that a formal complaint be made to the Ont. Press Council...

3) i have been following your blogs for some time now and a big fan and would like to let you know i have sent various letters to the windsor star, our councillors and mayor and never seem to get a reply. i am a city of windsor inside worker. i would appreciate it if you can post something on behalf of the inside and outside workers.

It appears council’s true colors are coming out during the city of Windsor inside and outside workers strike.

Are all of you fearful to shoulder the serious decisions and responsibilities to disengage from the mayor perspective, and get the city workers back? If unfunded liability is your main priority; then we are all in agreement, you are willing to give up your own post-retirement benefits and executive compensation packages. Could it be that the prevailing attitude towards post-retirement benefits for new retirees is only a façade? Ultimately all permanent employees will lose their post retirement benefits.

How refreshing to know that our elected members (until Nov 2010) care more about appeasing Windsor’s mayor than the safety and lives of its citizens. How many more injuries and fatalities will be sustained? How many homes will be lost in bank foreclosure or marriage break downs due to financial hardship the city strike is causing? Are you sleeping well? It is a daunting reality that our current economy is in a recession, and this strike has exacerbated it.

Let me ask you how much funds have been allotted for Green Link? Canal plans, or the various committee’s, consultants, contingency plans, advertisements, private investigators, legal representation for opposing the widening of Manning and EC Row, fighting the new jail location, fighting the feds over the new boarder crossing and now the inside and outside city worker that new retirees are a liability. I implore you re-evaluate your position as councillor by supporting the most valuable members of this community your city workers.

4) The more they talk the worse it gets and the longer any new span will be tied up in court.

5) I find it strange that Rashida Tlaib selectively chooses which constituents she chooses to represent. I mean she was touting that she organized the "buy bait" for the bait shop, but hasn't protected the 40 businesses killed by DRIC.

6) Ed, power demands will triple by 2030,
Are you monitoring Hydro cash grab on our regular bills, including GST ?
Will the debt ever be repaid, or used to tax for new sources ????
Is anybody watching?

7) Any council member who is elected, and serves 3 terms (9 years total) gets post-retirement-benefits. Same with Eddie. Some food for thought, don't you think?

8) There are at least two councillors who get PRB now.

Council makes more money in their part time positions than most of the full time clerical staff and they also get benefits that part time staff members do not.

How’s that.

9) [Excerpts only provided to mask this employee's identity] I have to say, I was just directed to your blog, and was impressed with the homework of council meetings, motions, and the votes of council members. It was refreshing to see an individual actually research the facts, instead of believing the paper to be gospel...

Now, we're informed that Eddie Francis, administration and council wants to eliminate p-r-b for new hires. That would mean that ALL of the temporary employees with the city would be ineligible. And I'm not the only one who has been employed on a temporary status with [number] years of experience behind them. Council members are required to serve 3 terms (a mere 9 years) on council, and are granted p-b-r's...

I understand my story may not seem to be of any importance. However, I've worked hard for the city for a number of years. I have striven to be the best employee I can, even with the uncertainty of not having a permanent job, not being able to save, or purchase any big item, due to no security.

I'm sorry if I have babbled, but as you know or could assume, us "strikers" ARE suffering, we ARE stressed out, we ARE losing assets being homes and cars.
Thank you for allowing me to explain yet another side of the story. The temps. We are people, we are dedicated workers, we ARE on the line, and we're walking shoulder to shoulder with other temps, and permanent employees. WE are the people that everyone wants to hang out to dry.

10) Interesting reading your posts. What a huge tax grab the HST really is.

11) Bravo Ed - great read. I was waiting for you to mention the apologizes and excuses of Mr. Mayor through Gord's article. I literally could not believe what I was reading - an apology from his Royal Highness but you are right about him hiding behind Gord to do it. Still childish.

I don't get this project at all. I can picture this ditch being littered with garbage and entertaining pissing contests after the bars close. Downtown already has a beautiful water feature called the riverfront. The only thing downtown Windsor truly needs is a revitalization of an urban village. Something for everyone to enjoy, somewhere you can live affordably with markets and everything you could want in walking distance. The WAY DOWNTOWN WINDSOR USED TO BE. It just makes me sick to think of the lack of planning because today, everything is about the real estate flip. There is no great long term planning. Who owns the property and who will gain financially by it? I think the people of Windsor should be made aware of this first. Something is smelling really fishy to me.

