Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Why The Anonymous Source Did It


It was late at night and I was beat. Another long day of Blogging. It's hard work being, as one reader said, "the only alternative to the CBC, AM 800 and the Windsor Star." Nice compliment to make it all worthwhile.

Just as I was about to turn off my PC and head to bed I heard this banging on the door. Who could that be I wondered. It was too late for Deep Throat I chuckled to myself. He is a morning person.

"Hold your horses," I shouted. "I am coming!"

After turning on the outside light, I opened the door. I could not believe who it was.

"For heaven's sake. Turn off the light and let me in. I am taking a big enough chance by coming here in the first place."


While I would not categorize the person as an inside mole, I have received the odd bit of useful information from the person over time.

"How about a cup of coffee?" I asked, always being the gracious host. "It looks like we can both use one."

The pleasantries over, I asked the obvious question: "Why are you here so late?"

"Oh Blogmeister, you must be tired. Haven't you guessed, I am the "Anonymous Source blamed for talks' collapse" as the Star's headline so elegantly put it. I am the one that they are hunting down for their investigation." With that, my guest burst out laughing. "It is like a cheap B-grade movie."

My eyes widened in surprise and then I laughed out "I have never met a free agent before! I could not believe that term the Mayor used. I thought we were looking for a football or baseball star since the Mayor was so involved in sports events."

I have to admit that I was somewhat shocked. This person had clearly taken a big chance in talking to the press and now to me.

"Why did you do it?" I asked naively as if I should expect an answer.

"Wow, your reputation is true. You are very direct and to the point when it comes to events that can impact the City.

I've read your speculation that the City wanted to re-negotiate downward even more so released the information. I heard that it was the typical City Hall leak to the media--this time to TV to keep the Star out of it given the hits they are taking about the Publisher's office--to make the Mayor look like a genius and to capitalize on the popularity some think he is earning because of his hard-line against strikers so he might run for a third-term.

Gosh, some even thought it was the Union who wanted to work up their members so much before the 1 PM Friday meeting that they would reject the possible solution and demand that the Union tell the City where they could go!"

I was stunned. If it was not for the City or not for the Union, then for whom was it done?

"Another coffee please," my guest asked quietly. "Look, I did what I had to do. We were going to have more months of chaos. There was not going to be a deal.

The Police Chief was right except there could be escalation from citizens or strikers that could result in harm or a jail term. For what? To keep an S&P rating? To teach Toronto a lesson?

People are hurting. Ten weeks of striking is enough for heaven's sake in an economy in a City that is under the gun."

The tension was so thick now you could cut it with a knife.

"I am so sick and tired of it. One crisis after another. The simplest of matters requiring all of this drama, the theatrics, the positioning. Why can't there be honesty, laying out the facts so everyone knows the issues? Why the secrecy?

I read your BLOG the other day and decided I had enough. I read what the person from the Toronto Board of Trade said:
  • "This is the way negotiations have always gone in recent years: strike threats and last-minute, round-the-clock bargaining. But this year's negotiations can't be routine. Both labour and management in Toronto have much to learn from what their U.S. counterparts are going through...

    In U.S. cities, mayors make their case in public well in advance. They lay out the severity of their situation in the simplest terms. They explain the tough choices ahead: If the city wants to save jobs, it has to find new ways to save money. Then they invite the unions to be part of the solution.

    This approach also has the benefit of being transparent for all taxpayers, and gives public opinion a bigger say in the outcome."

"Oh stop," I blurted out. "This is Windsor. If there is a hard way to do something or an easy way, we always choose the hard way and then move it up a notch or ten!"

"My, my Blogmeister. You have become too cynical since you have been Blogging while Eddie Francis has been Mayor. It was not always like this. If you fill up my cup again, I will share something with you that few know about."

Who could resist that invitation? I was wide awake anyway so after I made a fresh pot, the Anonymous Source continued:

"Labour negotiations does not have to be war. Solutions can be reached even in the most trying cases. All one needs are reasonable people and the facts put on the table.

Let me tell you about this situation that involved the Windsor Public Library a few years ago and retirement benefits. It may not be 100% correct but what I was able to discover.

Believe it or not, the Mayor is correct in that the long term costs of retiree benefits are non-sustainable. We can see easily how quickly they have escalated since he has become Mayor! Given the reality that most people experience 95% of all their lifetime health-related costs in the last five years of their lives, the cost of these benefits will affect the City one way or the other regardless of who is actually paying the monthly premium.

In fact, it is probably the single most important priority in controllable costs-the fact that they would outpace the current employee benefit costs.

It is the approach the City has taken that is in error to my mind. Just like that Toronto article pointed out.

I did some research and asked around over the last few days about how this matter was handled at the Windsor Public Library where there the PRB for CUPE members was ended. If they did it without a fuss, why couldn’t the Mayor have done it that way? Oooops I just answered my own question. Eddie needs to be the hero.

At WPL, management recognized the long term liability of retiree benefits. They sent out an informal survey to colleagues across Ontario asking how WPL compared and what they were doing to control their growing liability. To their absolute surprise, WPL and Vaughan were the only libraries in Ontario to offer paid retirement benefits for life, including spouse. A few offered employees the opportunity to continue their own benefits to age 65 upon early retirement. Several offered a death benefit only. None offered employer paid benefits after 65. WPL was clearly following an automobile union-type model adopted by the City.

The WPL’s benefit consultant was called in to conduct an actuarial project of retiree benefit costs. It was mind blowing...because retirees are the highest users of drug and health benefits, their usage experience was causing overall group premiums to be 50% higher. In fact, based on projections, costs just for retirees were projected to exceed current employees by 2010.

Rather than ignoring a crisis for years and then demandig action be taken when it is almost too late, similar to how Eddie handled WUC and now PRBs, WPL leadership looked down the road and knew it had to deal with the looming crisis immediately.

For legal reasons, WPL gave current employees written notice that the PRB policy would expire with the current agreement in one year's time. It was NOT dropped on the table during negotiations so the Union would have a legal argument that Council could not revoke a long standing policy. In fact, Eddie might have been able to deal with the entire issue of retiree benefits, not just new hires, if he had handled it differently. It depends on the facts and the legal position clearly.

WPL also took a different approach to negotiations than the current approach. DUH, they actually talked to the Union in advance. They invited the benefit consultant into negotiations (CUPE had put retiree benefits on the table as a new item for the agreement) to explain to the committee the actual costs of benefits, and the basis for future projections. WPL provided the research to CUPE's expert for their review. Note that no feedback was provided so presumably CUPE accepted the numbers.

WPL knew standing firm against this emotional demand would be all that could be withstood in these negotiations. Accordingly, no other substantial demands were made of the Union and WPL offered the going public sector wage increase of the day. Otherwise it is tackling too many items when PRBs was the biggie! The others could be left for another day was the strategy.

WPL and the Union went back and forth cooperatively to solve the challenge- continuity of retiree benefits vs the the wage offer...the link was obvious to all. Long term projections in costs were equated to lost positions in subsequent years. I was told that WPL would have had to eliminate 8 full time employees every five years to pay for this benefit. The argument was how could the Union in good conscience argue for long-time members' largesse at the cost of slaughtering younger members who had families and mortgages and so on.

It was a tough choice for everyone.

Close to the end WPL offered to carry retirees on their group plan but at their expense.

In the end, CUPE dropped the demand without explanation in their final and successful last counter offer

The parties left the room with an acceptable solution AND a good working relationship. Unfortunately, the City today has forgotten that these are your people, the ones you have to trust, value and count on every day...you don't win by starving them out. Bitter feelings will be inevitable; morale will drop even further.

Eddie may or may not be around after the next election, but the next Mayor and Council will have to live with the employee memory of today."

With that, the Anonymous Source stopped, drained! A few minutes passed. "I did it knowing it might hurt the negotiations. I had to have the confrontation end. It was the only way I thought it would happen.

I did expect that Council would get involved. I had no idea that Councillor Marra would file an Integrity Commissioner Complaint. Now you know why I came here so late. I could not afford to be spotted coming to visit you.

You were right in your BLOG the other day. The Three Blind Mice need to hold their noses, bring in 3 more Councillors and force an arbitration to achieve a resolution, say for the next 3 years. I would have said 2 years but there is an election next year and who needs more posturing by politicians for about a year and a half.

These three Councillors and the other 3 or more are the only possible solution right now. I heard about the bitterness listening to the news on CKLW. As far as the Mayor goes, he comes along or is pushed out of the way. Surely Councillors have had enough of being blindsided by him.

During that time, the parties need to agree to put their cards on the table, to share information freely and bring in Union members and the public into the dialogue. Then they can both agree to a workable solution just the way it was done at the WPL.

Enough of secrecy and oneupsmanship. The Mayor as a lawyer should know that the basis of the trial system is "no surprises." Look at the mess with the Police and jury investigations."

With that my guest got up to leave. I had little to say. I was shell-shocked. "You know you will be crucified if you are found out."

