Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Poker PRB Style

Unfortunately, even if the Mayor, Council and CUPE all agreed to remove them, PRBs are still on the table! It is vital to CUPE members who have lost millions in salary to understand all the ramifications around the issue that the Mayor has said is the threshold one. It may not be a "benefits" issue any longer but it may well have a consequence that has not been completely appreciated so far. Read on

I have written quite a number of BLOGs on the CUPE/City strike, too many actually. Oh to be able to write a border BLOG again [sigh].

Most people I thought understood that I have not taken a postion on what either side wants or who is right or wrong for the simple reason that neither side has ever revealed publicly exactly what they have offered!

That is why this letter I just received from a loyal reader bothered me so much and I thought I needed to explain again what I perceived my role to be. I am choosing to do so over the issue of PRBs, the
threshold issue according to the Mayor, as an example of my Blogging technique on this file:

  • "I have read and enjoyed your blog for two or three years and I have admired your efforts to expose the M.O. of His Arrogance, Mayor Francis and his enablers at the Windsor Star.

    However, as a persistent critic of Mr. Francis, I must confess that I like the manner in which he has dealt with on-going strike mounted by CUPE as I find no redeeming features in the strategies and tactics of the Union. In my view they represent everything that is wrong with unionism in general and public service unions in particular.

    I worry that you have gone over to the Forces of Darkness and become the Voice of CUPE.

    CUPE is undeserving of your support."

Gosh, I felt like Darth Vader after reading that!

Clearly, I have not done a good enough job of defining my role in the mind of at least one reader. I take legitimate criticism seriously and try to improve.

I can understand why my reader takes this perspective. Naturally, since the bias of the Star is so one-sided, and to be blunt, where I get most of my information other than scoops from inside sources, most of my commentaries tend to reflect a pro-CUPE perspective to try to balance out what is said, especially the propaganda spewing forth from the City.

People seem to forget that I have been very critical of CUPE leadership, accusing them of lack of strategy and not doing a good enough job of getting the public onside nor pressuring the City or our MPPs sufficiently.

Nevertheless, I will try and redeem myself. I will try to ensure that readers understand, unless I choose to set out a position, that my function is to point out the story behind the story---the stuff the media does not always talk about--- why things are being done or said or not and what the consequences are. I also try to put a different "spin" on matters to get you thinking about alternatives.

I am going to do so in the context of the Post Retirement Benefits issue even though Jean Fox has just said they are "off the table" whatever that means since it is not clear.

I will give you some insight into how I think when I consider a problem and how I arrive at the conclusions I do when I write a BLOG. I warn you now that my conclusions may be considered pro-CUPE so those of you who do not have the stomach to see someone supposedly supporting union workers should stop reading now. I am not pro or anti-CUPE or the City but going where my thoughts lead me as you shall see.

The following is from the City Strike Website on PRBs. I am going to "fisk" it and then draw some conclusions from it.

Just to make it clear as well, I am NOT expressing a legal opinion one way or the other and no one should rely on my discussion other than as a thought provoker. The issues are very serious and advice from people experienced in the area is needed.

That does not mean that I or anyone else should remain silent because there are matters that need addressing if an informed conclusion is to be reached.

  • What Are Post Retirement Benefits?

    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.

    Post retirement benefits deal only with ongoing health benefits after retirement. Pensions are not post retirement benefits and are described on the pension page.


    City of Windsor employees receive post retirement benefits through a by-law that was established by City Council in 1950. Retirement benefits have never been part of CUPE’s collective agreements nor have they ever been negotiated.

    [If the PRBs have never been part of the collective agreement, then why was it a "Threshold issue" in a collective bargaining situation that had to be negotiated now, after almost 60 years? A practice and code of procedure had been ongoing for so much time that people relied upon as being a City worker. Why was it being discussed at all? Should it ever have been "on the table" in the first place?

    Of course, the City has the right as does the Union to make matters a collective bargaining issue but were they legally entitled to do so? See below where I say they could not in this case.

    Presumably, all that the City should have done is merely amend the by-law as Eddie tried to do with the Councillors PRBs, a Motion he lost. Does this mean that Eddie knew that Councillors would NOT have amended the by-law?

    If it was a simple amend the by-law issue, then why didn't Council just do it? One would have to make the assumption that the City has received a legal opinion telling them they cannot do so! That is why it was not amended and why it became a collective bargaining issue.

    As I argued before, given Eddie's Motion loss and the confimation of the Councillors' By-law, he could now not change the By-law for the employees. The City was legally estopped from doing so.]

    Retirement benefits are extended to employees who are eligible, and their spouses and dependants for life.

    Post Retirement Benefits
    UPDATED MAY 13, 2009

    The City is offering that all current CUPE regular full-time employees, as of December 31, 2008 maintain the status quo. These employees including all current retirees remain eligible for retiree benefits, as negotiated, for life under the existing eligibility rules. The City has never proposed to eliminate these benefits or cap them at age 65 for existing regular full-time employees at any stage of the collective bargaining.

    [Again, why is it a collective bargaining issue given it is a by-law issue. The City made it so because we have to assume they cannot change the employee rights under the By-law.

    It is the existing PRBs that are the big financial hit for the City today, not future benefits. "The City has never proposed to eliminate these benefits." Is that because this step is coming next and the City is taking it one step at a time (and holding off a possible S&P downgrade) or is it really because the City has a legal opinion saying that they cannot do so and therefore do not even try it! Who knows?]

    For further clarification, members of CUPE Local 543 who are temporary full time employees of the Corporation and were hired on or before December 31, 2008 and having maintained continuous service to the Corporation notwithstanding the mandatory break in service, obtain a regular full time position with the Corporation, and subsequently complete their probationary period shall be entitled to retiree benefits, upon their retirement if so eligible as per the OMERS eligibility requirements for an unreduced pension which are in place at the time of retirement.

    [For example: If a current employee is a temporary full time employee and was hired on or before December 31, 2008, they will still qualify for life time benefits if and when they become a regular full time employee with continuous service, upon their retirement if so eligible as per the OMERS eligibility requirements for an unreduced pension which are in place at the time of retirement.]

    Additionally, members of CUPE Local 543 who are regular part time employees of the Corporation and were hired on or before December 31, 2008 and obtain a regular full time position with the Corporation and subsequently complete their probationary period shall be entitled to retiree benefits, upon their retirement if so eligible as per the OMERS eligibility requirements for an unreduced pension which are in place at the time of retirement.

    The City has proposed the new employees of both locals, hired on or after January 1, 2009 would be eligible for post retirement benefits to age 65 if so eligible as per the OMERS eligibility requirements for an unreduced pension which are in place at the time of retirement.

    The City recognizes the concern that the Unions have regarding the security of the post retirement benefits held by their current members and the potential risk that these benefits could potentially be bargained away in future collective agreements. To satisfy this concern the City has sought legal advice regarding how to protect these benefits for current employees and has received a framework and language to achieve this protection. The framework consists of:

    a) A separate contract with the Corporation outside of the collective agreement to which the local and the national union would be parties;
    b) Separate contracts with each individual current employee hired before January 1, 2009 and as described above, which would provide appropriate security.

    [I must admit that I find this astounding! Here is one Council going out of its way to bind subsequent Councils forever. Unbelievable.

    There was an issue at Council last week I believe where an issue arose which could bind subsequent Councils and Eddie ruled it out of order! Yet here he is prepared to do so.

    The absurdity of this is that he has bound the City to unfunded liabilities of about $290M and perhaps more as time goes on for existing employees even if new hires do not get the PRBs. Is that fiscally responsible at a time of the City's supposed economic distress?

    Again, why wasn't a simple by-law amendment proposed to take the PRBs away from new hires? Why did we have to go through a strike to accomplish this?

    Here is something even more strange. When has anyone ever heard Eddie conceding anything to anyone? Even if a subsequent Council and the Union down the road agreed to eliminate PRBs for EVERYONE, they could NOT do so for employees under what Eddie proposed because each would have a separate and enforceable contract with the City. The City would have to negotiate with each employee. Again, something that makes no sense.

    Now believe it or not , the world is logical. If there is something so completely illogical as what I have described, then one needs to figure out the reason why.

    My conclusion---the City has a legal opinion that they cannot even do so under their existing by-law. They are pretending to give the Union and the employees something they already have! In other words, the City is offering nothing, the sleeves out of their vest. The employees already have the legal rights that the City is offering.

    They may even have a legal opinion as well that there may be no way that they can teminate those rights, even by giving notice, because they cannot act unilaterally in this specific case.

    Here is another point. Under Eddie's plan, the Union could not negotiate away the employees' PRB rights since they have a separate legal contract with the City and the City would even give the Union a separate agreement outside of the collective agreement.

    What this says to me frankly, is that the Union TODAY may not be able to negotiate away any employees' rights even if it wanted to do so. I have an idea why this cannot be done but I am not certain and it does not really matter. It does depend on the wording of the by-laws, all of which I have not seen. If I am right, the City has NO power to terminate the employees rights. They are vested forever. Perhaps even, and this is really stretching it, for new hires!