12) Don' t forget Huron Lodge and all the repairs performed since it opened two years ago. Many of the repairs were performed on a time and materials.

13) It isn't so much this story or the "money left on the table" in
Windsor and as it appears every other community trying to spend
stimulus money or infrastructure money from the feds. Harper doesn't
want shovel ready programs he wants "splash" for the possible next
federal election! The canal project in Windsor would look great for
his campaign in this area!

Just a thought

14) Another survey taken by another person in town

15) Rejection is a terrible thing. I just want to come over and give you a big hug but you are probably still laughing your head off (as I was) while reading these incredibly stupid emails to your requests. Your perseverance amazes me. Keep at it Ed - I'm waiting for these responses too but surely will not hold my breath.

16) If I was a tourist dependant operator I think I would be a little upsetat our tourism board. For months now the Red Bull Expedia has been showing things to do in Windsor. It does not show any activities in Windsor it sends them to Niagara Falls.Was no one working with or taking care of these things at the tourism board?This could be very embarrassing for someone who was suppose to be wanting spin offs from the race.

17) [Eddie Francis Flu] That was very clever and too funny

18) My name in Alphabet Photography would look something like this:



Alphabet Photography is the brainchild of Jennifer Blakeley, a successful female entrepreneur who launched the business just two years ago.

The idea came to her after reading a children’s book entitled “Alphabet City”. She’s spent the better part of three years traveling around the country taking pictures of scenes that resembled the letter of the Alphabet. It allows customers an opportunity to customize photos which can spell names, initials, inspirational words, etc. If you have a second, please check out http://www.alphabetphotography.com/ to get an idea of what it is all about. Windsor will be host to the annual Windsor Art in the Park on June 6-7, and Alphabet Photography will be in attendance.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Few Strike Thoughts

Just some ideas I had that would not fill up separate BLOGs:

GARBAGE VIDEO








It would be nice to be able to talk to her or at least to have someone give me her side of the story.

I just do not think it is just as simple as it is made out to be. If one looks closely at the video, the question at the 35 second mark is has it been edited. If so why?

Why wasn't there any audio either? Was it deleted for a reason?

There was also another person "littering." Who was he and why was he doing it?

Of course, many people know who this lady is, including me, but why she won't give her side of the story, if there is one, surprises me. It just makes her look "guilty!"

WHERE WERE THE POLICE








Take a look at this video taken from City Council by Chris Schnurr and especially at the 1:08 minute mark.

Considering what the Mayor said about liability, why were citizens allowed on the grounds at Willistead. The Star described the Park as "downright dangerous." There was a huge risk of liability that necessitated the Mayor sending out a letter to protect the City's position.

I wonder if 15 year old Zoe was there to let people know where the pieces of fencing were found so no one would get hurt. After all
  • "It's really dangerous," she said. "You can't see them hidden in the grass and weeds."

    [She] said she found most of the wire -- which appears to be cut from chain-linked fencing -- littered along the perimeter of the park with tire tracks running alongside where the wire was found.

    She speculated that the wire was placed there by striking CUPE workers to prevent private companies from mowing the grass before the Art in the Park festival, scheduled for June 6 and 7."

The Star reported at the Ford test track that

  • "Windsor police, concerned about possible conflict, also advised against the citizens' mowing initiative."

Was that warning given at Willistead too?

I just don't get it...why did the Police allow the mowing to take place. They must know City by-laws inside out especially since they are so familiar with Supreme Court of Canada decisions about picketing at private residences!

All's well that ends well. The grass was cut just in time for Art in the Park!

NEGOTIATING WINDSOR-STYLE

On April 18, we read:

  • "Jim Wood, president of CUPE Local 82, accused the mayor of taking too dominant a role in the failed contract talks. "I've said all along (Francis) has been driving the bus," Wood said. "This is my fourth negotiations and this is the weirdest thing I've ever seen with the mayor coming in and talking to me."

    Contacted for a response, Francis said he won't be drawn into making the dispute personal.

    "Listen: They need somebody to attack," Francis said. "That's fine.