"Oh it's a risk I am prepared to accept," said my guest. "Don't worry about me. No one will suspect me. After all, I don't exist. I am anonymous. Heck if worse comes to worst, the City will trade me away to Tecumseh or LaSalle. I am a free agent after all"

Friday, June 19, 2009

Protecting A Journalist's Sources


Oh my, things are going to get interesting around here.

And why we need a strong media presence in this City.

  1. "Mayor Eddie Francis promised an internal probe"

  2. "The hunt is on to find the “free agent” who torpedoed talks in the city strike by violating a media blackout and leaking to reporters what were purported to be the latest offers and counter-offers in the 10-week-old impasse.

    “I think an investigation has to be undertaken,” said Ward 4 Coun. Bill Marra, who advised his colleagues Thursday morning that he had faxed a complaint to the city’s new integrity commissioner, Earl Basse.

    “I took it upon myself to file a complaint and trigger an investigation independent of city hall, independent of city council.”

  3. "The leaked details were first reported by Daryl Newcombe of A Channel News Wednesday night."
All this fuss and muss over a leak.

Wait, I got it. I know how the strike can be settled. It is the only way!

Daryl can become the one who settles the strike. He could threaten to reveal all unless the parties settled their dispute within, say 7 days!

Imagine the pressure that would put the parties under because no one is entirely sure who leaked what! Who would want to be accused of being the "free agent."

If they settled the strike, it would make the Labour Board complaint moot and who would care then who the leakor was.

Here is one thing I noticed in all of the stories that I found very interesting over PRBs and Council members.

Here is what CUPE claimed:

Here is what Eddie claimed:


  • "Published: Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    Mayor Eddie Francis's bid Monday to do away with post-retirement benefits for politicians drew an angry response from union leaders representing striking city workers...

    Francis later told reporters the idea to seek a repeal of the post-retirement benefits for elected officials, approved in a bylaw in 2003, came to him earlier that day. He said it was in response to CUPE advertisements and recent union leadership statements asking why such benefits are good for politicians but not for employees."

It is in the interests of everyone to resolve this matter now before things get totally out of control. I can foresee massive lawsuits coming unless it is done quickly!

The Chief Has Issues Too

At least this time around the Windsor Police Chief is being somewhat ambiguous and more diplomatic about whom he is talking unlike his unfortunate remarks previously where he seemed to be taking sides. Someone has taught him how to speak in public:
  • "Meanwhile Windsor police Chief Gary Smith said police will keep a close eye on what’s happening on picket lines as frustration mounts.

    “I would expect . . . frustrations will start to show,” said Smith.

    “I have to reemphasize that I hope in the matter of being frustrated they don’t make silly mistakes that pushes things into the criminal element where we have to lay charges or make arrests. That changes the whole tone of it. A criminal conviction in a border city with the hardening of the borders could make it very difficult for somebody.”

I wonder if it is the same "they" as the "they" from Dief the Chief?

Did you like how the Windsor Chief of Police stepped in before and put pressure on strikers just before the parties got back to the bargaining table?

Mind you, he had been busy trying to investigate what his Department does respecting getting "quality" jurors for criminal trials:
  • "The police chief says he knows the jury check officers ran before the trial was not an isolated case. "The answer is it is being done," he said. "The frequency, we don't know yet."
Nice Star headline too that should put the fear into those nasty strikers:
  • "Chief warns strikers

    Police Chief Gary Smith vowed to crack down on striking city workers who break the law after strike-related incidents, including confrontations on picket lines, kept officers hopping Thursday.

    The chief said about 80 per cent of all police calls Thursday morning were strike related and officers are investigating nine instances in the past two days in which city-owned vehicles and those marked with the Red Bull logo had tires punctured or slashed.

    He said he can understand the growing frustration of striking workers, but they cannot break the law. "These are good people, but all of a sudden, they're going to get slapped with a criminal charge," Smith warned. "We can't stand by and let crimes happen."

Since he obviously knows that these crimes have actually been committed and by strikers, then why do his officers need to investigate. He must know who they are too so he ought to go out and arrest them and lock them up.

Oh, you think perhaps the Police might be responsible for some of the "frustration" too:

  • "Smith conceded police have made some "mistakes" in dealing with strikers to date."

Nope, no mistakes when dealing with those opposed to the strike, just with strikers.

I think the Chief may have bigger problems than he is willing to admit though. After all of this time when there is a strike on, he can accuse his officers of

  • "junior kindergarten policing."

Oh my. What an indictment! That's a good way to increase morale or is that an attack on his own staff! Have the kindergarten kids being reprimanded yet, sent to sit into the corner, no more $100K Club salaries? Thank goodness there was no incident because the Police officers were not trained properly it seems! Does that mean Senior staff do not know what they are doing either?

Or perhaps the real story is that the Officers prevented a dangerous situation and should be congratulated! No matter, it made the Star.

Where is Sgt Brett Corey when you need him? Oh you remember him don't you. He was quick off the mark when he opined on what the Supreme Court of Canada said respecting picketing in front of the Mayor's house in a court case I could not find even though I looked hard:
  • "Windsor police spokesman Sgt. Brett Corey said the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2002 that it is unlawful to picket the private residence of the executive of a corporation."

Is the failure of the Police to enforce the rules respecting grass-cutting causing an esclation in controversy between strikers and citizens that could give rise to violence and someone getting hurt?

Has Sgt Corey instructed officers about what the City Parks By-law says about grass-cutting:

  • Destruction or Abuse of Trees, Plants, Flowers, Shrubs and Grass
    While in a Park, no person shall:

    (1) Destroy, cut, mark, break, dig, pull up, burn or in any way damage, injure, deface, remove or deface any tree, flower, shrub, plant, sod, grass or other vegetation, soil, sand, gravel or wood.

Perhaps the Department could instruct their officers what they should do so that we do not have any more Star photos which are designed to inflame opinions just before Sid Ryan came to town. It is a shame that a CUPE striker, as a Star photo shows, has to do this:


I do not envy a Police Officer on strike duty. It is a tough job being an officer in a situation where emotions are high and people have been on strike for so long and citizens feel their City is turning ugly. No matter what an officer does, someone will get angry.

In this case, the Police Department must take pro-active steps to ensure that the law is enforced so that no one does something stupid that may inadvertantly cause a terrible harm by an unthinking action. That is why we have laws after all.

It would also help if the Star was somewhat more careful in what photos they run. They have caused enough damage with that!

As you can see, I will agree with Sgt Corey on one thing he said:

  • "Our position in this strike is we are trying to be impartial and de-escalate situations," Corey said.

    "Tensions are running high. We are between a rock and a hard place."

I see that he got to contact his Chief and remind him of that:

  • "So it’s just a balancing act of trying to make sure everybody’s rights are protected and nobody’s rights are infringed. That’s the hard part about being a police officer on the picket line.”

    He said he’ll also remind his officers to keep level heads.

    “I’ll emphasize to my officers to remain neutral, think about the basics when you’re out there, be careful and don’t get tricked into doing something drastic, because that could happen as well,” Smith said.

Back to the Chief, I do not envy the Chief though. I am sure that by the time that the Privacy Commissioner gets through investigating Police practices, big changes will be made that will make the CUPE matter appear miniscule.

In case you are interested, here is how Versadex is advertised. It is the system Windsor Police used for juror background checks:

  • "The checks are made through Versadex, a confidential database that contains information on any contact an individual has had with police.

City/CUPE Drama

Just some more thoughts. I told you that nothing is ever simple in Windsor

COUNCILLOR MOM

I wonder if she has cooled off yet after storming out of the City's meeting calling the City's actions unfair. While I am sure that she has scored a lot of points with CUPE members because she has again confirmed how the City has been acting, she was not elected to fume!

Her job is to act in the best interests of the City by being at meetings, presenting her opinions to her colleagues, trying to perusade them to her side and voting on issues. She achieves none of this by walking out in a fit of anger while ensuring that the media covers her. In fact, she hurts those she is trying to protect by NOT being there.

What was discussed after she left? What could she have contributed? Would that have helped in the final Council vote? I guess we will never know.

CUPE FRIDAY MEETING

Would I ever like to be invited to the CUPE meeting on Friday. Perhaps some of my CUPE readers could arrange for me to get a pass:

  • "Information Meeting for 82 and 543 members - Friday, June 19 @ 1 p.m. at the Caboto Club (2175 Parent Avenue) - doors will open at 12 noon. You must present your Union card or two pieces of i.d. to gain entry to the meeting.

    Please be aware that there is a media blackout in place. Recent reports that you may have heard from the media do not reflect our Union's position."

I must admit based on the media reports, it seemed that CUPE might be prepared to trade PRBs for cash. I thought, if true, why was it necessary to have such a long strike about it when CUPE was going to cave anyway. If it was not going to happen, I figured it would be a very long and bitter strike that was going to require the Province to intervene to solve this. I wondered frankly, if the Windsor locals could hold out given the hardship that many members have been telling me about.

I assume that this is what is going to be discussed at the session, to see how members react and how far they are prepared to go. Moreover, the union leaders are going to have to talk about an action plan considering their charges against the City. Where do they go from here?