    If the City has no right to negotiate this and the Union has no right to negoatiate this, then it could never be a collective bargaining issue ever and never should have been discussed at all. It could not be an issue, never mind a threshold issue ever.]

    A copy of this framework and language was previously provided so that it may be fully vetted by the Union. Draft contracts with employees will be provided upon agreement of this issue.

    To alleviate any further concern in this regard, the City has offered to include this language protection in any documentation the Union wishes including; bylaw, the Collective Agreement, the above noted contracts, the negotiated Minutes of Settlement, and any or all of the above.

    [See above. Completely out of character! Can you say desperation?]

    The City is willing to establish a joint Benefits Administration Committee with representatives from CUPE Locals 82 and 543, to determine and finalize the mechanism under which any employee funded post age 65 retirement benefits plan will be administered.

    Benefits for existing retirees are not impacted by the proposed change for new employees.

    Any net savings from active employees and/or existing retirees derived from benefit changes that the Union wishes to put forward (for example, an increase in co-pay, sick day reduction or any other reduction) can be allocated towards an employee self-funded post age 65 retirement benefit plan for employees hired on or after January 1, 2009.

So there you have what the City says and why what they said bothers me.

To be blunt, are we seeing a game of poker being played? It may well be that the City is bluffing completely with nothing in its hands except taxpayer money to try and crush the Union and to take away rights that CUPE members have already without anyone being any the wiser. They may believe that CUPE has not obtained proper legal advice on their position and does not know how strong or how weak their position is.

Or could it be that I am completely wrong and the City is holding a royal flush and CUPE should take the deal or else risk getting a by-law change and losing everything even for existing workers?

Remember how Eddie acted out of the blue with his Motion and took Councillors by surprise. Remember, he and the Star characterized what he was doing was removing benefits for politicians, although it was not. Is he really hoping that the Union turns him down so he can hammer them later and say that he offered them complete protection and they turned him down. Reverse Psychology?

Could it be that there is a 2-step process under way here too for the City as it is for taking away fire and police benefits? Take PRBs away from new hires even though there may be no legal right to do so and then amend the By-law for existing employees or take PRBs away in the next round of negotiating (no wonder the City wanted only a 2-year deal). Everyone would think that the City had the right to do so since a precedent had been set and no one would question it, certainly not a single worker who could not afford the legal fees. And the Union would probably be estopped if it agreed in this negotiating round.

I am not a labour law lawyer and do NOT have the answers to the issues I have thought about nor do I have the documentation or the complete factual background of any of the negotiations to date. I do know that there are interesting issues at play over by-laws, collective agreements and contracts. I certainly do know some of the questions to ask at least.

From the workers' perspective, CUPE should have a legal opinion in its hands over these matters already to know on a reasonable basis what is right and what is wrong. If not, well, I will let you dear reader, figure out what the consequences could be for the Union if they act improprly.

What are the consequences if I am right and the City never had a position. Here are the most obvious ones:

  • 1) existing and newly hired workers have PRBs forever and the rights cannot be terminated. The bluffery has poisoned relationships such that the issue can never be resolved honourably.
  • 2) if the PRBs, should never have been on the table, then why was it the issue that has kept the workers out for so long
  • 3) if it could never have been a collective bargaining issue, why was it raised
  • 4) Is this now bargaining in bad faith
  • 5) If it is, have employees improperly been deprived of millions of dollars of salary.

Is it any wonder that the City wants the bad faith negotiating action removed! Darn, we would be deprived of Eddie being cross-examined. If CUPE agrees to that term, then I will absolutely oppose the Union! Just kidding.

If I am right in what I am saying , and I am not suggesting that I am at all, or if I may be right, then all I know is that this is a total mess that could give rise to massive litigation that could take years to resolve. What happens to the City and its employees then?

My view: the contract issues other than PRBs, must be resolved now. Once they are, the strike is over but for the PRBs which must be handled separately.

Like it or not, the City, the Union and the employees individually, through a separate negotiating unit not their Union, may have to resolve the issue since the City and the Union may not be able to do so on their own if employees already have individual rights. What is needed now is open and honest discussion about how to resolve this as happened at the Windsor Public Library.

The issues of TRUST and RESPECT cannot be swept under the table as Councillor Valentinis has tried to do to try and shield the Mayor and take the heat off of his dumb actions. That will be the subject of another BLOG. Without those elements, who knows where we will be.

To my reader above, I hope you understand me better now. May the Force be with us!

Friday, July 17, 2009

CUPE Voting Results

CUPE members reject the offer presented by the City of Windsor
July 17, 2009

WINDSOR, Ont. – Yesterday, members of locals 82 and 543 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) were voting on an offer presented by the City of Windsor. After the final count, 77 % of local 82 members rejected the offer and 85 % from local 543 also voted against the City's proposal.

Jim Wood, president of local 82, hopes this outcome will convince the City to bargain seriously: “Our membership just sent a clear message to Mayor Eddie Francis”, stated Wood. “Our workers are ready to return to work but not under any condition. The City is asking for major concessions and offering nothing in return. We have been fighting for fourteen weeks and this should finally make the City understand we are not giving up.”

After some of the events that took place on Wednesday, where management members were handing out flyers to members waiting to vote, Wood was upset at the City's attitude: “At the moment, we are discussing with our legal counsel the possibility of filing an unfair labor practice. These tactics from the Mayor have to end. He's the one who provoked the continuation of this strike.”

After the vote, Jean Fox, president of CUPE local 543, was pleased by the support of her membership: “Today we sent a clear message to council members: Start bargaining seriously”, said Fox. “We need to resolve the strike as quickly as possible and resume services for the citizens of Windsor. Our members showed today how serious they are about fairness and respect. It's now time for Mayor Eddie Francis and Council members to step up to the plate. The two locals are committed to returning to the table but the City will have to be serious in getting an agreement and offer a fair package that addresses our members concerns. ”

CUPE local 82, representing outside workers, have been on strike since Wednesday, April 15th. Their colleagues of local 543, the inside workers, joined the picket line on Saturday, April 18th.

We Are 26 Out Of 31

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Too bad that there is not a category of worker morale.

Reality check...It makes a mockery of City Hall's claims that this City is being well-run. But then again, we did not need Macleans to tell us that. Just nice to get the confirmation.

How will they blame this on BLOGGERs?

BLOGEXCLUSIVE: Who Screwed Councillor Marra

Oh my goodness. We do not need a canal in Windsor. There is a flood of information coming to me anonymously these days from plain brown envelopes in the mail to anonymous emails that cannot be traced.

If you think that there is little Respect for CUPE workers after the Protocol fiasco, then one wonders what Respect there is for Councillors with another Protocol fiasco that has not yet been reported.

And it is all directed to perhaps Eddie's opponent for Mayor if Eddie chooses to run again, Bill Marra.

In the midst of the CUPE strike, a nice way to use the strike to try to destroy the Councillor. Someone is a good planner and knows how to take advantage of a situation it would appear.

Let me explain.

Here is the relevant section of the CUPE 543 Protocol as sent out by the City:
  • 4. The Union will sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the Corporation agreeing to employ youth aged 15 to 18, under the Government of Ontario – Ministry of Children and Youth Services – New Beginnings – Summer Jobs for Youth Initiatives.

I must admit I did not think much of it. What that had to do with the strike issues I had no idea.

I assumed that there must be some Government program entitled "New Beginnings." I knew that Bill Marra was the head of a Windsor organization by that name but I thought it was a mere co-incidence.

Until I received this note from a CUPE member amongst several others I received who made similar comments:

  • "one last thing before I go to bed ... bill marra is on committee with new beginnings ... take a look at the contract offer ... seasonals will not be brought back with full timers but will wait at home for a call that will never come ... their work would be done by the 15-18 year olds from new beginnings for 10 bucks an hour and no benefits ... courtesy of bill marra."

Oh, oh I thought, Bill's career is toast as a Windsor politician. He is hurting CUPE workers and they will take it out on him down the road as their political action committee forms up. He must have seen and approved the Protocol.

Until I received this anonymous email from a reader.

It was a copy of an email that was sent out by Councillor Marra. Oh, by the way, I am told by another source that "Cedar, Preston" is actually "Eddie Francis." Not a good choice of pseudonyms since Cedar is his daughter's middle name. How silly but maybe not after the Detroit text messaging scandal:

  • "From: Marra, Bill []
    Sent: July 16, 2009 2:29 PM
    To: Skorobohacz, John; Reidel, Helga; City Council; Cedar, Preston
    Subject: Back to Work Protocol

    I was just notified by one of my employees that the Back to Work Protocol for Locals 82 & 543 is posted on the Windsor Star website and in the protocol there was specific mention of New Beginnings, our Ministry, and our Summer Jobs for Youth Program. At no time did anyone contact myself, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services or my Board of Directors. Our agency and the Ministry should have been consulted. The 2009 Summer Jobs for Youth Program is not relevant to this labour issue. We hired and placed all 260 youth last month at 101 different locations. And to aggravate this situation further, why would anyone insert the name of an agency of which a sitting City Councillor is responsible to operate, under these circumstances?? I certainly hope that this was not purposeful. I am required to report this to our Regional Office - my Ministry requires that I report all local media coverage related to them and/or our agency.