    "It's part of my job. They're more than welcome to attack me. They're more than welcome to personalize this. But that's not going to bring a resolution to the matter.

    "At the end of the day, I'm following council direction."

    Francis is not an official member of the city's negotiating team."

Was the City ever negotiating?

Caroline Postma in her BLOG states clearly:

  • "Last week was rare with a unanimous motion not to go to binding arbitration and to reaffirm faith in our bargaining team.

    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...

    I am not sure what the next steps are other than to get back to the table and negotiate the contract...

    I just want the negotiating teams to return to the table and get it done"

So let me see, for most of this time while the strike was on we now know that there were no real negotiations. The City did not allow their team "the tools to truly negotiate" nor "the autonomy required to get a contract."

Does anyone truly believe that things will be any better now? There are no talks scheduled so there is nothing to negotiate!

Our Mayor threatens with "a supervised vote on the employer's final offer, which could be requested by the city under terms of the Ontario Labour Relations Act."

He won't. That requires there to be a "final offer." Is there one? I'd sure like to know the terms.

Eddie of course knows it would be rejected and that is why he is afraid to do it now. He would look foolish! Better to wait until a few striker homes are foreclosed or some strikeers cross the picket line first.

Then the CAW can step in to facilitate a settlement!

WERE LOCKS CHANGED AT CITY HALL

If so, when?

I saw this story:

  • "City services grind to halt; Inside workers poised to join strike 04-18-2009

    Windsor's 1,400 municipal inside employees were poised to join striking outside workers -- worsening the work stoppage that has forced the suspension of city services such as garbage pickup, recycling collection, parks maintenance and now licensing.

    Despite hours of discussion, city negotiators and union representatives could not reach a resolution late Friday night, and CUPE Local 543 prepared to stand by Local 82 on the picket lines."

Yet a CUPE worker wrote to me and claimed:

  • "I haven't seen it printed anywhere about the physical locks on City Hall being changed by 3:45 p.m. April 17/09 either. The locks were changed before the negotiation teams even met on that day to "resolve" the issues. I happened to take a late break and laughed and asked the person changing the lock if they were getting ready for a lockout. He simply grimaced at me and continued on. Shortly after, [another person]came out and said "Did you see that? They just changed the locks on my door!". He was quite surprised."

Does that means that there was no hope of a settlement and the negotiations into the night were all for naught?

ARBITRATION---WORTH A TRY

Councillor Halberstadt raised the bogey man of arbitration in his BLOG as if somehow the sky would fall even though the City firefighters are now involved in it because they could not negotiate a contract with the City either.

How quickly can a decision be reached? It can take some time.

  • "Contract negotiations between the city [St. Catherines] and its firefighters broke down in 2005 and an arbitrator was appointed to resolve the dispute in 2007."

The decision was reached in 2009, four years later, just in time to negotiate again on a new contract:

  • "But because the contract has expired, the city has already begun negotiating again, said city clerk Ken Todd, whose department handles negotiations.

    “We are basically right back at it for 2009,” Todd said. “We’ve already had a preliminary meeting.”

Don't feel too bad for that City:

  • "St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan said Tuesday the city is disappointed, but not surprised because similar raises and seniority awards were being handed out in Ontario."
So why was taxpayer money wasted if this decision was expected:
  • "City administrator Colin Briggs said the municipality was expecting the raises, and has been setting aside money over the past four years in anticipation of having to make the payout.

    But the city had hoped to avoid having to give recognition pay, also known as “3,6 and 9,” based on the amount of seniority.

    However other cities’ firefighters were routinely being awarded recognition pay, Briggs said, which is why the city included $664,000 in the 2009 budget, in anticipation of being forced to pay it."

The City gambled and lost in other words. Why in the words of a Windsor City lawyer, Patrick Brode, in a City of Windsor losing case concerning an expropriation

  • "The city would have owed Meconi the $143,000 plus interest and legal costs last year had it done nothing, so it was worth spending a little more in the bid to overturn the OMB ruling, said Brode.

    "It was well worthwhile for city council to decide that we should contest this before the courts," said Brode.

    "We weren't successful, but I would suggest to you it was worth a try."

Is it really CUPE who is the desperate party and not the City who is afraid of losing?

For whom is arbitration worth the try? Perhaps if there had been negotiations there would be no need to talk about arbitration!