It should be interesting on Friday and I wish I could be there!

CUPE CHARGES LEGITIMATE: FRANCIS

This is the third silly headline the Star has run in the past few weeks!

  • "CUPE charges frivolous: Francis"

DUH, what else do you expect him to say? Too bad that he forgot to throw in "vexatious" as well.

Here is a game to play over the weekend or on the picket lines. Who would want to sabotage the negotiations and why. Eddie claimed he was hoping that there was going to be an anouncement that a deal had been reached.

Someone in the Union could have done it as an example. That person could have been furious about the thought that PRBs were going to be removed after such a long strike. Rather than having that happen, a good leak to the media could get workers so upset that there was no hope that such a proposal would pass.

What about someone from the City? That person could have leaked the information knowing workers would get upset as well. Negotiatons would have to start again but now, the City would know how low the Union was prepared to go to settle and would come back with an even lower offer knowing that the alternative was weeks more on the line and more suffering!

Another alternative....well you can do your own guessing now!

UNFAIR LABOUR PRACTICES COMPLAINT

It's about time! Given what Councillor Mom has said, I am surprised it took so long.

When you have a member of management setting out facts that make those charges seem possible and then walking out of a City meeting saying what the City was doing was unfair then what else did the Union need to go forward?

Did anyone forget the stairwell negotiations and what happened next? Were there media leaks that caused concern? Read the full complaint on the Star website.

Why even Percy Hatfield, another member of management claimed:

  • "Coun. Percy Hatfield, who supports eliminating post-retirement benefits for employees, also supports axing them for politicians.

    But after failing to defer that issue until after the strike, he voted against it. Cutting the benefits for politicians is the first step toward cutting them for employees, he said. The message is, now we're entitled to ask you to give them up. On the eve of negotiations.

    "I think that's bad faith bargaining," he said."

Like it or not when the matter is heard, when 2 members of management accuse their own group of negotiating in bad faith, that is very serious!

A cynic, which of course I am not, might wonder if the call for negotiations was just a ruse to prevent a complaint from being filed.

UNFAIR LABOUR PRACTICES COMPLAINT HEARING TRANSCRIPT

CUPE LAWYER: Councillor Postma, has the City acted in bad faith during these negotiations

COUNCILLOR POSTMA: Yes!

CUPE LAWYER: Councillor Hatfield, has the City acted in bad faith during these negotiations

COUNCILLOR HATFIELD: Yes!

CITY LAWYER: Spends the next several hours attacking and trying to destroy the credibility of two Councillors who have been participants in the manner in which the City has chosen to negotiate.

In the end, if there is a benefit of the doubt as to whether there is bad faith or not, guess on whom the decision maker will be forced to rely! What a farce.

BRING IN THE WHITEWASH CREW

  • "Francis released to the media a copy of the 30-page complaint CUPE filed with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

    Francis said the city would be conducting an internal investigation into a leak of the latest offer to the media Wednesday evening."
A WUC audit and now this for Eddie! Not good.

Did anyone notice in the CUPE materials on the Star website that it said:

I am unaware of Labour Board practice. I assume the Complaint is a "public" document once filed. However, I assume the Mayor got legal advice that it was appropriate to release the information to the media.


STAR EDITORIAL

Not much of a slap on the wrist to the Mayor after reading Thursday's Editorial. More likely, it was a punch in the mouth to ALL Councillors to warn them to shut up or else. They are destroying the City's well-thought out plan to cripple CUPE.

Poor Councillor Hatfield. He sure got told off. What does he know about unions. After all, he is described on the City's website this way:

  • "While working at the CBC, Councillor Hatfield was a Union Shop Steward and held several National and International positions with his union, The Canadian Media Guild, which is a local of The Newspaper Guild and a Sector within the Communications Workers of America, including CMG Vice-President for Central Canada; three terms as an At-Large Vice-President with TNG/CWA; and two terms as TNG/CWA's Vice-President for Eastern Canada."

Now we have Star Editors giving out legal advice for free. No wonder Windsor lawyers are having a tough time generating fees when the Police and Editors can tell people what the law says. Why even Councillor Jones has been taught about "black letter law!"

Clearly there must have been a meeting in the Publisher's office between the 2 Star Editorials:
  • "The Windsor Star editorial opinions are developed and finalized in the Publisher's Office. They are developed in a group setting by a group usually composed of Publisher Jim Venney, Editor-in-Chief Marty Beneteau, Editorial Page Editor John Coleman and Karen Hall. We believe that even if one member of our group has a bias or conflict, the remainder of the group is in a position to offset that bias."

The newest Editorial is nothing more than trying to justify that Monday's meeting was not as bad as every one knows it is. Eddie blew the City's position big time by his poorly thought-out Motion.

Here is where the Star's logic falls apart since they refuse to correct what they have said happened Monday night in spite of my letter to the Star asking them to do so:

  • "There is no hypocrisy here. Hypocrisy is when you say one thing and do the opposite...

    More relevant would be to hear our councillors' views on retirement benefits for those yet to be elected. It would be wiser to judge them based on future actions on this matter, not the Monday night motion."

Regretfully for the Star, they did so Monday night even if the Star tries to deny it. While demanding that CUPE new hires not have PRBs, newly-elected councillors would keep them. The only difference would have been, if the MAYOR's Motion passed, was that in one case the costs would increase from 50% to 100% for Councillors. The newly-elected Councillors would still have PRBs.

WILL THE THREE BLIND MICE HAVE SOME SENSE

Councillors Dilkens, Marra and Halberstadt could be the key players to bring this silliness to a close.

Like it or not, with the break-up in talks, negotiations will no longer work. There will have to be binding arbitration one way or the other.

If the three of them unite as a block and vote for arbitration, it will take place. But who would dare do it and face the wrath of the Star? And the Mayor?

Councillor Dilkens appears to be hard-lined opposed to the Union's position as a reflection of his constituents' wishes. His rejection of the CUPE 5,000 signatures petition as an example was ridiculous as far as I am concerned! Even if half were "flawed," it is still a significant number of people calling for arbitration.

Councillor Marra would be the most likely of the three to vote for arbitration as a last resort since he prefers consensus. If it cannot be achieved, what other solution is there?

In the end, it all comes down to Alan! If he swtiches, the strike is over.

Frankly, he has no choice but to do so. He admitted his self-interest in voting the way he did on the PRBs. His position was no different than CUPE's in giving up a benefit. He wants it. So do they.

Alan now must support arbitration since negotiations will never achieve a solution.

It's time already! Alan must do his duty no matter how unpleasant! However, he can take comfort in the fact that this mess was caused by "Eddie's gaffe" as the first Star Editorial called it. He can say that Eddie blindsided all of Council again as he did on the canal. I know what Alan should say:

"BLAME EDDIE!"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

CUPE Strike From The CAW Perspective

A Report from the Chrysler Union to its membership that was forwarded to me.

It talks about the Chrysler plant reopening, more job woes, the Casino and its problems with the new passport rules and their take on the City/CUPE strike.

You will find it fascinating reading especially if the rumours are true about CUPE giving up on PRBs.

What people ought to consider is that the CAW at one time was the leader in providing benefits for workers. Other employers, whether Union or non-union, followed them kicking and screaming and were forced to offer comparable benefits to workers.

Now that the CAW has been weakened by the collapse of the Big Three who will be the leader? Are we seeing the pendulum swinging the other way with take-aways being demanded by Companies? Are we seeing the end of benefits?

If you want to know what our economy may be coming to respecting full-time employment, listen to the LCBO worker ads on the radio.


Now you may understand why the CUPE strike is so important. If a Government Union can be forced to collapse, which worker is safe?

It may be that the CUPE-bashers will win this time around. It looks likely that they will since the workers being opposed are not the strongest or the best-paid and their leadership has acted in a pathetic manner so they cannot stand a prolonged strike. However the victory for Windsorites gloating over how they were crushed may well be a pyrrhic one.

What would be fascinating would be if the CUPE mmebers turn down a deal that their leadership brings to them since to many, the fight has become a personal one. We shall see.

Watch for a real shake up in the Union environment in Windsor when this strike is over!

  • Hello Everyone,

    June 15th 2009

    Chrysler Report

    Finally the merger of Chrysler and Fiat is complete so now the work begins as we have a new lease on life moving into the future. Aftersix long weeks of lay-off and some uncertainty, we can now breathe a little easier knowing we finally have a return-to-work date which will be June 29th. The plant is expected to start production on June 29th with all departments up and running.

    Things are still changing daily as management sorts out a number of issues ertaining to the resumption of production so I would like to express that what I report today is subject to change.

    The expectation is to run all three shifts for the first two weeks (June 29th and July 6th) clearing the 2009 units out of the system and filling the system with 2010 units. (But even that is still up for debate as suppliers push back on a three shift operation. So the running of three shifts starting June 29th may well change in the next few days.) The plant would then shut down for the normal two week period already scheduled (July 13th & 20th). We are uncertain as to what will happen to the third shift at this point, but we can tell you there is tremendous pressure from the supplier plants to reduce the third shift quickly. Most of the supplier plants have already reduced their third shift due to the cost savings and can no longer supply the demand for parts. So with that said, we suspect the third shift will be dismantled rather quickly but we will have to wait until the company confirms the reduction of a shift.