    Bill Marra"

It was clear that Bill had not seen the Protocol in advance of it being sent and that Councillor Hatfield probably had not from the email I posted the other day that had a time on it after it was sent to CUPE.

Who was responsible for putting together the Protocol? Clearly some Councillors never saw it before it went out. Someone on Council had to approve it I am sure. Can you guess who that person must be? Someone should demand the answer.

  • "not relevant to this labour issue... I certainly hope that this was not purposeful."

Yeah right! Who will have to fall on the sword for this one?

I wonder if it was payback for someone putting forward Bill's name rather than the Mayor's to be a member of the Undevelopment Commission Board? (BTW, Eddie won and will stay on longer than the 6 months that the Council Motion set out originally. How that can be done procedurally, I have no idea!)

Or was it nothing more than an attempt to destroy Marra's strong labour base before he even announced that he was going to run for Mayor. Pre-emptive attacks are common on Marra that have happened before.

I should stop being so cynical. It was all a big mistake right.

I am so tired of all of this stupidity. Council has no choice but to act in this matter and decisively. No Respect for CUPE members, no Respect for Councillors. The negotiating air is so poisoned.

How can it be done:

1) Council must agree to arbitration (BUT they should also invite CUPE to try and do a deal BEFORE the date of the Arbitration so the "farm will not be sold")

2) Remove the Mayor immediately because of the Protocol and the managers' actions and have a Committee of Councillors call the shots who should immediately contact CUPE and try to do a deal.

Even the Star reported today to substantiate my point:

  • Dispatching managers to vote "dumbfounds" expert, enrages workers

    Did mayor's manoeuvre contribute to strikers' angry rejection of city offer?

    An “inappropriate” manoeuvre by Mayor Eddie Francis that sent managers to a vote by striking city workers Thursday has left labour experts “dumfounded,” union leaders furious and at least one councillor stunned and saddened.

I cannot stand this farce already. Neither should you, dear reader. Neither should CUPE members. Neither should Windsorites. And neither for heaven's sake should Councillors!

More Mail Please

Hmmmm, which file is being handled worse, the CUPE strike or the border file? They are both being handled so incredibly poorly! They do have a common denominator though don't they--there is a common, official Voice of Council who is calling the shots! Perhaps that explains it.

In the interim, more mail coming in for you to read! A ton of it.

Oh and if you are wondering, my inside sources tell me that the vote was well over 80% in favour of NO in both CUPE locals! But for the CUPE constitution which did not permit I am told, many were prepared to vote "refuse to vote" and not have the vote at all.

As you will see, it was in effect an anti-Eddie vote pure and simple. CUPE members do not trust him at all after the Back To Work Protocol fiasco. I believe that reasonable people could reach a labour agreement. But with Eddie around.....

The issue is no longer wages, benefits, PRBs or anything else. The issue is Eddie Francis and how can a Mayor who pulls the stunts that he did yesterday with the lack of language in the Protocol and having the managers appear at he vote-site before the vote was taken be trusted. What RESPECT for workers!

It will be laughable to see how the sycophants and hangers-on try to justify what Eddie did. He may also have single-handedly undercut as well the anti-union strategy of Governments!

Oh pshaw, one can say that Eddie merely made an error in judgment. Is that an excuse that is acceptable in a 14 week strike? What does this say about his advisors as well if they were even consulted.

And about the Councillors. Will they ever get off their asses and run this City because the Mayor cannot?

1) I'm hoping this doesn't mean another 3 months on the picket line. But if Eddie really means about what he said about getting us back to work he'll get off his ass and give us a contract we can say yes too.

2) Dear City Councilors

You may recall a letter with the subject line "The Land of No Opposition" that I sent all of you July 15th.
To refresh your memory, here it is again.


Please, please tell the whole story about Eddie's power over you. You ALL voted to send what appears to be an insult to CUPE to vote on on July 16th.

I thought that councilors Postma, Jones and perhaps Marra and Lewenza actually cared about the city's long and productive association with its labor community. That now appears to have been a charade. Why are all of you so enamored about Eddie?...

Who will protect those who oppose Eddie if all of you, capitulate in the end.

I can only hope that all of this is said and done, the real story will come out....or is there one???


I did get three responses (much appreciated.):

Its amazing that you would send an email like this before you even know the details. How pathetic.

Hi [Name of person]. Are you familiar with the framework of the offer we tabled to CUPE?


The vote was 8 to 3 not unanimous as reported by the media.
(from Ron Jones)

It now appears that Councilor Dilkens had it right all along, your decision to vote unanimously to offer CUPE a proposal that they could not accept because it was insulting and totally disrespectful, was PATHETIC!

You even screwed up the protocol part of the offer. Wow. I wonder if sucking up to Eddie for so long is affecting your intelligence.

Look, you can do the right thing now and reject Eddie's "vision." I know you can do it. He's just a kid. You can stand up to him and do the right thing. You could have all saved face and voted to accept CUPE "final" offer. Nonetheless, you still have time to redeem yourselves.

Separate yourself from Eddie's spell. He is making all of you look really really bad. He is not running for Mayor again, or so he says. Some, perhaps all of you are. You have well over a year before the next election day. Be brave. It's 10 against one. You can do it. Other than Eddies "base" the rest of Windsor's citizens will see your decision to put Windsor back on track as the right decision.

3) We had to sign in and show our CUPE card. Everyone received a stamp to show before gaining entrance at the door.

The meeting started on time despite the happenings outside involving the managers. I was not there during that (I just missed it) but everyone was still buzzing.

Jean Fox went through the collective agreement changes as outlined and handed out to each member. There was a discussion about the back to work protocol and how that all happened. All members were very frustrated with this...

Jean also mentioned you Ed... She made an off-hand remark to a member that you should run for mayor.

4) Ha, you don't even know the half of it!! You'd be way more than shocked at what was in the City's offer even without the Back to Work Protocol! It was set up in a fashion that absolutely no one in their right mind would ever accept either of those offers! Not a chance in hell. I find it difficult to imagine our Mayor actually believing we would accept it. There were too many other major factors that must be corrected prior to any acceptance and he should know what they are. Btw, these major factors are not including PRB or wages. That should tell you just how unacceptable his offer was.

5) Hi Ed, what an interesting day for the City of Windsor! I am a CUPE 543 worker, and I attended the 4pm vote (very pale in comparison I must say).

I have been following your blog for quite some time now and I enjoy it very much. It is nice to read the truth of what is really going on in this city. Please don't ever stop writing in your blog. You sir, were even mentioned at our 4pm vote today!

I think Eddie has shot himself in the foot this time, and hopefully as you point out, council will take action and rid us of this clown. I too wonder if they knew of the flyer proposal. If Eddie really wanted to squash those fears out there, he could have asked for the vote to be postponed for this amendment to the contract. The union has also told us this contract is a lesser offer than the last one, in May I believe. Ah yes, and back-to-work protocal for CUPE local 82 asks that they work alongside scabs (private contracters to get everything back in order, parks, facilities, etc)!

I was hoping for an OK contract, I'm not expecting any big wage increases... But there is a lot of language in this contract that really aims to eliminate the liabilities of PRBs. Temporary workers would have been let go in my opinion, and new ones hired in their place so that any temps going for full-time jobs would only be those who are new hires, therefore, less liability. Seasonal recreational staff (daycamp, program instructors, lifeguards, etc) would only be called back on a need-be-basis. Why would they vote yes to a job that might not be there when they get back? These are not the student lottery positions, but hey, why pay a seasonal rec when you can pay a student (goverment funded program) knowing you only have to honour a 2 year contract with them.

What a farce this whole operation has turned out to be! By the way, the union is already collecting signatures for people who want to volunteer their time for the 2010 election. I can give you my endorsement right now!!!

...I hope we hear from Dalton soon, not that I enjoy him much but right now he's better than Eddie in my book...

Looking forward to more reading!

6) Did you see the part about the Temporary Part Time in the protocol? We will be called back if needed? WTH?? So I am supposed to vote yes and have no job to go back too?? I think not. Here on the picket line I am guarenteed money why would I give that up. What an idiot Eddie Francis is thinking we would vote for this! That is putting it mildly.