Explaining The CUPE Strike (Part II)



A pleasant lunch in the County with the person who seemingly knows everything about everything but who did not want to talk about the border, his favourite subject, this time around.

He wanted to chat about the City/CUPE strike instead.

Naturally, he had to drop the bombshell to get my attention:

  • “Of course you understand that there is a lot more involved in this than the CUPE strike don’t you?”

I hated this.

Of course I did not have the faintest idea what he was talking about and he knew it. If I knew, then there would be no need to have lunch! Wasn’t that why he always called me, to let me in on the secrets so that I could inform my readers.

How could he say "a lot more involved in this." I had read Henderson's Saturday column, especially the first and last paragraphs. How could there be more if Gord did not know:

  • "I don't want to believe it. But it appears, more and more, that Canada's largest union, CUPE, is on a mission to destroy labour's credibility in the Windsor heartland of its arch-rival, the CAW. For 40 years, off and on, this former labour reporter and ex-CAW member has been following the ups and downs of the city's union movement, but in all that time I've never witnessed a public relations train wreck like the current debacle involving city hall employees...

    I don't know if it was CUPE's intent. Or mere incompetence. But its bizarre handling of this dispute, turning it into a war against the community while the community is on its knees, and while a pragmatic CAW is making huge concessions to save jobs, dishonours the Windsor labour movement."

Arch-rival and pragmatic gave it all away to me! What more could there be? Why Eddie could be the big hero at the AMO 2010 conference down here:

  • "This is a wonderful opportunity for Windsor and Essex County to welcome representatives from across the province and to showcase all that this region has to offer," said Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis. "This is a region that is on the front line of many of the challenges facing municipalities in Ontario today and we hope that holding the conference here will add a further dimension to the experience for conference participants."

Deep Throat continued

  • “What we are really seeing is the start of the war to see who will “rule” Windsor!”


  • “Rule Windsor?” I sputtered. “What the heck does that mean? Who cares about this little pond in the forgotten part of Ontario.”

Deep Throat had that air of superiority about him now that annoyed me but what could I do. He always told me something I never suspected, that I had never considered.

  • “My dear boy, the big money boys love Windsor! It is precisely because it is invisible that makes it so valuable. No media to ask questions, lack of big ticket project experience, a "visionary" Mayor with grand ambitions, virtually no opposition with a rubber-stamp Council and a lot of money to be made here with a "Sole Source" Purchasing By-law Provision!

    It's ideal. Perfect. A dream come true for those who make big bucks by number crunching.

    Of course you remember MFP and that huge $300M contract. Think of these numbers:

     Tunnel deal $75-100M and control of a major border crossing for years
     $1B for a new bridge and control of a major border crossing for years
     Control over the future of the Blue Water Bridge asset sales and perhaps the new bridge in Fort Erie/Buffalo
     Tolls, tolls, tolls
     Multi-billions in profits for a P3 DRIC road
     $¾B for WUC improvements with a huge 86% increase in rates to build upon
     Hundreds of millions for an Enwin sale
     Airport lands development

    Need I go on? The amounts are breathtaking for such a small town.

    Whoever rules Windsor, has tremendous control over these projects and the profits to be earned.”

For the first time I thought that Deep Throat had lost it. It was so ridiculous. Everyone knows that the real power in Windsor is the Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan! Who else could say “THE MAYOR IS WRONG. THE MAYOR IS WRONG” and get away with it!

He is after all the second most powerful politician in Ontario and was a big man on the IGGY leadership team! From successful Energy Minister to Finance to perhaps the Premier’s position if McGuinty decides to go or perhaps to a Federal Cabinet post, Spanky has no challengers!

I almost yelled as I said it

  • “Please, get real. Eddie Francis is no match for Dwight Duncan and his political machine.”

I knew that Deep Throat was leading me to this but I had no desire to drink the water. I continued

  • “Why if Bill Marra had not made several fatal blunders in his mayoral campaign, he would have been mayor. Why he did not run the last time is beyond me since he would have beaten Francis badly.

    Dwight’s local political organization cannot be matched and he has access to all of the campaign funds he needs!”

Deep Throat looked amused.