    Your plant committee is working on a mass posting season that certainly will be required in order to unwind the third shift. We will put more information out there once we get the timing down on some of the events. As for the buy-outs, we will continue to move forward with the janitor program seeing that it was well on its way, and then we will move into more senior buy-outs for the elimination of the SPA which is in the neighborhood of 185 more. Once we get confirmation of the third shift elimination we will begin discussions
    with the company for those buy-outs.

    Let me spend a minute on World Class Manufacturing (WCM) and the high priority it is becoming. The WCM is a Fiat manufacturing program which to be honest is their version of the Chrysler WOM program. In reality both programs are versions of the Toyota production system and companies have been attempting to take Toyota s system and reproduce it in their manufacturing facilities for years now. The difference between the old Chrysler version and the new Fiat system is the intensity in which Fiat is launching it. Fiat has launched the system in 300 plants around the world, all have their unique culture,
    and some are better than others.

    So with that said, you will see it and feel it the first day back to work and we will continue to give our members as much information about the new program as we can. I believe the more members know about the system the better the understanding.

    Last week the company brought the representatives in to roll out the new program. This week the company has brought in the leaders for training so as you can see they are moving quickly. The Fiat management has praised our plant for the work that has already been done in terms of the manufacturing system and believes we can be a world class plant.

    It is my opinion the manufacturing system can and does work; one only has to look at Toyota and see that they have been successful in using the manufacturing system to produce good quality vehicles. It takes a commitment from the entire management side and Fiat has stressed with us that they will remove the barriers in their way including members of management who do not change their old ways. I attended a meeting in London recently and the Fiat management in attendance stressed they have removed 100% of management in some facilities. So I look forward to working with the new management in a joint and renewed effort to make our plant a World Class Manufacturing Facility that will produce world class cars and trucks.

    In saying that I also expect the company to put as much emphasis on workers issues that clearly need to be addressed. The plant three representatives have expressed tremendous frustration over the payroll system which, quite frankly, is a mess. The company outsourced the payroll department to Jamaica over a year ago and since then we have continued to raise problems but to no avail. It has truly become unacceptable. We requested a meeting with the company last November and just recently met only to be given excuses as to why individual pay problems are occurring. We were also told it is not a WAP problem, that it is corporation-wide. This infuriated us because the company knows there are problems within the system but would rather ignore them in hopes they will go away.

    I have made it clear to the company we expect them to fix the payroll issues so we can become a world class manufacturing facility through and through. We will continue to monitor the progress and report back to the members.

    Casino Report

    As most of you know the passport program has come into effect as of June 1st 2009, and we are seeing the effects of it on the casino floor. It is concerning when we lose 20% of the business overnight. It reminds us of the smoking ban a few years back. The company has not yet called us to a meeting but I certainly expect one is coming. We are hopeful that most people will apply for their passport and business will slowly turn around. We expect the next couple of months to be a little busier as many summer events will be taking place.

    City Strike

    Unfortunately the City strike has gone on far too long and the end resolve may well be binding arbitration. After having some dialogue with the Mayor, Councilors, C.U.P.E. leadership and some of its members, it is very clear both sides are now stuck in the mud with no apparent way out. At C.A.W. we felt compelled to inform and clarify some of the issues that are responsible for this prolonged dispute that has our great city on the verge of destruction. C.A.W. has always been in the forefront of workers struggles and this strike is no different, so for the record we are in full support of C.U.P.E. members and their leadership. This is a C.U.P.E. fight not a C.A.W. fight but what it truly is, is an attack on working people in our community that must be defended.

    Make no mistake about it the Mayor is attacking workers and is clearly using the tactic of divide and conquer mentality which should not and will not be tolerated in this community. An attack on one worker is an attack on all working people so we must respond to the tactics of the Mayor. Eddie Francis defends his use of these tactics by suggesting all of the community is solidly behind him. It is imperative we send a strong message to the Mayor and city councilors that we cannot and will not tolerate their attacks on working class people. The divide and conquer tactic is clearly dividing our community and has created a very hostile environment for the bargaining process to work.

    The bargaining should have been left to those negotiating at the bargaining table; instead the bargaining is now taking place in our city parks and in the media. The Mayor has interfered with bargaining right from the very start of this process. Our city councilors are split on the resolve with no one willing to compromise their position, which is purely politics from their perspective. C.U.P.E. members are in confrontations daily with the general public some even finding themselves in confrontations that cannot be condoned by anyone in a leadership position. There have been a few incidents that certainly were not warranted by striking C.U.P.E members but we cannot condemn the entire C.U.P.E. membership for a handful of bad decisions by aggressive members.

    This strike is really all about retirement health care benefits and it is very clear the city is using the current recession to get at the benefits of the working people. But yet the Mayor and City councilors are entitled to benefits for life if they have served four terms in office and if they don t meet the required eligibility they can still purchase them at one half of the prevailing rate. Sounds like we have a two tier system already, one for the working class and one for the upper class!! The Mayor has recently been quoted, as saying the liability cost of post retirement benefits for all city workers is $291.1 million. What is not explained is this number of $291.1 million is for the benefits of all city workers including the Fire and Police departments along with many other city workers. The Mayor is also not telling you that they have already gone to arbitration with a smaller group of city workers (Huron Lodge Nurses) and attempted to take away their post retirement benefits but lost. The arbitrator ruled they must win the reduction of post retirement benefits through the bargaining process first, so in essence he is trying to take this opportunity of the current recession to get this accomplished even if he has to break the Union and split the citizens
    of Windsor.

    The post retirement benefits have long been a sore spot with companies and it has been a long standing principle of the Union to hold onto such benefits. Even in the latest round of bargaining with Chrysler, GM and the CAW, the companies were demanding our post retirement benefits. If the city is able to accomplish this task during this round of bargaining we can all rest assured the companies will be attacking all collective agreements with post retirement benefits. This would be the City s foot in the door; again it is all about breaking the will of working people. Most people are not even aware C.U.P.E. has recently moved off their original position and agreed to help pay for future hires health care benefits, but this is not good enough for the Mayor, he wants it all. Now that C.U.P.E. has compromised their position, you must ask yourselves, what are the Mayor and City Councilors doing to find some common ground in order to find a resolve? We need them to come to the table and both sides must be flexible or they will never reach an agreement.

    Ken Lewenza, Mike Vince and Rick Laporte met with Mayor Eddie Francis on the morning of Friday May 29th unfortunately it turned out to be a very short meeting but it was clear Mayor Francis was not interested in true negotiations nor was he interested in arbitration it seems he was only interested in his way or the highway. The problem now becomes much different as the Mayor indicated to us he was very disappointed with the picketers coming to his home. Mr. Francis has now declared war on these workers because they made the issue personal by picketing around his home. The Mayor s leadership is certainly questionable as we move into the future; you cannot take these issues personal without there being some lasting effects which will certainly interfere with the positive advancement of the City of Windsor.

    It is questionable as to what is being done with all the money that is being saved on this strike. The City of Windsor has the most productive garbage collection system in the province of Ontario, for every time the garbage truck stops in front of your home it cost 75 cents. Most residents are paying $1.00 a bag to dispose of their garbage. It took the Mayor seven weeks before he opened a place to drop off your garbage for free but was sure to direct the residents past striking members of C.U.P.E. first, just another union busting tactic being used by the Mayor and councilors of Windsor. The Mayor was quoted as saying the savings would amount to $300 thousand a month in city savings, he also claimed he would reimburse citizens their tax dollar savings at the end of the strike. We find it absolutely remarkable that the City of Windsor is going to charge citizens to ride on the Windsor transit system on fireworks nite unless a sponsor is found in light of all these savings the City is accumulating.

    The Mayor has been putting a spin on the strike since day one and again he is using the divide and conquer tactic not only with striking workers and citizens but all unionized workers in Windsor and Essex County. The Mayor has publicly announced that people should not be cutting the grass at parks or other city property but he has never enforced the city bylaw prohibiting the cutting of grass on public property. At best he has sent out mixed messages to the general public which in turn could certainly lead to a confrontation with workers. Is it done by design? Again the tactic of divide and conquer is hard at work here and they are trying to undermine the working class and we cannot tolerate these tactics. This Mayor and city councilors are leading us down the wrong path today and we will be hard pressed to see them leading us in the future. There is only one answer to this ongoing struggle and that is an independent arbitrator to come in and make the final decisions on unresolved issues. C.U.P.E. has already agreed to this process, the Mayor has absolutely refused to look at this option as a resolve. He will have you believe this is about controlling his own destiny, it s about a Windsor made solution , well a Windsor made solution is not about divide and conquer it s about building relationships with community partners.