7) Hey ED :::

good day unto you, sir.

you are doing a most remarkable job with your coverage of
this city's ongoing labour dispute. bravo and kudos to you
once again. if i don't always agree with everything you say,
it must be said you do infuriate me least of all of those in
the region adding their (mostly useless and unsolicited)
commentary to the entire imbroglio that is this strike. your
perspective is always sharp, always on topic and tends to
dispense with the boring rhetoric we've all grown accustomed
to seeing reflected in our local media. may i here implore
you to keep on thinking through and beyond the stories that
interest you and offering your valuable and much needed
perspective to this community. no one can begin to calculate
what it is really worth.

from my own perspective in the 543 camp, i know there were a
scant few who voted yes today; but, overwhelmingly, it would
seem most were rather adamantly inclined to vote a
resounding, if not near deafening NO. NO to EDDIE and his
farce of a contract. NO to council for their blind
complicity in this fiasco, NO to the windsor scar ad nauseum
for their irresponsible and jugheaded views, NO to the
intellectually challenged citizens who have always harboured
resentment for government and its affiliates and have chosen
to side with farmer ed. NO to penny-wisdom and pound-foolishness.
NO to the double standards. NO to the mean-spiritedness of it all. NO to bad
faith. NO to hostile employers. NO to bad government and the
standard bearers they supposedly represent, NO to all the slime,
NO to all that is backwards, NO to all
that is ANTI-LIFE unless you pull a cool quarter of a
million a year.

that's a lot of NO-ing, but a quick look at all the
slanderous negativity we've been up against for the last 90
days and it should come as no real surprise.

despite the fact that the contact really wasn't anything to
write home about, the lack of back to work protocol seemed
to be the major issue with both locals. when the managers
showed up with the said "attachment", many many many it
would seem who had every intention of voting yes today had
no other choice but to vote it down. and said so in front of
the membership. and thusly, the 'frivolous' file on the bad
faith negotiations complaint against the city grew another
inch. (that bomb sure just continues to tick louder and
louder. eddie is in big trouble. his reckoning will one day
come. that it will happen in my lifetime gives me a lot of
pleasure. but alas, i digress...)

one thing i've reflected on is your question to me regarding
the exit strategy. when does it all end? first things first,
i think it ends when we are furnished with a contract that
does not throw the baby out with the bathwater. me, for
instance, i have not engaged in any illegal activity during
the course of the strike, but because of the late role i've
adopted for myself, i have no doubt that mine is one of the
names on the city's rumoured 2 page shit list. ergo, there
will not be a job for me to return to because i most
assuredly turn up on video and in photographs in their
various 'undesirables' dossiers. simply for assisting my
union in this struggle i will be one of the ones sure to be
"punished". and i am far from alone... so clearly, that
won't do.

secondly, it must be said that most members, on average,
have lost the better part of 10 thousand dollars in lost
wages owing to this strike. if we have to lose more to gain
in the long term then we will. the majority feels this way.
that's a big part of our latent strength. the summer is as
good as over. does anyone really think we'll be out until
the snow falls? this city fell apart already. what's another
month out on strike? what's the difference between 10 k and
14 in the face of what is at stake? (it doesn't even seem
like PRB's are the "threshold issue" any more. -- a fair
settlement is.)

thirdly, the "popularity" of the city's position has been
grossly exaggerated and criminally distorted by all who've
stuck their oars in right from the get-go, with very few
exceptions. if the media is the real arbiter of taste within
our governments, as suggested, then canada is in even worse
shape than anyone really imagines. and so maybe some things
are worth fighting for, against all odds and in the face of
ongoing animosity and peril? maybe this really is the fight
of our lives? if it is, i can assure the enemy that i've
never been one to lay down quietly. and it seems many of my
comrades in both locals are cut from the same cloth...

had we signed up today to go back, there would be no end to
the lack of peace and justice in our respective lives. not
only could we not live with ourselves, but we'd be digging
ourselves an even bigger grave down the road when the next
contract comes up in four years. no one wants to engage in
this confrontation again in 4, 8 or even in 12 years time.
we need something that we can all live with today and
tomorrow, and until that offer is set in ink, the city can
pound salt. sooner or later people are going to begin
wondering what they're getting for their tax base. sooner or
later the much put upon managerial class will become
exhausted. sooner or later something really nasty and
terrible will transpire that will set the stage for
government intervention.

i think the union has been well behaved up to this point.
picketing the mayors house was no big deal. the youtube
videos that show union members in various states unbecoming
of civil servants are also no big deal. the under-reported
belligerence of city hall consistently shown to CUPE in the
past 3 months -- that's what isn't so easily dismissed. in
fact, that's the biggest deal. those are the wounds that
will take longest to heal. as long as the city wants to
continue playing games and shilly shallying about in these
negotiations, the deeper those wounds will become.
intractable positions are no longer tenable. the union has
negotiated fairly. the union has worked to find a solve. it
is the city now who needs to give an inch. and, if that inch
isn't given, i think we will try and take a mile. and we
just might take it, too.

i think that's what's going on.

hope you are feeling hale and hearty,

8) A resounding no on 543's and 82's contracts. No numbers released just a resounding no.

9) I'm sure I am not the only one who noticed, but it seems your blog has somewhat indirectly affected some of the decisions and thoughts of many CUPE members. For good reason that is. It simply makes sense. In recent union meetings I have heard members bring up ideas straight from your blog, and the most recent example being today at the vote. Had you been this popular amongst CUPE members from the start of this strike, we may be in a different situation right now, perhaps a better one.

10) You Reap What You Sow blog. Guess what, when CUPE sent their proposal to council they included a much more detailed back to work protocol so why the hell didn't council do the same?

...We will be continuing our pursuit of bad faith bargaining. It was scheduled for Thursday but due to negotiations it was postponed. Also, Eddie wants the charges dropped.

This morning was hilarious in the Caboto Club parking lot. The union chased away these managers and threw the so called back to work proposal in the air (what a farce it doesn't adequately address our biggest concerns re: return to work, job loss and disciplinary action re: strike action). The 82 proposal states that the union agrees to hire contractors to assist in grass cutting. Can't wait to watch A channel to find out if they show that disrespect to the union. It was nowhere near a riot just a lot of shouting and I'm thinking that this is further proof that Eddie is bargaining in bad faith only now it was in the faces of the union membership instead of behind closed doors.

He is now stating that he wants us back to work... Now he is trying to act all sympathetic. I'm now wondering if his contingency plan has run its course and he has no more tricks up his sleeve. Does this mean he'll finally agree to arbitration or call a supervised vote in a few weeks time? Or will he hang us out to dry and hire enough replacement workers to do all our jobs and after ten months say au revoir. Well I guess time will tell

10) Jean met with Helga for a good half hour yesterday morning in Charles Clark Square. Wonder if thatis where the back to work protocol got its beginning.

11) at this time we don't know the result of the vote but I would like to say the elected officials of the city of Windsor are very irresponsible dragging the city in such state of depravation in a tug of war pull with the union. The interest of the city as all and the rights of the taxpayers comes first and not the personal position that they are taking. Being elected official arbitration should have been the solution but they prefer a tug of war attitude familiar in the city administration ignoring all the rest of the city needs specially in summer time with many tourists and many activities that they may not be back in the future.

12) We were also told that some of the city negotiators wanted to stay on Tuesday and continue to negotiate but the city did not allow them too. The city also wants CUPIE to drop the bad faith bargaining case! The city just keeps giving them more ammunition.

13) [Copy of a note sent to Councillors] OMG WHAT WERE YOU PEOPLE THINKING. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU (wait maybe you were joking, no you didn't do this on purpose?????)

Taking donations to get my "do not vote for".......... signs ready all those who can donate please do, I have a free printer but need to pay for the blank signs and posts.,those who want signs on your front yard let me know. Please see the captain of each of your neighbourhoods.

We will be prepared to end the reign of Eddie and the puppets.

14) At the CUPE meeting we were told that it was unconstitutional (CUPE constitution) to vote not to vote. Therefore, we had to vote on the Council's offer.

15) I just returned from the 543 Caboto vote! It seems you are quite popular. There were cheers when your name was mentioned and there was a call to endorse you for mayor!!!! I want you to know that your no vote idea was pursued! We did try! It seems that CUPIE national would not allow it saying it was a ratification meeting and not to vote would not fly.

16) Hi Ed, just got back from voting. First of all, at around 10:30 when most people were going to be entering the hall, a few mgmt. staff showed up with the City's Back to Work Protocol. They attempted to hand them out to the members who were still outside the hall. All the local media was there. A member (I'm not sure who) grabbed all the papers and threw them in the air, there was a billow of management papers floating around the Caboto Club. Then we proceeded into our meeting and the doors were locked.

I can only tell you how I voted, which was NO. NO to wages which were insulting given how much money the City has saved with us being out, and NO because of the Back to Work Protocol, which was missing some key points (i.e. no actions to be taken against strikers).. If they think that we are going to sell out some of our members for juveniles, they are sadly mistaken. As well, we have many temporary staff members, who in the protocol it was stated, they would be called if their services were needed. WTF?? Do you have any idea how many temp. employees we have? This would also sell out the temporary staff and ECE's whose services may not be needed at this time either. It was NOT ACCEPTABLE.

We were told that the leadership called CUPE National and were told that we were not allowed to make a motion for "NO VOTE", this was a ratification meeting, we HAD to vote. But a resounding NO would send a message to the City.

And the Back to Work Protocol would have to be revised to protect members more specifically. As for our Bad Faith Bargaining complaint, this we will NOT be giving up, no way.

Anyways, I will be awaiting the results like everyone else. And hopefully it was a resounding NO. We were VERY close to getting a contract that would be satisfactory. But even if it was everything I hoped for, I would still have been so tempted to just vote NO to let Eddie know HE HAS NOT BROKEN THIS UNION. Hopefully the City will revise the offer and we can all get back to work.