  • “I was certain that is what you would say and you did not disappoint me. However, you do need to broaden your reading BLOGMeister. A very shrewd politico in the region also writes a BLOG but under the radar and he has been going after the Finance Minister, pointing out his political vulnerabilities:

     Huge Duncan budget deficits over the next 2 or 3 years
     Unemployment will increase as manufacturing declines
     The billions for the CAW auto workers pension liability especially because of the sit-in at his constituency office
     The harmonized PST & GSTtaxes
     He will be known as the "tax and spend" Minister who makes Bob Rae look good.

    He recognized the war too between the two of them some time ago but not many noticed it!

    As Minister of Finance, Dwight gets blamed for the mess big time even if it is not his fault. He becomes the scape-goat especially in his own home town that is suffering the most. Why else do you think that Windsor has received so much Provincial money these days. Two Ministers are at risk!

    The other point that I also found fascinating in his BLOG was his admiration for the job that Senior has been doing calling him astute, undervalued!”

My jaw dropped. Deep Throat was right, again! I understood his explanation. There was the connecting link that no one but Deep Throat had figured out!

Duncan was now very vulnerable politically and I had just Blogged about how Senior was being "deified." I remembered my high school Shakespeare play when Falstaff said that it was now becoming here apparent who might become heir apparent to Windsor's throne.

I understood it now in a flash. It was all to build a massive power base. The CUPE strike was nothing more than a tool to seal a deal between the CAW and the Mayor. I guessed that the CAW had no idea that it was being used either as part of something much, much bigger. They were primarily interested in the increased number of members.

Heck, if Buzz could support the Liberals, Senior could support his son's buddy, our Mayor!

Wow, what a thought. Eddie being supported by the CAW members bolstered by CUPE card-holders. Everyone would forget about the strike unpleasantness once Senior and Eddie settled the deal. How many photos, Editorials and Henderson columns would the Star run praising the two of them for putting aside their personal animosities for the well-being of the City and the workers!

Such drama, such theatrics...I had not seen anything like this other than the scare headlines in the auto talks.

I blurted out:
  • "Imagine the leverage this would give the Mayor over the two Provincial Cabinet Members! He could make or break them with the CAW Union support behind him, never mind the media support. With Federal and provincial elections coming up too, why everyone would be vulnerable and he would be in the driver's seat!

    Eddie could run against either one of the Ministers provincially. He could run federally too against Dwight and beat him easily if Comartin retired or could go after Masse’s seat as Brian already suspects. And get a Cabinet position too, perhaps as Border Czar. Or he could remain as Mayor. A job in high finance was also not out of the question either, never mind practising law."

The permutations were making me dizzy.

If the Province would bow down to Eddie to save 2 Cabinet Ministers---how else to explain the Red Bull money which may have hurt other regional festivals if their funds were reduced for the Windsor extravaganza---he could pressure the Feds too.

No wonder Jeff Watson was so nice about the canal. An "A+" grade for Eddie. Someone has been doing some calculations at the Conservative Party HQ too! They remembered as well that CAW boosted the Liberals and there still are a lot of Liberals in Windsor.

I was stunned, in awe

  • “How could Eddie plot all of this. I know he is a legal technocrat but he has so many balls in the air now, how could he add another one! And one so complicated as well.”

Just at this moment, I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye. It was one of my military escorts. I knew lunch was over. I heard Deep Throat sigh and say

  • “It has all become about power and control, dear boy. Who will wear the Crown in Windsor!

    And, you forgot about the Eminence Greasie didn't you. That is something no one should ever do. Never!”

Monday, June 01, 2009

Explaining The CUPE Strike (Part I)


It was the usual.

First a phone call out of the blue asking if I would be available for lunch. Right away of course. Then an immediate knock on the door with my favourite military men escorting me to a limo for a drive somewhere out to a big house in the County.

It was the subject matter though that was the unusual part. Deep Throat did not want to discuss the border this time! His interest was the City/CUPE strike of all things. It was a shocker to me. Until I understood his explanation.

I will relate what happened as best as I can.
  • “Welcome BLOGMeister. How wonderful to see you again,” in Deep Throat’s most welcoming tone. “I am so glad that you could join me on such short notice.”

The usual group of military people was not there today---off sunning on a Great Lakes cruise on US Coast Guard ships because of the recent US-Canada Shiprider program is how it was described to me---so it was just the two of us.