    It is time to end this strike because if no resolve can be found soon, this struggle will only escalate further to the point of no return. Binding arbitration does not mean giving up the farm as the Mayor would have you believe, arbitration is a fair process using impartial third parties who have no vested interest with either side. The problem the city politicians will have if they allow it to go to arbitration is simple, they believe they will lose their bid to strip workers of post retirement benefits and then the public will question the legitimacy of a lengthy strike. This strike is not about bargaining a fair and equitable agreement it is about breaking the will of working people and their collective right to bargain an agreement that takes into consideration the future of working people.

    Please contact your city councilors now and insist they vote for binding arbitration for a resolve to the conflict. C.U.P.E. is prepared to allow an independent arbitrator resolve the outstanding issues but the Mayor and city councilors will not move from their position putting this entire city at future risk.

2 Baker's Dozens Of Mail


Here are more comments from readers. Have you submitted yours yet?

1) I just discovered your blog a few days ago. You appear to be the only alternative to the CBC, AM 800 and the Windsor Star. I teach at [Name of school] and in my class today I had the great opportunity to talk about political suicide, the Mayor's motion on Monday night. Your post yesterday was really great.

I don't know who is advising him, but he or she should be fired immediately....then again, you write that he acted on his own. And now I read you brilliant post on Halberstadt. Seems to be a political death wish virus going around!

And, I wonder what went on this afternoon at the in-camera meeting. Postma did not see very happy when she left. I wonder what this might mean at 9 AM tomorrow morning when negotiations start again?

2) [RE The Next Attack On CUPE] You sure you were not on the line today....that is exactly what we were talking about. We have so many temps on the line with us that they are truly fearful that once this strike is over....they are out of a job.

3) with Caroline Postma walking out of the "Mayor's meeting" I am certainly not optimistic...but I guess they are meeting again tomorrow with our people at 9 a.m.

By the way, ever thought of running for Councillor?

Just to let you know myself and my fellow picketers are thrilled with your blog. You report on everything accurately and we feel we have a true sounding board which we can rely on.

I appreciate your efforts and comments. Keep up the good work!!!!

4) You know Ed They are finaly doing what they supposed to be doing bargaining and its a media close out. Maybe the MAyor relises he is doing no good for the comunity
making everyone fight.

5) The strikers have said that now that they have lost 10 weeks pay and cannot get it back,they are prepared to stay out another 10 weeks. I think its become personal against Eddie.

They also said that they would like to wait until Toronto members go out on Monday and are ordered back by the goverenment and into arbitration. If that happens ,they would petition for the same treatment (probly get it).

One person i spoke to said that it would take 15 years to repair the damage that the Mayor has done to employee/employer relations.

All strikers i spoke to said that when they go back, they will do as little work as possible, and do everything by the book.

They will treat the taxpayer like they have been treated.

Doesn't sound or look good at all.

6) I just want to know if Mayor Francis can do anything right in your eyes? Obviously not - I guess your blog is OK, but I, myself, would like to see something that was even a little more unbiased.

Even now I fail to understand why anybody should have post retirement benefits at the tax payer's expenses - if you can get it from your private employer, go for it. And I don't believe your take on Monday's council meeting, nor (maybe) the Windsor Star's - I think it is somewhere in between. Poor Eddie - he's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

And by the way, I seem to recall it was CUPE members who wouldn't let citizens who were actually on the agenda speak at a recent council meeting, about issues far more important than future hires being covered for life on the backs of the tax payers.

7) Want an example of how this strike has affected my young child? He's
had nightmares the past few weeks and today he woke up and told me he
had a dream about a man cutting down trees and mowing the lawn and his
Dad grabbed the chainsaw and walked over to him and then they got into
a fight, then I woke him up so he wasn't sure what happened to his
Dad. These nightmares have been almost nightly. I'm sure many other
families are having their kids experiencing the strike, even if they
think they're not, this strike is not just about the "lazy"
city-workers. Many kids in this city are doing without, for many
different reasons and there's not enough people out there who can help
them. Lucky for me, I have a program at work to help with mental
health issues so I'm going to check it out for my son's sake. I'm
sure many other families can tell you similar stories or some even
worse. Thankfully, I don't have a child with special needs who needs
special help, I just have a stressed out kid and we've tried to
shelter him from all that we can.

8) Morning, why did you disable the comment section on your latest blog? Just a quick question?? Why didn't you write what the city workers are making per year? What there last wage increase were through out those years?

[NOTE: I disabled Comments years ago because certain people who were posting were making comments that were offensive and slanderous. I welcome reader comments and generally post them with the right to edit them as required.]

9)I guess the city's team went to council for direction this afternoon. From what I gather it must of been a heated meeting . Postma walked out before it ended. That is not a good sign... Things,and moral is getting tested on the line now. I know of a couple people that will probably lose their homes... Lots of us feel battered and beaten down. I guess that was Eddies stratagy.

10) cupe has no support for their actions, I hope jobs are cut, since cupe has shown less people are needed for the same work.

11) Hope this strike gets settled else in for a long and stinky summer- we can be the next New York City- smells just like it!

12) couldn't let your latest blog pass without commenting- as you may or
may not know I read your blogs every day and find them most enjoyable.

If you had been downtown Saturday night (were you?) you would
not have believed the size of the crowd- wall-to-wall people- felt
like New Orleans or Beale Street in Memphis.

Concerning the Henderson editorial, I thought he nailed it. .... but you have to
imagine how tough it is to be a merchant in downtown Windsor these
days- the strikers have really made it impossible for us to deal with
the trash- we already had enough issues that I could list ad nauseum-
(US passport, US dollar exchange, 9/11, SARS).

We are an easy target and it is killing us.

Ed- our businesses really are hanging on by their fingernails- Red
Bull was a huge lift- both psychologically and financially- for them.
Without Red Bull I am sure a lot of places would be done- they may be
done yet as I am hearing the American business is down to 15% from a
high of 65%, pre-9/11- economic Darwinism....

The real story of downtown is how zoning changes allowed the big boxes
and strip malls to surround our city and effectively kill retail in
the core. Any one parking lot between Provincial and old Highway 2 on
Walker has more shoppers than we see in a weekend!

Ed, that, as they say, is my two cents...

13) This weekend kick-off event has always been known as "Carrousel BY THE RIVER". All day long on Saturday, AM800 was calling out to residents to come on down to "Carrousel BY THE RIVER". We went down to look for them "BY THE RIVER"
and they weren't there! Were they another displacement for the Red Bull? Does the Multicultural Council realize that they may have been turned into second-class citizens? I guess that it must have cost them a pretty penny for new signage &
letterhead. Wonder what it will be called next year? "Carrousel BY THE CANAL"?

14) I do not have much hope in reaching a settlement. Did you watch CBC Windsor News at 6? Caroline Postma walked out of the negotiation update meeting and seemed quite angry. I think we're being set up for an MOL vote in a few weeks... This has become personal and political. Not your typical negotiation is it.

15) A reader sent me an article that started off like this:

"Rampant attendance exaggeration in the air show business is not a joke.
It’s not harmless or unavoidable. It’s not quirky or cute. It’s a serious
problem that threatens our industry’s credibility, invites public criticism and causes prospective sponsors and government officials to question not just attendance, but all other claims put forth by our industry.

Without so much as a wink or a smirk to acknowledge the irony of what they are
saying, air show professionals will often ask, “Do you want our no-kidding attendance
figures or what we tell the media?”

16) It occurred to me this morning that many people are talking about how well we're getting along without the city workers, with management filling the vacuum. It is obvious that management cannot replace thousands of inside and outside workers and that only very necessary things are getting done. Yet, we are managing to get along with this skeletal staff, by actually seeing to things ourselves.

As an example, in my neighborhood, a few doors down from me, a vacant lot was overgrown with grass and weeds and had not been attended to in months. Calls to the city were useless, since they pointed out that with the strike, they were stretched too thin to respond. Finally, my husband hunted down the property owner/caretaker himself and asked him to take care of it. And so he did, cutting the grass and restoring the hedges to some semblance of neatness.

The moral of the story is, I think, that we probably don't need all this city staff and management anyway...and there should be haircuts all around.When did we become so helpless that we cannot do for ourselves anymore?

17) Hi Ed

Is it just me or is the whole Red Bull economic impact (and even attendance) numbers overblown?

Here's my Saturday experience....

We went shopping in the states - crossed the Bridge at 12:30 - no wait either direction.
Returned at 5:50 pm - took the tunnel this time - same scenario. Literally no line up - pulled into the plaza and there was a back up of about 1 car per booth.

We went to see Huey Lewis at 9 p.m. - the show let out around 10:45pm - the Casino was noticeably not busy. We walked to the Keg for dinner and downtown looked dead. Pappa Cheny's had an overflow space with picnic tables in the parking lot - 5/6ths of which were unoccupied. Elias Deli on Ouellette was dead - 2 tables on the patio - 1 in the restaurant. Got to the Keg - the hostess told us it was one of the worse Saturdays they had in a while. I also checked online and Saturday at 6:30 pm (I was curious because of what we saw at the border crossings) - rooms were still available at both the Hilton and Caesars.

For $100,000,000.00 impact on the weekend - 100,000 people would have to spend $1000 a piece. Who are they kidding? Or am I completely missing something?