17) Councillors,
I must start this communication by stating that as a resident, taxpayer and trade unionist I am outraged by the fact that city managers showed up today at a union ratification vote. I would hope that I would not have to explain how absolutely inappropriate for any reason this tactic is. For members of council who have been or are currently members of a trade union you should share this outrage. It is now abundantly clear that our mayor hasn't the faintest clue how to conduct negotiations with our workers. In his news conference this evening he spoke of respect for our employees. That statement would be laughable if it wasn't so deeply insulting. This mayor, empowered by you our councillors has from day one divided our city. He has turned neighbour against neighbour. He has exploited the legitimate pain of this recession for his (and your) own purposes. This is not leadership! It is quite frankly sickening.

I will reiterate for those of you that have not heard this from me before that I am not concerned with the details of this contract. Whatever deal is reached between the city and CUPE is fine with me provided it is reached in an environment of fairness and respect. My angst is soley with the absolute disregard for fairness and complete lack of respect shown by our mayor toward the collective bargaining process. Whether you like it or not this is a right granted to each and every Ontarian by law. You must respect that right as you would any right enjoyed by our citizens and employees. Thus far you have not even come close. I would site for you the unfairness sanctioned by council when you passed the by-law prohibiting burn barrels just prior to this dispute. That burn barrel is an iconic symbol of union job action and that by-law was clearly not intended to enhance public safety but was a shot across the bow at all trade unions in this city. Conversely the city saw fit to completely ignore and our mayor flat out lied about the enforcement of the by-law prohibiting residents from cutting public grass. Eddie Francis stated publicly that this was not being enforced because the enforcement officers were on strike. That by-law clearly states that police are also obliged to enforce it. This activity exposes our residents to extreme liability in the event that there is some injury on city property. That liability is clearly strengthened from a legal perspective when the mayor admits that he knows it's happening and refuses to stop it. You don't need to be a lawyer to figure that out. This is just one example of you and the mayor looking the other way on broken laws when it enhances the city's intractable position and helps turn public opinion against our workers. That is most shameful. The law is the law and all of them must be enforced, period!

Mr Halberstadt and Mr Valentinis as my representatives on council your job is to represent me whether you agree with me or not. I am a taxpayer. This is a democracy. My emails have been repeatedly ignored. In particular Mr Valentinis you have not returned a single one in 14 weeks. Thanks for nothing. This will be remembered next election. It is your job not to speak only for those who sing from Eddie's hymn book but for your entire constituency.

Mr Halberstadt although you have been somewhat more responsive you have yet to provide me with figures I requested in the first weeks of this strike. I will formally ask of you and the rest of this council again for the savings realized by the city on the elimination of PRB's for new hires. I am demanding to see to the dollar what the savings on a year to year basis would be starting in year one and through year 10 or 15. Mr Halberstadt you stated at one point that all the numbers have been made public. Where? You have all been party to the misleading of the residents. It would be my contention that if the entire program of PRB's was never funded since it inception then it must we must be paying the bills as they arrive. That would mean that any new hire's retirement benefits would not cost this city one dime untill that person retired. That would obviously mean there would be zero savings from the elimination of this benefit for many, many years down the road. I would love to be corrected on this point. Please provide me the funding structure for post retirement benefits. I have an absolute right to see this information. The entire city has the absolute right to have this information...

Well councillors you have some choices to make here. Do you choose to do the right thing and shed light on this issues? Do you remove the power you've given this mayor and begin to engage in real negotiation fairly and respectfully? If you refuse then I demand this contract be sent to arbitration. Mayor and council have proven to be incompetent when it comes to negotiation. It is time this process be taken from your hands and a settle that puts our workers back to work tomorrow is achieved through arbitration. Don't give me the lies that were intitially put out about arbitration and how they "give away the farm". I have done my own research I know the facts about arbitration. I am still waiting for Mr Marra to retract his statement and correct the record regarding having someone from Toronto arbitrate this. There are fully qualified labour arbitrators right here in Windsor. I have read the decisions handed down by many arbitrators and they all uncannily come out about 50/50 union and management. So enough with that malarky.

I will not go away. I demand answers to my questions. I have a RIGHT to know. It is my money you people are playing games with and I have had enough!!!

18) The mention of you running for Mayor in the next election was brought up today at the meeting/vote. What do you say?

19) All your articles are distributed daily among the crews; you've motivated us on plenty of bad days :) But there it was, your late night advice in the hands of Jean herself. Said she checked with Sid Ryan, who advised not to use NON VOTE. There was a straight explanation of the proposal, (it was the sort someone desperate could vote yes on, and sleep that night. Then the Return to Work protocol issue came up. Emotions skyrocketed. [Name of person] stood up to speak, mild mannered, logical) while expressing his disgust, anger and humiliation, broke into tears, threw his cap and stormed away. We were voting no unanimously....

20) You may already have been told but your name came up at our meeting with great applause and a call for you to be the next mayor. The contract the Union was requesting was more then fair but the city still couldn't manage to do the minimum. The support in the room was strong.

21) Another problem with the return to work protocol is the absence of any mention of all the information gathered by the private security firm hired to monitor strikers over the last few months.

Normally it would be stated that any information gathered or any misdeeds committed during the strike would be absolved and everyone would start with a clean slate upon returning to work.

I don't think I am alone in saying there is a real fear that it is the intent of Mr. Francis to discipline any employee, up to and including termination he believes to have perpetrated an act with which he has photo, video or audio proof.

I have been told (by supervisors) that cameras had been added to their normal security systems immediately preceeding the strike that were not on line with the rest of the security system. Basically, the supervisors knew there were cameras placed in various areas that they could not monitor or have access to using there current system.

If this is true (I don't believe the supervisors were lying), where was the video feed going, who had access to it and what was the intent of it's use.

I know there are security systems that allow remote access via the internet...

I do believe this would play on the minds of anyone voting today.

These are just a couple of my thoughts for what they are worth.



23) Just heard Eddie turning his major goof on return-to-work protocol into CUPE's fault. Accusing of fear mongering and sabotage of the vote. Sending managers to a union meeting? That was a well conceived idea.

24) I’ve been pushing “Do Not Vote”. There’s a large contingent who want that.

25) There had been some yes leaners prior to the managers handing out the protocol.

Rational members are those who are not vociferously parroting the union dogma but raising legitimate questions and trying to explain their own financial dilemmas.

Just read your blog. No, there’s nothing in it about not being fired except in the covering letter. More tricks and chicanery by Eddie.

So much about not blogging until this evening.

26) You "Woodward" needs a "Bernstein".

27) They just brought you up and said arditti for mayor!!


29) Bad bad vibe. Police and media

30) You're right on the money with your last blog post...the back to work protocol
is weighing very heavy with the negotiating committee. We'll just have
to wait and see what the outcome is.

31) I'll keep it short. A City of Windsor management person from the West Windsor Polution Control plant came out to chat with our fellow CUPE Brothers & Sisters at that picket site to brag about and show off his latest overtime cheque in the amount of $25,000.00 plus. Nothing like rubbing salt in our open wounds.

This happened before when a supervisor came to work with a brand new Chrysler and thanked all the CUPE workers in our yard for buying and paying for his new car with all his overtime. It didn't sit well with CUPE members then and certainly doesn't sit well now.

Eddie Francis has created a pissing match between himself, CUPE members and taxpayers. Most taxpayers after getting the true facts are very understanding and supportive of our cause. If the PRB are not settled for new hires and we are going to have a two teered system amongst co-workers I'm voting NO on this contact offer.

In all my years with the City of Windsor I have never seen a Mayor be involved or his the arrogance from the beginning of talks. City Councillors seem like they have no backbone to stand up for what they believe and are allowing the Mayor to play with them like his puppets on his strings (his way or the hyway).

Anyhow, thanks for your Blogs, you definetly stir up the thought process, rather that reading the Windsor Star rag paper, which I and most of our membership cancelled and will never have in our homes again due to their one sided reporting.

Thanks again for showing that you check the facts and Blog accordinglly.

32) So let me get this right. The city has sent an offer for a vote and they are still tweeking it with protocal language????????

33) I'm not a religous man, but I'm praying my friends in CUPE have one more round left in them!

34) I have been following your blog for quite some time now. I appreciate your ability to present both sides of the story.

Funny thing is that your blog today is the sentiment of many people I picketed with today. Although we did not come up with refusing to vote on a crappy contract.

As for tomorrow's vote...I personally cannot vote yes for a contract that does not have a back to work protocol. I also know that both Jean and Jim our presidents do not support the proposal. I also know of several people who will also vote no and this is even before knowing what the content of the proposal is!!! We have not walked the line for 13 weeks to fold now although we recognize that we could be out for a very long time. We are expecting that a strong NO vote could force Eddie's hand into arbitration.

I am fed up with the lack of leadership from the union and all their mistakes (which is a really nice way of putting it). I am equally fed up with the lack of negotiating on the City's side and this strike has become very personal to me at times even clouding my judgement. It's a good thing I have your blog to read to bring me back to reality. I believe that this strike will only be resolved by arbitration or back to work legislation. Tomorrow will tell us if we are heading into the lion's den on Friday or Monday or if CUPE's membership has decided to stick together and remain strong.

I for one want to see the OLRB filing resumed and a class action suit started and at the same time negotiations continue.