  • “You seem so perplexed about the CAW involvement in the CUPE strike. You are very close to what is going on but you have not yet figured out where it is leading and why.”

Typical of Deep Throat. A backhanded compliment I thought.

I had Blogged that just as Sid Ryan had been accused of using Windsor to put the pressure on other cities for not cutting concessions, a similar argument could be made that our Mayor was fronting for other cities to deliver the message that AMO members were not giving in to CUPE demands.

I knew that CUPE Toronto workers held a strike vote recently although no strike date was set:

  • “Inside and outside city workers have given their unions strong mandates to go on strike this summer - raising the prospect of the first-ever co-ordinated municipal workers' strike in Toronto's decade-long history.

    On the weekend, Toronto's 18,000 inside workers gave their union, CUPE Local 79, a 90 per cent vote of support to call a strike. That vote came just days after the city's outside workers in CUPE Local 416 gave their leadership an 89 per cent strike mandate.

    The high numbers aren't a surprise, but the timing of the two votes is historic. In years past, the city has only faced strikes by one union at a time.

    This time, the unions are working together and will be meeting to co-ordinate any possible strike…

    We will be going back to the table with a clear message from the membership," he said. "The city must take its 118 pages of concessions off the table."

    The city last saw a municipal workers strike in 2002, nudging up against a papal visit. If workers go out on strike in 2009, it will be the first CUPE strike on Mayor David Miller's watch...

    On Monday, Miller maintained that the city won't be making any generous offers.

    "We're in the midst of negotiations and I won't negotiate in public, but we've said the city's in a difficult position this year. It's a year we're going to require restraint. In negotiating in good faith at the bargaining table, we're trying not only to reach a resolution that's fair to the workers but recognize the city's financial circumstances - particularly with the increases in welfare caseload. That puts a strain on the city budget."

In my usual stating the obvious manner, I said,

  • “It certainly looks like what may happen in Toronto has been foreshadowed in Windsor!”

  • “Of course you are correct.” As I almost fell out of my chair with this rare positive comment, Deep Throat continued, “I am sure that you saw the CBC.ca Headline:

    Windsor residents tidy up parks as city strike enters 7th week.”

    The interesting part was it was a “Toronto Headlines” story not a Windsor one! The strike theatre drama has now started there.

    You do know, as your Mayor has suggested, Toronto is 400 to 500 kilometres away.”

And with that, Deep Throat burst out laughing almost to the point of choking on his coffee!

  • “I cannot believe the hypocrisy. Using that logic, no wonder the border file is such a mess. The Mayor hired out of town consultants who live at least that distance away to advise him what to do with that file!”

And then Deep Throat started laughing again until tears came to his eyes.

  • “How does your newspaper let him get away with that. Mediation for Greenlink according to Eddie’s terms of reference but no arbitration for his own workers. Bizarre!”
  • Do you think I am correct about my speculation that the CAW wants to take over CUPE Windsor?” I asked. “Oh sure, the local CUPE Presidents were probably kept in the loop about the Mayor/Senior meeting. And of course, one can argue that it was CAW showing solidarity with CUPE. But still…”

My voice trailed off as I watched Deep Throat pulling out one of those Cuban cigars that he just loved smoking in a public place to annoy the Ontario Smoke Police.

  • “Well that could start a huge Union war but CAW has done that before. Remember the dispute with the Service Employees International Union. Why not go after CUPE too since they have a lot of workers in Canada who make good wages. Why it would be so nice for CAW to be able to add them since so many auto workers are out of a job or retired. It certainly would generate a lot of Union dues for CAW!”

    Consider a few hints and you may get your answer:

     Gary Parent, president of the Windsor and District Labour Council, has enlisted the support of thousands of CAW retirees to help pressure the mayor and city council to come to a deal with striking city workers and Veteran Taxi cabbies.

    Taking advantage of the CAW Local 444 local spring luncheon for retirees Wednesday, Parent urged the 1,600 in attendance to put pressure on Mayor Eddie Francis, council members and city administration to settle on both labour fronts.

    CAW may stop funding children's sports leagues if coaches, parents cut grass during strike

    WINDSOR, Ont. -- The CAW may stop sponsoring children’s sports leagues if coaches and parents take to the baseball diamonds and soccer fields with lawn mowers during the city workers’ strike.