Keep up the great work - you're blog is one of the few sources in Windsor that tells the truth. The Windsor Star needs to either reform it's ways or go out of business.

P.S. As a side note - I believe the city should negotiate in good faith or arbotrate the CUPE strike. The fact that they have let it go this long (and impacted "Windsor on the world stage") is an embarassment.

18) Just wanted to say hello. I lost cable, internet and phone due to financial hardship so I was out of the loop for a bit. At least I got back internet, or I'd have lost my mind by now. I just caught up on all your blogs; thanks for quoting me, that was pretty cool. I am no longer naive, though. What can I say? You were right!

I've now lost my land phone, cable tv, taken my car off the road and have been issued an eviction notice. I'll probably be declaring bankrupcy in a month. I have also lost my naivety and faith in the bargaining system here... With hard work and determination, we both hope to get the hell out of the City, both the employment and the city itself, within months...

As you can tell, I am bitter and cynical. A fellow striker was saying on Friday..'What do you think about the good news? Francis is going to take an offer to 543..' Right, whatever. It's worth nothing until the signatures are on paper', I replied. It's nothing more than propaganda at this point.

Anyway, just wanted to check in. Your blogs are all I read now, no more Windsor Star. Thanks for listening to me grumble, no one else will..

19) Let the real Bull begin!

Red Bull had 290,000 viewers - $11 subsidy per person from the province.

Eddie said 42 jets landed at the airport - maybe 42 aircraft, most of them small light aircraft that they don't get landing fees from. The airport has been working for months on fixing the airport.

If they got 750,000 last year this is a dismal failure.

The finance minister said it generated $100 million. No wonder this province is so broke.

Meanwhile he's chasing Red Bull with a chequebook while hospitals close rooms due to lack of funding.

20) Just wanted to say thank you for your blog. I am an inside City Worker and find your blog a breath of fresh air in the garbage rotting City we call Windsor. It truly is the only form of news I care to consume at this time, I can't stand to watch or read or listen to the so called journalism being spewed to naive citizens of Windsor and Essex County.

I have cancelled my subscription to the Star and shame on me I didn't learn from the last time we cancelled the paper, when the teachers were on strike (my husband is a teacher).

I let as many people know about your blog as possible... you know tell a women, telephone.

It is not easy to be the constant center of negative attention and your blog has kept me sane over this long strike. I have been with the City for over {X} years and I have never felt more disrespected by an employer in my entire working career.

So to you Mr.Arditti, I say thank you for your humour and candor it is truly refreshing.

Myself and my fellow picketers will stay out as long as it takes, we will not be bullied into submission.

21) I am so confused


Windsor's Red Bull Air Race weekend was an "absolutely amazing" success, Mayor Eddie Francis said Sunday, and he's already lobbying for the city to repeat as the host of a stop on the 2010 international schedule.

Red Bull organizers reckoned 220,000 people watched the show from Windsor and another 70,000 looked on from Detroit, Francis said. Interesting that no figures given as to people who paid to watch. Also - I cant believe the 220,000 figure

Estimating that the event generated $100 million in economic activity, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan added that he's already planned to meet with Red Bull officials in Toronto in the coming days to discuss that possibility. How does he account for tis? What are his multipliers?

"Our hotels have been packed and our restaurants did very, very well," said Francis shortly after he was led on the arm of a Red Bull Girl to the winner's podium to present the second-place trophy to Austria's Hannes Arch. I undertand that the Holiday Inn downtown was full but that was with Red Bull staff. Also they stayed at the Raddison and Hilton - although did not take it over completely. Wonder how many actual visitors stayed

Francis said 60 aircraft landed at Windsor Airport over the weekend to unload international guests and another 50 were turned away because they were ineligible to land here."ineligble to land here" Not sure what the heck that means. Cant be because they were too big.

22) You're bang on. One slip - whether voluntary or not, I'm not certain. CUPE has known this agenda all along. We have all been informed since strike day minus 6 months that CUPE 543 & 82 were the scapegoats for the rest of the city services plus the nurses and caregivers at Huron Lodge as well as unionized nurses working for private employers who are arms-length from city services. The nurses at Huron Lodge recently went through arbitration. The arbitrator would not remove PRBs since the rest of city services had them. The Corporation was told that in order for arbitrators to remove PRBs from essential service workers, a negotiated removal of these benefits first had to occur with non-essential contract workers. Eddie and herd targeted us so that they could have this leverage.

Yes, CUPE has been having difficulty in getting it's message across. Two reasons. One - the traditional media and the fact that we can only buy space to tell our story (and underutilizing that as well). Two - we're being led by people with morals... Jean and Jim have been attempting to get the message out by playing by the rules...Is it any wonder why of 1200 people, one or two people have a "mental moment" and in frustration, tear up a bag of trash and scatter it all across a park? In the grand scheme of things, I would rather see someone get some frustration relief by tearing open a bag of garbage than to see that person take it out on a human or an animal.

Eddie was wrong in thinking the resolve of CUPE members, in whole, are weak. Yes, there are a number of members who will cry and complain to management and to Eddie himself... At our 543 information meeting a couple of weeks ago, in the crowd of about 400 (that's how many chairs were put out at the hall and there would only a dozen or so empty) there were only two people voicing concern and wanted to accept what the Corporation offered, with only about a dozen or so applauding in support. Multiply that response to better reflect those who may be intimidated to speak out and I would say that the majority is very strong in it's resolve. Personally, I have no concern about a supervised vote by the Ministry of Labour - the majority of the members are resolved to see the time that we have invested into this strike return a desired outcome for the workers.

Eddie and his tactics has actually been one of our biggest inspirations to continue the fight. This strengthens the resolve of the staunch unionists, those that have respect for others and care about people (many public sectors workers), and particularly the social services and childhood caregivers. Those three sectors make up the majority of our unions.

Personally, I am a one-income household. Luckily, only two cats are others in my home dependant on my income. I was in the private sector... This after seeing 55% of my retirement investments disintegrate in the course of two weeks, with apparently bad brokerage advice. So I applied and was hired on in the public sector. Even though I had to take a 40% pay cut, I wanted a job that was secure with benefits for retirement. Tell me I'm a fat cat city worker. I no longer get the bonuses and perks of the private sector. So from my perspective, I don't care if I go into debt for this strike. I'm looking for a secure retirement.

Yes, the PRB for new hires? Only a threat for those not yet employed? Nope. This PRB fight is for anyone who has more than ten years to retirement.

Thanks for reading, and thank you for discovering the truth about this mess. Not an easy task.

23) [Re Post Retirement Benefits: Temps, Women And Children First] Well stated mate! You should give yourself a pat on the back and the community at large 'owes' Mr Arditti a huge thank you.

24) [Re Post Retirement Benefits: Temps, Women And Children First]That would be what we've been trying to say all along. We are the first step for all across Canada!

Amazing isn't it? The Mayor has just picked the "weakest link".

25) Ed, Ed, Ed.... of COURSE CUPE knew what the plan was with the setting of precedent.... but who the hell other than our invaluable bloggers was listening, or for that matter, THINKING???

(I won't include "caring", because nobody did....)

our Sister Jean was marvellous when the Mayor called in to reprise his role in the Monty Python argument sketch....

she not only managed to get the mayor to admit that the $290m figure was for ALL city staff PRB's, not just CUPE's.... AND when she called him on his "I wasn't the mayor then" statement with regards to the Council vote that brought the councillors and the Mayor into the PRB plan."... she respectfully and firmly pointed out that WAS a councillor, and he supported the motion.

THAT'S why they don't DARE to simply amend the existing By-law. There would be two councillors who would either vote no, or have to declare a conflict of interest and refrain from voting.

That leaves 8 councillors, some who've been around long enough to qualify for their PRB plan...

remember that horrifying video of the raging cupe worker kicking trash??

of COURSE you do...

but have you SEEN anything about WHO took the video?

Grandparents, right?

Geez, I'm grandparent age and I haven't got a CLUE how to work a cellphone, let alone film with it...

oh, I am SURE that loving, tree-hugging grandparents would take their granddaughter to a riverfront park, during a bitter conflict, to pick up trash in knee-deep grass, trash which likely would consist of used condoms, hypodermic needles, broken glass, and god knows WHAT ELSE....

speaking of the granddaughter who the trash was being kicked AT.... I didn't see HER either - could her cries of distress POSSIBLY have been heard on a sound track?
(digital video DOES record with a soundtrack, I believe??)

And if the daughter of a union president could appear in the paper with her CHILD, WHY would these poor distressed grandparents NOT have been interviewed by SOMEONE in the mainstream media?????

They could have had their faces obscured, their voices altered... how much more IMPACTFUL would it have been to HEAR the poor child tell us how SHE felt???

hmmmm....

Surely THIS wasn't a SET UP?

Could there POSSIBLY have been someone SO INSIDIOUSLY EVIL to have goaded, taunted, and provoked someone to momentarily SNAP, hoping to capture such a moment for posterity???

OH, NO.... NOT IN WINDSOR... NOT IN THIS CORPORATE REGIME....