This is indeed a very scary time to work for the City of Windsor.

35) Cheers,keep writing and many more will keep smiling

36) Do you know any labour lawyers you could send to CUPE?
Big fan of your opinions.
Take care and if anything you have been writing has true merit I hope Cupe legal is already talking to lawyers.

37) Personally I am hoping for a no vote. The mayor is acting like a bully and I learned a long time ago that the only way to get a bully to leave you alone was to stand up to them! If you give a bully a candy or chocolate bar they will return for money the next day.

In my humble opinion unions across Ontario need to lobby the provincial government to end an employer’s ability to bring in replacement workers. Also, picketing Sandra’s and Dwight’s offices for the odd day is not enough. We need a constant presence! They need to know that they will not be left alone until the government forces arbitration!

No matter how things turn out tomorrow thank you so much for your fair and even coverage.

38) I refuse to vote unless it is a supervised vote by the Ministry or the offer is endorsed by my union executive.

39) A very large, bitter pill to swallow. I'd been looking forward to this for weeks! Now all I feel is dread. If I could count on our union to be both sensible and strong, NO would come much easier.

Very well written ED.

40) Thank you for your blogs!!!

I fully agree that CUPE members must stand up and vote a strong NO!

41) I've already passed your link on to a couple of CUPE members and asked them to go viral with it.

42) [RE: CUPE: yes, no or no vote today] S**t, I think you've got a really good point there sir. (I'm an educated professional woman, that language comes from 3 months on the picket lines!)

PS - read and enjoy your blog everyday.

43) The Council and Mayor have tossed the Williams Report outlining progressive ward boundary changes. Most Windsorites would agree that unfairness exists in the present setup with some counselors representing thousands more citizens than others. Despite hours of deliberation and lost motions, city council could only agree to disagree, keeping the status quo.

At some point the municipal workers strike will end, likely on the mayor's terms and he will declare victory. At that point he may ask Council to join him in planning a victory parade. To make it simple I offer these parade suggestions.

One man parade.
Two car parade.
One car, one man.
Two men, no cars, one garbage truck.

Do you think our civic leaders would be able to agree on one of these celebratory options? With the mayor's help do you think they could organize it?

44) I don't know if you watched city council this past week, or if you did you may have missed an off handded comment Eddie made during the many failing votes on the ward restructuring.

If there is any way you need to get a copy and replay it. Towards the end, between one of the last votes, when it looked like everything would fail Eddie said something to the effect of maybe it should just be a one mayor system. To that there were some short laughs. I don't know if it was just him or councillors laughing at the comment, but I think with everything he has done he was more serious than not.

45) We signed up for the election program while at the Caboto today... CUPE had a table at the back. Going to approach it by ward by ward AND mayor. Provincials will be next. Outside before the meeting a nice fellow was there collecting signatures for the ward petition too. We couldn't write our names on there fast enough. I was one of the survivors of the 3 hour "we can't decide on a simple thing even when a pro puts the study together for us" council meeting last week. I need a
survivor shirt for that one!

Not going to get into the attempt by the City to undermine our vote today. There's enough about that everywhere. All I can say is a very nice fellow handed me a paper and when I asked him where this paper was from he said that it was a message from the mayor. That's when all hell broke loose.

Just who our leaders are was quite on our minds as today, we were voting on their very own election platform for 2010 after all. Wonder what options were given to council for them to vote 11-0 for that insulting offer to employees? Is he leading our councillors with his voting?

Really suspect that it was a "You're either with me or against me vote"? As in, "Should we make an offer? Yes or No?" and what could they say to that but yes. I understand that no council meeting was held for the protocol document either...

And just so you understand, the offer is not about money even though that is in there too. The insults throughout the offer are many. Inside these offers they find it completely appropriate to signal out classes of jobs (aka people) and discriminate against seasonals, temporaries, part-timers like it is an okay thing to do. Like it is okay that they be removed from fair and equal treatment.
I understand that it is common practice to do this but that does not make it the right thing to do and I think that people have had enough.


46) My words for CUPE would be to ask membership to vote one more time to reject the offer. The Mayor is only holding a bluff hand. CUPE is so close now to calling that and laying down a royal flush. If the Mayor does not get his way on Thursday it will be a major blow to his campaign. One last time. One last effort. Thats all. CUPE has more support than they know. REJECT THE OFFER. Send this Mayor scrambling. Keep pushing Ed. Maybe between now and tomorrow CUPE members can be convinced. You have their ear.

The Negotiating Atmosphere Has Been Poisoned


He is the one who did it, no one else.

No matter what position you take on the CUPE strike, Eddie Francis single-handedly has made settlement of the strike an impossibility.

The issue that damaged him fatally is the Back To Work Protocol. He is just such too clever for words. Say something in the Star, say something in a covering letter but do NOT put in any language in the legal Agreement saying:

  • “No bargaining unit employee is going to be fired because of strike-related activities."

Why not...there are precedents all over the internet for language if his outside lawyer did not have the appropriate words.

Speaking of George King, he completely undermined Francis:

  • "City lawyer George King said the mediator had contacted the city on Wednesday saying the union was seeking such a document in advance of today’s vote.

    Francis said after waiting for the union’s document until late afternoon, the city decided to send its own version to the CUPE leadership at 5 p.m."

Why was the City doing nothing until the last minute--waiting for a CUPE document-- when the mediator asked the City to prepare it? Isn't this how Eddie acted with Councillors in the canal matter. Give them the documents at the last minute?

Sowing “unfounded fear”---I would have thought that saying one thing and doing another is a pretty good reason to be afraid! I think it is well-founded.

Please try and convince me that this was not a deliberate effort on the part of the City to make the workers vote NO. Having management at the session was nothing more than inflammatory:

  • "Jim Wood, president of Local 82 said, “I approached Mr. Sadler. I told him I was pissed off. I am at my wit’s end.”

    Wood said Sadler told him he had been sent to the club by “upper management, my boss.”

    “Well his boss is Mr. Mayor, Eddie Francis. Shame on the mayor,” said Wood.

    “If this whole thing falls apart right now, which I have a very good feeling it is, it is the mayor’s fault.”

Obviously, the City wants the workers to be in the position of voting NO so that they can pull out their next trick to try and break the Union.

I wonder what the Councillors knew. Did they know of the Protocol? From my inside sources, I was told that it had not been sent to them. Could that possibly be true?

If that is true, how do they feel after it was issued? Supportive? Or disgusted? Is that in Councillor Marra's terms the way:

  • "to give the city’s offer “genuine and serious consideration” so that the city can begin the difficult process of healing and moving forward. He said it was imperative city services be restored and vital that workers get back on the job and on with their lives."

I do not think so and neither should you, dear reader.

Eddie Francis has lost any respect that anyone should give him in the management of this file. The shabby handling of the Protocol is nothing more than a disgrace. To be direct, who can work with him now?

Council must call a Special Council meeting immediately and in public. The Councillors have no choice now but to remove the Mayor as their lead if they truly want a strike resolution.

If they do not do so, then they are no better than he.

It is NOT an issue of who is right or who is wrong in the strike any more. It is an issue of running the City in an open, transparent and honest manner. Once Eddie is removed then people who want to build consensus not make confrontation can take over.

If the two Ward 2 Councillors, Junior, Councillor Hatfield, the self-interested Councillor Halberstadt and his other Three Blind Mice colleagues (or are they the Rat pack now) have any respect for themselves and their fellow citizens, then it is time for Management to act fairly. That cannot be done with Francis in charge! He must be removed forthwith.

Oh, one other matter. While Eddie did not protect workers from being fired in his Protocol, I heard that one of the items the City wanted was the bad faith negotiating claim withdrawn or dismissed, I am not sure what term was used.

My view...CUPE ought to be talking to their lawyers to see if new ones can be added and demand a hearing forthwith!

BLOGExtra: Insulting CUPE's Intelligence

Now we know why the Police attended at the CUPE meeting. Unbelievable actions by the City!

Please do not dare tell me now that the City wanted the strike to end!

I saw the Star article this morning on the Back To Work Protocol and here is what it said:
  • "Francis said after waiting for the union’s document until late afternoon, the city decided to send its own version to the CUPE leadership at 5 p.m. He said CUPE employees and non-union city employees who attended the various union rallies during the day reported back that CUPE workers stood to lose their city jobs with the offer being presented at today’s ratification vote.

    Francis said the CUPE leadership was sowing “unfounded fear” in advance of the vote.

    The city document is actually only one page, with a cover page explaining why the employer was handing them out to strikers directly.

    “The city intends to honour this protocol even though the union has not responded.

    “No bargaining unit employee is going to be fired because of strike-related activities" says the covering letter."

Hey, I thought that was pretty good. Then I saw that the Star had posted a copy of it and the covering letter. Here it all is:

  • "Editor's note: Below is a copy of the text from the proposed Return to Work agreement City of Windsor managers handed out to striking CUPE in advance of the members' vote on the city's proposed contract Thursday, July 16, 2009.