    “We don’t have a habit of funding scab organizations,” said Gary Parent, secretary-treasurer of CAW Local 444.

     CAW president Ken Lewenza stormed out of a brief meeting with Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis at City Hall Friday because he felt an “angry” and intractable Francis lacked respect for unions and was personalizing the municipal strike after pickets targeted his home.

    Francis bristled at the suggestion he was personalizing the strike or dismissive of unions and the collective bargaining process…

    “What I don’t have respect for is somebody coming into my office of his position and telling me to F-Off in front of my staff.”

     Both sides in the nearly seven-week-old strike by city workers insist publicly they’re willing to get back to the table — so then do it, advises one of Windsor’s former larger-than-life labour bosses.

    “What’s stopping them? There is no such thing as can’t … this is affecting the whole city,” said Frank LaSorda, who celebrated his 80th birthday Saturday with family and a who’s who of Windsor’s labour community paying homage to a man who led United Auto Workers Local 444 during some tough economic times after the murder of legendary leader Charlie Brooks in 1977.”

     On Schnurr’s BLOG: First, it’s non-union employees that are trying to organize (we are not all management). Second, for the time being we have chosen to become an independent trade union. The CAW is providing assistance.

I thought I knew where he was heading with this

  • “Oh I get it. This sounds like the Lewenza “no concessions” approach and then make concessions so that you are described as pragmatic! Put on a tough front for the CUPE workers but get ready to step in to do the deal when needed or help facilitate one. In fact I saw a Letter to the Editor that said “Let Lewenza settle CUPE strike.”

Deep Throat chuckled with approval.

  • “You are getting quicker. That LaSorda Star story sure sounded like a Good cop/Bad cop routine to me.”

Then just as quickly, his mood changed to a more serious and somber one.

  • “Of course you understand that there is a lot more involved in this than the CUPE strike don’t you?”

(To be continued)

Whose Strike Is It


I have some trouble understanding why the CAW is involved in the CUPE strike. Is it merely solidarity for another union?

Junior as Councillor invites his Dad as CAW National President to meet with the Mayor. Who asked him to do so? CUPE? I would have thought it made more sense to have Junior work to have CUPE meet with the Mayor. Ten minutes later, they part with Eddie saying that:
  • "Francis still opposed to arbitration.

    “The message that was being communicated to me was the message that I should send this to arbitration and bring this thing to an end,” Francis said following the meeting.

    “I reinforced city council’s position that we’re not going to be prepared to go to arbitration and put the decision in somebody’s hands that’s 300, 400, 500 kilometres away.”

Why bother meeting in the first place? What did it accomplish?

Why isn't the CAW more involved in solving their own taxi drivers strike?

  • "A strike by Veteran Cab drivers in Windsor, Ontario continues as CAW Local 195 members remain off the job in a dispute over lease rates for 195 cabs.

    Approximately 300 drivers at Veteran cab are fighting to reduce weekly lease rates for their cabs as well as taking on other issues. The strike started April 2."

It just seems so odd to me. Why not focus on one's own turf? I have not seen CAW being too successful in their efforts for their own union members here.

I found this interesting quote however from the President of CUPE, Paul Moist, who delivered a message of solidarity to delegates at the Canadian Auto Workers 2008 Bargaining and Political Action conference in Toronto a year ago. Perhaps that explains it all:

  • "On mutual CAW/CUPE support:

    "You were CUPE's strongest private sector ally during the Harris years. More recently your economist, Jim Stanford, has been a strong supporter of public services as a member of the City of Toronto's Blue Ribbon panel. You generously welcome locked-out Journal de Quebec Workers at a conference earlier this year.

    CUPE will be there for you as we were with you in Windsor, in Ottawa and often in the past."

And this one from Senior last November:

  • "All CAW university units across the country and the Educational Technical Office and Professional (ETOP) Council are giving their full support to striking teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants at York University. CUPE 3903 went on strike November 6.

    "Members of CUPE 3903 have the solidarity and support of the CAW and we will provide whatever assistance they request," said CAW National President Ken Lewenza."