(and for the benefit of anyone who doesn't 'get' sarcasm...

I AM BEING SARCASTIC HERE!!)

Now I'm being serious - provoking folk to the breaking point and beyond is NOT an uncommon practice IN the City workplace... and look how EFFECTIVE it has proved to be outside the workplace, in the presence of cellphone camera video.

I guess all the extra security cameras didn't come through with the hoped-for negative footage... so, like the National Enquirer, if you can't GET a juicy story, MAKE ONE ....

If only those tech-savvy, nature-loving grandparents would have come forward elaborated on what actually happened that day....

Maybe someone would have had the nerve to ask them what they were THINKING, and why in god's name they would endanger their grandchild's health by taking her garbage-picking in tall grass, let alone at a picket site during a very bitter strike....

Maybe they could release an enhanced version of their footage, complete with the soundtrack???

And as for the Star's NON-coverage of the rally on Friday, well, NOTHING BAD HAPPENED.... ho-hum, people came to town, they brought emotional AND practical support to help CUPE to make it through this storm, they had a bbq, and then they went home.

IF they had marched down the Drive kicking garbage at little children, now THAT would have made page ONE!!

Ah, once again, I ramble and meander till way past bedtime...

26)Ive done some polling at the picket sites and the majority have said that they will vote down ANY offer eddie makes them.

They want arbitration.

The Next Attack On CUPE



I sure hope that CUPE has inserted job guarantee language if they settle their strike with the City to protect their jobs.

If not, expect slashing of positions soon thereafter

Can you imagine, being out on strike for so long and then being forced to fight again in 6 months or so, before the next Municipal election when politicians might be prepared to smack CUPE around again to gain a few votes!

Since Eddie looks up to Chicago's Mayor Daley, if he can do it, why can't Eddie. Don't forget too, that Daley received a ton of P3 money as well and still wanted to slash staff.
  • "Toronto ominously near the end of its fiscal tether

    Carol Wilding
    President of the Toronto Board of Trade


    Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, faced with a sudden budget deficit of $300 million as a result of shrinking revenues, asked civic unions to meet with him last Thursday to discuss a concessions package that included furlough days (the quaint American vernacular for unpaid days off) and a reduction in sick-time accrual.

    The unions boycotted the meeting. The next day, Daley sent layoff notices to 1,500 city workers.

    That may seem like a harsh move, but Daley is hardly alone. Across the United States, municipalities have been responding to the recession by taking urgent action to bridge their fiscal shortfalls, and the choice is always the same: The city can either cut dollars by reducing spending or it can cut bodies out of its workforce.

    Two weeks ago, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa passed a budget that included 1,200 layoffs, while remaining employees will have to take 26 furlough days each year.

    In New York last month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned of more than 3,700 layoffs in his upcoming July 1 budget. In subsequent negotiations, local union leaders agreed on a package that cut 900 jobs but saved 1,800 more. There are still 1,000 employees whose jobs still hang in the balance of negotiations. Management and labour have given themselves 90 days to save those jobs by reducing spending elsewhere.

    Meanwhile, here in Toronto, city council is staring at its own budget shortfall, estimated to be at least $350 million for the coming fiscal year.

    Worse still, our shortfall isn't a one-time occurrence due to the weak economy: the City of Toronto has for years suffered from a chronic structural deficit, relying upon injections of cash from Queen's Park to balance its budget every year.

    And yet, here in this city, Toronto's civic unions are threatening a strike that would halt garbage collection as soon as June 22.

    This is the way negotiations have always gone in recent years: strike threats and last-minute, round-the-clock bargaining. But this year's negotiations can't be routine. Both labour and management in Toronto have much to learn from what their U.S. counterparts are going through.

    Like those cities, Toronto simply does not have sufficient revenues to meet all its expenditures. There are many reasons for the shortfall, but the city's collective agreements are among them.

    Both the Board of Trade and the Mayor's Independent Fiscal Review Panel have pointed out the need to address the issue of the city's labour costs. As Toronto residents and businesses struggle to regain their financial footing during the recession, there is little appetite for tax increases. But there is scant public acknowledgment from the unions of the city's precarious finances.

    The time has come for the city's union leaders to recognize this reality. Queen's Park will run a deficit of $18.5 billion this year and is sending signals that it won't be able to provide another rescue bailout for Toronto. And no length of work stoppage will make either the province's ballooning deficit or the city's chronic fiscal shortfall disappear.

    Last Thursday, Mayor David Miller told reporters that "we need the workers and their representatives to understand the very difficult financial situation we have at the moment."

    It was a candid assessment from a mayor whose administration has typically avoided conducting its negotiations in public. Indeed, the mayor might want to follow the lead of his American counterparts and be even more forthcoming about the gravity of the city's finances.

    In U.S. cities, mayors make their case in public well in advance. They lay out the severity of their situation in the simplest terms. They explain the tough choices ahead: If the city wants to save jobs, it has to find new ways to save money. Then they invite the unions to be part of the solution.

    This approach also has the benefit of being transparent for all taxpayers, and gives public opinion a bigger say in the outcome.

    In New York, the unions came to the table, and for every job that was lost at least two were saved. In Chicago the unions refused to bargain. So far, they have 1,500 pink slips to show for it. In every case, the city's fiscal sustainability is everybody's top priority.

    In Toronto, no one knows what the outcome will look like. But unless it takes some bold steps toward a more sustainable fiscal footing, both parties may find themselves bargaining again in six months time, when it's clear no one can afford the deal they signed. "

Gee, doesn't Toronto's Mayor, David Miller, have Eddie now as his precedent!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Poof, There Go Alan's Chances


I doubt that Councillor Alan Halberstadt was going to run for Mayor. But if he was thinking about it, that thought should now be gone forever.

It's too bad considering that people, especially the Star, can now see how anti-Democratic our Mayor's actions are although they still have not dealt with his shocking action of introducing a Motion at the last second so Windsorites cannot appear as Delegations and speak to Council:
  • "Instead, Francis blindsided councillors, who were justifiably upset with being asked -- without prior notification -- to publicly discuss a measure affecting their golden years' compensation...

    With the strike entering its 10th week, this not the time for His Worship to engage in impulsive, risk-taking behaviour. Francis rolled the dice and lost."

With Council voting against him, CUPE now has a legitimate position to attack the City's hypocrisy! Eddie just undercut the City's position completely.

Typical Eddie. So good at planning. So poor on execution.

The vote made Councillors look like idiots. Council has been put in an impossible position. They can only blame one person for the failure now: Eddie Francis.

Just watch Eddie try to save his bacon by saying he did that on purpose so that he could reach a compromise settlement with CUPE. Hmmm maybe he really is going overseas soon.

No matter how much good work he has done and how he has stood up for citizens, Councillor Halberstadt's action last night at Council will haunt him politically forever. Never mind that he was being honest about it, he is done. He voted in his own self-interest, told everyone about it, tried to justify it and was proud of it:
  • "People have been asking me why I voted as I did last night with regard to Councillors receiving post-retirement benefits after age 65. I opposed the motion by Mayor Francis when it went far beyond what the city is asking of CUPE, which is the elimination of PRBs, for new hires only. The mayor's motion would have eliminated PRBs for existing Councillors, including mine.

    The current policy makes Councillors who have served four terms on Council eligible to pay half the premium for PRBs when they reach 65. Since I am serving my fourth term, I would be eligible for this benefit when the current term ends in November of 2010.

    The family coverage for my wife and I costs $392.83 per month in today's dollars. If I cared to take advantage of the half-price policy when I am 65, it would cost $197.42 per month...

    Now I am a long-serving Councillor and I don't mind telling anyone who asks that I have worked my ass off over the last dozen years, putting in hours far in excess of the 37.5 hours per week of our CUPE employees. So I make no apologies for my vote. "
It did NOT eliminate the benefit. It just increased the cost. Big difference. Moreover, unlike an employee who leaves before retirement, if Alan leaves Council before he retires, he still keeps the benefit.

As Anne Jarvis wrote as well:
  • "Two councillors -- Alan Halberstadt and Fulvio Valentinis -- are serving their fourth terms. They'll be eligible for these benefits next year.

    That's why Halberstadt voted against the motion, he admitted.

    He doesn't have retirement benefits. These benefits cost almost $400 a month, and he'll only have to pay $200.

    "I'd like the option," he said.

    "They're very good benefits."

He certainly sounds like a CUPE member to me. I am sure they can talk about how hard they work too and why they are striking in their self-interest.

  • "DO NOT TAKE AWAY A BENEFIT. THEY'RE VERY GOOD BENEFITS."

In the circumstances, given how he thinks, the Councillor has no choice now but to vote for binding arbitration if the negotiations fall apart. His position and that of CUPE are no different re existing benefits no matter how much he is trying to pretend they are!