    (Hereinafter referred to as the “Employer”)



    (Hereinafter referred to as the “Union”)

    The Parties agree as follows in the event the collective agreement is ratified on Thursday, July 16, 2009:

    1. Minutes of Settlement to be provided to their respective principals for Ratification.

    2. General Managers are to notify their respective Executive Directors who will then notify their respective Management staff that ratification has occurred.

    3. a) Operations for those Regular Full-time employees who are returning to shift work shall commence on Monday, July 20, 2009. Employees shall be notified by their Manager/Supervisor of the shift they shall return to for commencement of employment.

    b) Regular Full-time Early Childhood Educators (ECE’s) shall be contacted by their Executive Director (or their designate) as to the centre they will be deployed on Monday, July 20, 2009. A reasonable and fair attempt will be made to allow the employee to be recalled to their identical location and schedule that they held on the last day worked prior to April 18, 2009.

    c) All other Regular Full-time employees shall return to work they were performing prior to the work stoppage on the Day Shift on Monday, July 20, 2009

    d) Regular Part-time employees shall be contacted by their respective Departments regarding their work schedule and locations.

    e) Pursuant to a previously signed Memorandum of Agreement between the parties, Temporary and Recreation employees shall be contacted by the Corporation should their employment be required.

    4. The Union will sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the Corporation agreeing to employ youth aged 15 to 18, under the Government of Ontario – Ministry of Children and Youth Services – New Beginnings – Summer Jobs for Youth Initiatives.

    5. Employees on approved leaves of absence or sick leave shall return to work at the end of such leave or sick leave absence or at the end of the strike which date is later, as the case may be and in compliance with the collective agreement and sick leave bylaw 980.

    6. All returning bargaining unit employees shall be credited with seniority in accordance with the terms of the ratified collective agreement for the period of the work stoppage. Employees have the option of purchasing both portions of the pension plan (employer/employee) within the allotted times prescribed by OMERS and subject to any applicable rules of the OMERS pension plan and the collective agreement.

    7. Pursuant to an agreement between the parties, the Employer maintained continuity of employee benefits plans during the strike with the understanding that CUPE National would fully reimburse the Corporation of all expenses incurred during the work stoppage. As soon as possible after the re-establishment of normal operations, the Employer will submit to the Union a bill for any outstanding costs of such benefits during the strike. The union agrees that its National Office will pay the benefit costs for the striking members for the entire period of the work stoppage.

    8. The grievance procedure time limits with respect to grievances filed prior to the commencement of the work stoppage shall be deemed to have been extended for the duration of the work stoppage.

    9. Vacation entitlement/credits shall not be pro-rated for the current calendar year. A reasonable and fair effort will be made to honour previously authorized vacation time off and vacation in progress as of the date of mutual ratification of the tentative collective agreement. Vacation time that was previously scheduled during the period of the work stoppage shall either be rescheduled at a time agreed upon between the employee and the employer, in accordance with seniority, or carried over, in accordance with the collective agreement.


    Dated the ________ day of ____________, 2009.

    For the Corporation For the Union

    ______________________________ ______________________________

    General Manager Corporate Services President, CUPE Local 543

    ______________________________ ______________________________

    Executive Director of Human Resources Recording Secretary, CUPE Local 543


I had already figured out that Eddie said no firing but he did not say no discipling. BUT no term in the contract at all----what kind of silliness is this!

How can anyone deal with this City????

Who is sowing fears now? May Eddie reap what he has been sowing.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Waiting For "Refuse To Vote"

I wonder if this will be the result today. We shall see!

I am beat...too much writing and too many late nights trying to be on top of too many stories. A bit of a pause until the vote results are in.

So two pieces that you may find amusing. The first is tongue-in-cheek, I think, from a reader who suggests why CUPE might want to consider voting YES:
  • "Your post today is well done, and spells out the case for rejecting the offer. (You noticed that Eddie broke his promise to post the offer on the City's website today.

    I offered another perspective. In a military campaign, sometimes generals choose to pull back from a battle, lose it effectively, in order come at the enemy from another direction. Add to this the guerrilla tactics of going into the enemies "home" and doing major damage.

    If the workers vote yes with a plan in mind it may work better in the long run in that the city will pay and pay and pay. For example, if all of the insider workers demand to be retrained in order to do their job, this would halt the whole operation. They would work to rule, walk out of meeting, and on for every break possible, take the maximum sick days, resist all attempts by managers to "be nice" and when they say something about it, tell them to go and cry on Eddie shoulder. I do know that there will be no compromise with managers. They are complicit with in association with Eddie and his groupies. They profited from the financial pain of CUPE Workers.

    I only wish that CUPE national would make a big announcement along with a No vote to send hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the strikers at more that 200.00 a week.

    Then there is the next election. Every one of the current city council members have failed... I know that there are many other groupies out there, but Eddie will screw things up in many other areas, like the bridge, and all of the lackey councilors will go down with him.

    This city will suffer for a very very long time now that it has broken its relationship with the labor community."

And the Windsor Star today being so nice. Even quoting people who are giving out what the UNION has been trying to get into the Star in the first place. They must think that the Strike is over and want to build up their subscriber base again:

  • "Deal or no deal?

    CUPE members decide today

    Ward 4 Coun. Bill Marra urged workers to give the city's offer "genuine and serious consideration" so that the city can begin the difficult process of healing and moving forward. He said it was imperative city services be restored and vital that workers get back on the job and on with their lives.

    "We have to restore the relationships that have been affected by this work stoppage. It's affected the community and there have been some strongly divisive lines created and somehow we need to find a way to address that," said Marra. "We've got to come out of this somehow stronger and better. Those are easy words to state and it's a lot easier said than done, but that has to be our objective."

    Windsor resident Richard Robinson lamented the divisive nature of the strike and the criticism levelled at workers, who are striking to preserve post-retirement benefits, not for themselves but for future hires.

    "They went out on strike for the next generation," he said. "They've been on strike for three months, they've been suffering, and all everybody was doing was badmouthing them."

    A man catching smallmouth bass at the foot of Ouellette Avenue said CUPE picked a bad time to go on strike. "How do you split the pie up when the pie is shrinking?" he said. "By this stage of the game, I guess there are no winners."

    Windsor resident Nancy Zaborek fears city workers are being used as pawns in a broader game to strip benefits away from all workers.

    "Who's next? Is it going to cascade?" she said.

    Brian Murphy, enjoying a riverfront walk before sunset, called for a speedy end to the work stoppage. "It's gone on long enough," he said. "Both sides have suffered and so has the city."

And now, I am going to wait!

BLOGExtra: Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop

How quickly things change as more "information" comes out. Finding the truth may be the key.

Gossip, rumours, worries for CUPE members and a sleepness night for many. That is what happens when the Mayor's counter-offer is kept secret.

I feel sorry for the CUPE Presidents for all of the noise that is going around but they brought it on themselves. I can imagine that they may not now know what they are going to do at the meeting until they get there and feel the mood of the crowd!

Sure, the meeting is scheduled and the CUPE membership wants and deserves a vote but if circumstances change, then the Presidents must change with it. And so do my thoughts.

Word is getting out that not much has changed from what the City has offered already.

However, there is a more ominous sign. I have heard a rumour from several sources that the City refuses to provide a "Back to Work Protocol."

That is an agreement with terms like:
  • "Model Protocol for Return to Work After a Strike

    1 The administration agrees that no disciplinary measures shall be taken against members who were on strike for their actions during the strike.

    2 There shall be no discipline imposed on members for breaches of any policy arising from the work stoppage."

Its purpose is:

  • essentially the rules by which the two sides will operate as things return to normal... It's designed to make sure that there is no bad blood, and that things can return to normal as quickly as possible."

If none is provided then anyone who did anything unbecoming on the line can be reprimanded or even fired.

It's payback time. The people who may want to be concerned are those who walked in front of Eddie's house. Didn't a City Manager take photos of the workers?

It is easy to guess who would be #1 on the Hit list I am sure.

This suggests to me that Eddie may NOT want a settlement either for some reason. He would expect that the Union will turn down his counter-offer so that he can implement his next step.

It may be that, as I suggested, a REFUSE TO VOTE approach at the meeting may be the smartest move!

The CUPE leaders should give CUPE members the option NOT to vote. I am sure they would take it if it was explained properly. Otherwise CUPE is giving Eddie for free the knowledge about how strong or weak the members' support is and allowing him to punish workers for their strike activities. Let members speak and if the clear majority is saying to toss out the Mayor's counter-proposal, the CUPE Presidents should just ask whether a formal vote is needed at all.

CUPE can accomplish almost as much as what I advocated for in my previous "NO" BLOG by not voting too.

That should throw Eddie off his game plan. Force him to call in the Ministry to supervise a vote.

I have no official confirmation about what is in the Counter-offer. All I am saying is that CUPE needs to be smart in its strategy for what is to take place at the meeting. All of these factors need to be taken into account before members are asked to do anything.

UPDATE: Thanks to a reader, I have this new information:

To: Hatfield, Percy
Sent: Wed Jul 15 18:37:12 2009
Subject: Job Protocol Language

Wednesday July 15, 2009 6:30pm

Hi Percy,

However, one piece of information is floating around out there. If the information is correct, then I think the outcome becomes more predictable.