Finally, this note on the CUPE website:

  • "Historic meeting of the CAW, CUPE and Steel Workers, March 12th -14th

    CUPE Ontario's historic Coordinated Bargaining Conference (March 12-14, in Toronto) brought together private and public sector unionists from Ontario and across Canada to pool their knowledge. At this perilous moment in time, faced as we are with a national economy in decline, it is critical that the Labour movement in Canada has decisively proclaimed that it pool its knowledge and power in order to protect Canadians.

    At a moment when the CAW are fighting hard to save the auto industry in Canada and the Steelworkers are bracing for the impact of the slowdown in industrial production, CAW's Ken Lewenza and USW's Wayne Fraser took the time to come to CUPE Ontario to say that the only way forward is for working people to support one another. Private sector unions support public sector workers because they know that public service workers provide the best services for them and their families. In turn, CUPE members understand that strong private sector unions mean a stronger Ontario economy. The message was clear and reiterated by all: strong unions, united, make for strong communities."

Perhaps that is all that this is. I'll just watch and see how it plays out.

Banks vs. Workers

I read this quote on rabble.ca. It may very well help explain why workers are not prepared to make concessions even in these tough economic times.
  • "several weeks ago, over 2,000 union and community members met in Toronto and pledged solidarity to one another.

    “They pledge solidarity on the picket lines, in their struggles to get collective agreements that will be strengthened, not gutted through concession bargaining” she said. Kennedy’s seen tough times for many unions in Toronto, going back to SARS when UNITE HERE was devastated by cuts and layoffs.

    Now, as many Steelworkers have been laid off with no chance in the near future of finding another manufacturing job, union activists are prepared to stand up and say: “We are not the problem. Don’t try and fix the economic crisis on our backs. Don’t continue to bail out the banks.”

    “You need to look at the workers, so that we can have a decent living for our families, our children and our communities,” said Kennedy."
A different perspective isn't it!


Look at the manufacturing sector. Notwithstanding the financial help given to the auto companies, provided they went into bankruptcy and restructured, one can still wonder why it was so painful for them to get Government money but so easy it seems for the financial institutions.

It still boggles my mind that Governments have taken such a hard-line position on our manufacturing industries, especially one which directly or indirectly impacts so many workers.

I am surprised that we have not read many "conspiracy theories" yet about why this world economic mess has really happened and why it happened so quickly. As for me, I just do not believe that it is all due to "sub-prime" mortgages!

Wait until some of these big multi-billion dollar private deals start collapsing under their own weight of debt! Then we will be talking huge amounts. It would not surprise me if that is really why the banks are quietly being helped out.

Here is one conspiracy story just to whet your interest:

  • "Bilderberg: The ultimate conspiracy theory

    By Jonathan Duffy
    BBC News Online Magazine

    The Bilderberg group, an elite coterie of Western thinkers and power-brokers, has been accused of fixing the fate of the world behind closed doors. As the organisation marks its 50th anniversary, rumours are more rife than ever.

    Given its reputation as perhaps the most powerful organisation in the world, the Bilderberg group doesn't go a bundle on its switchboard operations.

    Telephone inquiries are met with an impersonal female voice - the Dutch equivalent of the BT Callminder woman - reciting back the number and inviting callers to "leave a message after the tone".

    Anyone who accidentally dialled the number would probably think they had stumbled on just another residential answer machine.

    But behind this ultra-modest façade lies one of the most controversial and hotly-debated alliances of our times.

    On Thursday the Bilderberg group marks its 50th anniversary with the start of its yearly meeting.

    For four days some of the West's chief political movers, business leaders, bankers, industrialists and strategic thinkers will hunker down in a five-star hotel in northern Italy to talk about global issues.

    What sets Bilderberg apart from other high-powered get-togethers, such as the annual World Economic Forum (WEF), is its mystique.

    Not a word of what is said at Bilderberg meetings can be breathed outside. No reporters are invited in and while confidential minutes of meetings are taken, names are not noted.

    The shadowy aura extends further - the anonymous answerphone message, for example; the fact that conference venues are kept secret. The group, which includes luminaries such as Henry Kissinger and former UK chancellor Kenneth Clarke, does not even have a website.

    In the void created by such aloofness, an extraordinary conspiracy theory has grown up around the group that alleges the fate of the world is largely decided by Bilderberg."