I just do not get it. Alan claimed
  • "The other component of the mayor's motion, eliminating any newly-elected Councillors from post retirement benefits, meets with my approval."
Anne Jarvis again states:
  • "So on Monday night, Mayor Eddie Francis tried to get council to eliminate the benefits for politicians."
All I heard was the change from 50% payment to 100% payment. The PRBs remains even for newly-elected Councillors. The provision would now change in this manner only based on what the Mayor said:

BEFORE
  • 5. That the provision for 100% retirement medical benefits BE MADE AVAILABLE to the Mayor and Members of Council in accordance with the City’s existing criteria for staff retiree benefits, provided that the member of Council has served a minimum of four (4) terms; and further that where a Council Member has served a minimum of four (4) terms in office but does not meet the required retiree eligibility for retiree benefits, that member be afforded the opportunity to purchase the retiree medical benefits at one half of the prevailing rates as may be adjusted from time to time

AFTER

  • 5. That the provision for 100% retirement medical benefits BE MADE AVAILABLE to the Mayor and Members of Council in accordance with the City’s existing criteria for staff retiree benefits, provided that the member of Council has served a minimum of four (4) terms; and further that where a Council Member has served a minimum of four (4) terms in office but does not meet the required retiree eligibility for retiree benefits, that member be afforded the opportunity to purchase the retiree medical benefits at 100% of the prevailing rates as may be adjusted from time to time.

The "existing criteria is:"

  • "When an employee retires with an unreduced pension in accordance with the OMERS pension requirements, the City continues to pay the same health and medical benefits on the employee’s behalf until their death and until the death of their surviving eligible spouse and dependants.
Newly-elected Councillors still get PRBs. As I read it, if elected 4 times and they retire, they still get them at no cost. Or at the least, they have to pay something to get them.

Settle the darn strike already. The City has no position after the Mayor's huge faux pas. We need to get back to straight-forward matters. Like the border file or the canal.

Windsor Is Rolling In Dough


We actually do not need any bread here.

Except Windsorites do not really understand it! It is being hidden from us because of the CUPE strike and the Firefighter arbitration I would guess where the City is crying poverty.

Compare these 3 stories and see what I mean.

WINDSOR STAR:
  • "Windsor received more than those other municipalities because it asked for more, said Francis, and because it has been devastated by unemployment, setting a national high this month with a rate of 14 per cent. As well, Windsor was in a position to pay for more projects under the infrastructure program, which requires a one-third contribution from participating municipalities.

    "Given the choice in terms of being the city that received the most or the city having the highest unemployment rate, I would rather not be in that situation," said Francis before Monday's council meeting.

    "But, unfortunately, we are in that position and receiving the type of assistance that we're getting from the federal and provincial government will go a long way to help us reposition our economy."

LONDON FREE PRESS:

  • "In Windsor, though, Francis says his council was prudent and wise, too.

    While his city plans to spend about one-third more on public works over two years than will be done in larger London, Francis says not a penny will be borrowed.

    To do anything less wouldn't be right in a city where jobless rates have led the nation for several years, Francis said.

    "We've been knocked down to the ground," he said.

    So how can Windsor afford to do much more than London without borrowing a dime?

    Francis says his city in the past five years has accomplished what seems an insurmountable task: Eliminate borrowing for public works while doubling what's spent on those works, all while keeping tax increases among the lowest in Ontario.

    "That's unheard of among municipalities," he said."

Gee, do you think the Firefighters' lawyer was right after all:

  • "City of Windsor spending big while crying poor, arbitrators told

    WINDSOR, Ont. -- The city is pursuing lavish projects like a $70-million arena and a $50 million canal for downtown while crying poverty during contract negotiations with local firefighters, a panel of arbitrators was told Monday.

    “If there was a dark cloud, you’d think they would batten down the hatches,” said Bill Cole, an Ottawa lawyer representing 301 members members of the Windsor Firefighters Association who have been without a contract for more than three years.

    “They have done just the opposite. You can’t suggest an inability to pay and then build a $50-million canal.”

This Little Piggie Got Roast Beef



Or rather lamb chops if they are Part-Time Members of Windsor City Council.

New CUPE hires get none.

As the Mayor reminds us. He is the only full-time Member of Council.

I do not understand the first paragraph in the Star story about what happened at Council the other night.
  • Bid to eliminate post-retirement benefits for city politicians falls flat

    Mayor Eddie Francis’s bid Monday to do away with post-retirement benefits for politicians drew an angry response from union leaders representing striking city workers.”

That never happened as far as I remember.

Neither did this:

  • "Francis sought a motion to get rid of post-retirement benefits for elected officials.”

Here is the shocker though. If Eddie cannot get his own Councillors to give up their post retirement benefits, and they refuse to do so after a public vote, how can he dare have the nerve to ask workers to do so!

Here is what really happened as far as I know. When Eddie was a Councillor he voted in favour of the following Resolution. It’s pretty generous don’t you think:

  • CR617/2003

    Whereas the Mayor and members of Council have not had a salary increase since 1991; and,

    Whereas the savings to the City of Windsor has been approximately $440,000 representing the Consumer Price Index for cost of living for the years 1991 to 2003, with an acknowledgement of the period 1993 to 1996 being “Social Contract” years whereby legislation prohibited cost of living adjustments; and

    Whereas the role of the Committee to Review Council Compensation and Benefits (“The Blue Ribbon Committee”) is to review salary, benefits and the matter of assistance to City Council and not to judge performance; and,

    Whereas the municipal electorate serves as the judge of job performance for municipal councils,

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the remuneration paid to the Mayor and Members of Council BE ADJUSTED as follows:

    1. i) effective January 1, 2004, the base salary for members of Council is to be $28,234 representing the current base salary plus 50% of the cost of living indices not previously applied for the years 1991 to 2003 (less Social Contract years); and the base salary for the Mayor to be $85,275 representing the current base salary plus 75% of the cost of living indices not previously applied for the years 1991 to 2003 (less Social Contract years); with no further cost of living increase to be considered until 2005;

    2. That the one-third tax free remuneration paid to the Mayor and Members of Council BE RETAINED for the term of Council commencing December 1, 2003.

    3. That the financial policies enacted by the Corporation governing municipal employees including, but not limited to, travel and business expense, automobile allowances, as amended from time to time, continue to apply to the Mayor and Members of Council.

    4. That provision for healthcare benefits available to City staff BE MAINTAINED for members of Council as follows:

    Health Benefits – Green Shield – present provider
    Dental
    Vision
    Drug
    Extended Health
    Out of Province
    Audio
    Nursing Home
    Semi-Private

    5. That the provision for 100% retirement medical benefits BE MADE AVAILABLE to the Mayor and Members of Council in accordance with the City’s existing criteria for staff retiree benefits, provided that the member of Council has served a minimum of four (4) terms; and further that where a Council Member has served a minimum of four (4) terms in office but does not meet the required retiree eligibility for retiree benefits, that member be afforded the opportunity to purchase the retiree medical benefits at one half of the prevailing rates as may be adjusted from time to time

Take a look at paragraph 5 above. All that happened last night was that the amount of “one half of the prevailing rates” would have been changed to 100% of the prevailing rates.

Post retirement benefits would not disappear for Councillors. All that would happen would be that in one case they have to pay for them at the full rate rather than at 50%. Everything else remained the same.

Sure, sure, sure, that they would have to pay more but they are not losing the generous benefits that a Group Plan would provide or something that an individual would have to buy in the marketplace if there even was such a plan available. If it was, it would not be at a comparable cost that is for sure.

But it is more than that. A Councillor who leaves office before retirement age is entitled to keep the benefit. Unless the City plan differs from most others, an employee who leaves is NOT entitled to do so

  • "When an employee retires with an unreduced pension in accordance with the OMERS pension requirements..."

Take a look at the generous benefits a Councillor gets in Sections 2, 3 and 4 when elected to office. It looks like they get the benefit immediately. Not a bad deal.

Of course, we saw another attack on Windsor Democracy because the Mayor is afraid to let citizens appear at Council to speak. It appears a number of Councillors are afraid too. I guess they really do not want to know what people think.

The Procedural By-law rules were waived again and a Motion was introduced by surprise at the end of the Meeting by the Mayor.

The Mayor claimed:

  • “Francis later told reporters the idea to seek a repeal of the post-retirement benefits for elected officials, approved in a council bylaw in 2003, came to him earlier that day.”

Gee, I thought it was because a Councillor raised a similar concept first in an email that was circulated to all Members of Council earlier.

Eddie is so forgetful. He only voted for those benefits a few years ago and did not think that it might offend the CUPE members during a strike.

Councillor Hatfield this time around at least asked that people in attendance at Council be allowed to speak on what the Mayor proposed. However, the Motion to defer was defeated. Accordingly, Windsorites lost the chance again to appear in front of Council.

Eddie’s Motion was lost so that Councillors are still in the same position as before. In other words, nothing changed.

It was nothing but a cheap grandstanding trick that failed again. It has generated nothing but hostility. It achieved nothing more than helping to doom Eddie’s version of “negotiations.”

I noticed one thing in the story though that encouraged me:

  • "Francis added that he would never be drawing such benefits in any event."
Does this mean that Eddie is not running for Mayor again? Or does it mean he is merely not going to pay the cost for the PRBs?