Apparently the city's "Offer of Settlement" does NOT contain the job protocal language that was part of the union's last offer. Job protocol language is ALWAYS a part of every settlement because it protects workers from such things as disciplinary actions.

In essence, the absence of such job protocol language leaves members at risk in various ways...

If the rumour is true, what boggles my mind is that 10 councillors would ALL approve of an offer that deliberately counters the union's proposal by removing that language from the from the "Offer of Settlement".

Many union members who might otherwise vote to accept the city's offer may feel that they have no choice but to reject it. If the rumour is true, I think the city may well have shot itself in the foot this time!

I guess we will all find out tomorrow.


Subject: Re: Job Protocol Language

Date: Wed, 15 Jul 2009 18:40:34 -0400


A protocol is or has been worked on today by a unanimous vote of council.

How Should CUPE Members Vote

In this matter, ironically, for CUPE, NO means YES!

CUPE members really have no choice in my opinion. They must vote NO and reject the City's offer. Overwhelmingly!

Or, to show some strategic thinking for once, the CUPE leaders should offer the option to their members to refuse to vote at all since the offer is unacceptable to them. They should call Eddie's bluff and force Eddie to have the Ministry supervise the vote to satisfy the democratic right of their members who may want to vote YES.

Consider this...the CUPE offered vote is a freebie and a gift to the Mayor. Eddie gets to learn the strength or weakness of CUPE at no risk. If the vote is say, 55% NO, then Eddie just needs to squeeze a bit more and he has won. Why give up this information for no reason at all and just destroy your own position!

Eddie always likes to threaten but never carries out his threats in the face of a strong opponent. He likes fighting weakness. Let him put his neck on the line rather than be given a freebie vote! He won't do it because he knows he would lose. The people of Windsor need to see how weak he is as with the Greenlink threats.

I well understand that it is completely presumptuous of me to tell CUPE members what to do. I am not suffering as they are. I am not risking losing my job completely if the Mayor gets into a pique because someone dared oppose him. Yet, I can stand back since I am not involved in the day-to-day struggle and perhaps see what they cannot right now. I might be able to offer a perspective that they have not thought of for their consideration.

It is voting day for CUPE members. And a lot more is riding on what they do than just settling this strike in Windsor.

The two Windsor CUPE locals are the "canaries in the coalmine" as our Mayor likes to use that expression. No wonder our strike has received so much attention. From Toronto, especially at first.

What will happen here is merely the start of what will happen elsewhere. In fact, it has already begun. Perhaps nothing that happens here will make a bit of difference whatsoever in the big picture. But then again, maybe it will since workers, even non-union ones, need a major union around whom they can gather now that CAW has been decimated by Governments.

Did you have the impression as I did that the CAW was now more interested in preserving itself as a union than worrying about the taxidrivers' strike:
  • “Yes, I am upset with the union,” El-Moussaoui said outside the CAW Local 195 union hall.

    “If they could not get us a better deal, why did we go on strike for over 100 days...”

    “Huge gains,” Farnham said. “At the end of the day, my opinion is that this is a victory.”

    CAW national president Ken Lewenza attended the ratification meeting to address the membership and praise CAW Local 195.

    Asked if he sensed any decrease in support for the union, Lewenza replied: “No, not at all.”

So what, I have a mortgage to pay, bills are overdue and my family and I like eating is something a CUPE member is entitled to say. Fighting the good fight for someone else is very noble in theory but it hurts when you are the individual actually impacted.

Is there a way to deliver a message on both issues, the drive to crush public service unions and to force CUPE members to capitulate on benefits they were given in the past.

Before anyone gets too smart, remember that this strike is NOT CUPE's fault. There is another agenda at play that we have not yet completely uncovered. If we use the example of the Windsor Public Library as a more enlightened approach to collective bargaining with similar issues over PRBs, then the City and Union should have discussed key issues years ago and not let it come to this mess. Perhaps this is why the Mayor has been so anti-Library. They provide an example of co-operation, not confrontation. He looks bad by comparison.

It is the CITY that passed a bylaw granting benefits to CUPE members and to the Mayor and Council too. As to Council members now and newly elected, they will still have their PRBs thanks to the Mayor's Motion and the self-interest of certain Councillors. When it comes to keeping what they have and getting Board fees to up their salaries dramatically every year or to taking trips at taxpayer expense, I do not see the Mayor and Council being shy about holding their hands out to receive more!

As to fiscal responsibility, is Eddie and Council any different than the CEO of the former GM and its Board? Unfortunately, we do not have the right to fire: the right of recall does not exist in Ontario's legislation!

Under our Mayor's watch, in the City's terms although they are not comparable, the unfunded liability went from $170M to $290M in only a few very short years. The economic consequences are so similar to the other financial fiasco, the WUC rates!

What did the Mayor and Council do about this for so many years other than to let it grow out of control and now the CUPE members have to take the hit so S&P can tell investors that Windsor's bond rating should not be cut.

What have they to gain by voting in favour of Eddie's counter-offer? Very little. We already know that both Jim and Jean do not like it with Jim already saying that he would recommend rejection. By knuckling under now, they merely open themselves up to more bargaining during the collective agreement period as in other cities. Moreover, we know that the City's next move will be lay-offs and the hiring of more part-time and temp employees.

Why not deliver the message now? Why be forced into another strike again down the road or unilateral City action with the UNION powerless to act on the members' behalf after this loss!

The Casino workers rejected a Casino offer years ago and now the taxi drivers did too. The accepted offer that was made subsequently was better than the one rejected even though the CAW leaders in both cases first recommended acceptance. Their members said NO!

Wouldn't that have to happen in this case? Something better and fairer would have to be offered by Eddie to gain acceptance. Eddie would not dare force a vote through the Labour Ministry since he would lose. I am not a labour law lawyer so I do not know what other tricks the Mayor could have up his sleeve but the CUPE lawyers should know and should be guiding the local CUPE branches.

However, and it is a real risk, Eddie could try and take away more to really put the screws on.

The ultimate would be to fire the workers if they did not return to work by a certain date and seek replacements. Do the Mayor and Council have the guts to do that? The answer is yes in the face of weakness but not if CUPE remains strong.

Eddie is not President Reagan and this is not the air traffic controllers strike. They were fired because they were involved in an illegal strike, not a lawful one. City Hall would be declaring war on the Labour Movement and not even the Premier would help him out. I am not sure that Eddie is quite ready to commit political suicide if he still wishes to run for office at whatever level.

To vote NO, does not mean the end of the world. It does mean getting respect for themselves after so many weeks and for public unions generally again.

I expect that the Unions would only be out several weeks more PROVIDED their leadership gets off their asses and starts pressuring City Hall. That is absolutely fundamental and the UNION leadership must agree to a strong course of action in front of their members. If not, then CUPE members should vote YES because continuing on without it would be a loser! There would be no pressure on City Hall to bargain at all to reach a reasonable resolution.

The Mayor and Council have had a free ride from CUPE for much too long. Strong and decisive action is needed by the CUPE leaders or else the workers may be out for months more . Let me repeat again some of the steps that I believe ought to be taken along with a major CUPE PR effort to win back Windsorites:

1) demand that the OLRB hearing on bad faith bargaining start up again now

2) demand the results of the City's internal investigation into the leak and that of the Integrity Commissioner

3) hire a forensic accountant to audit the City's books as the Mayor promised he would allow

4) get a legal opinion about suing for back pay as part of the OLRB case or separately

5) start a class action lawsuit over the PRBs

6) get a legal opinion about the Mayor's recent statements and whether they are actionable

7) point the finger of blame at the Mayor

8) remind Council that the next municipal election is coming up soon

Most importantly, recognize that Eddie is becoming irrelevant now. If the vote is a NO, he has lost his power. No wonder he is driving so hard and pressuring to have the vote. He must have it now or he is done.

The true power would then reside in Queen's Park with the Premier, Sandra and Dwight. CUPE has no choice but to pressure them now to pass back-to-work legislation or face the loss of two seats in Windsor! Simple as that. Nothing like having 1800 dedicated CUPE employees along with friends and family to scare a politican/Cabinet Minister or two!

Voting YES is easy. Voting NO means YES for more financial hardship, YES for more abuse from their employer, YES for more attacks by the Star and its columnists, YES for more citizen animosity.

Only people who are directly impacted as the CUPE members have been for almost 3 months can know how this all feels and only they can make the decision which in their hearts and minds is the right one.

There is no doubt that, due to the mismangement of the unfunded liabilities, the lack of economic diversification with a non-functioning Undevelopment Commission and the economic setback suffered by this City in mishandling matters like the border file, the City and CUPE will have to talk about their contract again sooner than later as in Mississauga. In the end, wouldn't it be better for CUPE to negotiate from a position of strength and equality that a NO vote would give them!

Before an election, they can overpower the politicians. Sandra and Dwight are very vulnerable. If CUPE only will remember that and use that to their advantage.

I would hate to be in the position of a CUPE member. Can you imagine the pressure before the meeting as the rumours swirl, being fed by parties who are not completely disinterested!

I can only wish them well in their deliberations. Whatever they ultimately choose is the right decision for them and should not be second-guessed.