Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Responsible Blogging

Thanks to CUPE for providing to me the information about the acceptance by their members of the proposed contract first amongst all the media in Windsor! I was informed that I received the first phone call so that I could BLOG officially that the strike was over. I did so at 6:25 PM on Friday.

I appreciated that because it means to me that I have succeeded in presenting a balanced view of the events in the strike, as many readers have written to me, and in providing a perspective that some in the traditional media chose to ignore.

Check this out from a comment by a Star reporter last week to understand what I mean:
  • "By now, you're likely aware CUPE rejected the city's offer, and the dispute is more polarized than ever.

    You really should check out this video made by Star photographer Jason Kryk, who was at the scene of Thursday's 10 a.m. vote at the Caboto Club.

    To quote someone in our newsroom: "Cooler heads are not prevailing."

    Jason had to take a lot of crap to get that footage. CUPE members were shouting at him, swearing at him, blocking him.

    I hate the unreasonable mentality that holds all Windsor Star staff responsible for the newspaper's editorials and columnists."

If that is not a terrible indictment of the Star's strike coverage out of the mouth of one of their own then I do not know what is!

What I dislike is the Star's arrogance, that they are so much better than we mere Bloggers as an example. Remember this remark when the connection between the Star and the Mayor's Office was disclosed by the Star during one of their online Forums (but never published for their general readership as far as I know)

  • "The Windsor Star: The Windsor Star editorial opinions are developed and finalized in the Publisher’s Office. They are developed in a group setting by a group usually composed of Publisher Jim Venney, Editor-in-Chief Marty Beneteau, Editorial Page Editor John Coleman and Karen Hall.

    We believe that even if one member of our group has a bias or conflict, the remainder of the group is in a position to offset that bias.

    We also believe this method in an organization setting actually results in opinion formation that is far less open to conflict of interest that is more possible in the world of say – individual blogs."

Pompous Twits!

It is not only the Star but the BLOGMEISTER who is subject to Editorial control. I have two people who watch over what I write and on several occasions have made me rewrite a BLOG or change the wording or change an image I wanted posted or in certain cases have forbade me to write a BLOG in the first place!

I go to these people when I have a concern about something I am doing as well and when I want a second opinion. Invariably, their opinion is correct.

I give you this background because of a BLOG I could have written before the strike vote. My concern was that if I BLOGGED it, the comments I would quote in it by the Mayor could be again be considered so inflammatory by strikers that it could prejudice the vote and result in a "NO" vote as happened with the Caboto fiasco.

What I had to balance was getting a BLOG out in public so people could read it as against waiting until after the vote. Were people going to be so angry that they would perhaps vote against their interests as happened last week or was it my duty to BLOG regardless of the consequences?

I made the decision not to BLOG. My decision was that CUPE workers should vote based only on whether the proposal was good or not. If I Blogged subsequently, CUPE members still had ways to satisfy any grudge that they may have.

I took the issue to my Editorial Board and sought their opinion. Fortunately they agreed with me. Their view was that "labour peace" in Windsor was more important at this time. The BLOG need not be run before the vote and the consequences of not doing so were the lesser of having people remain on strike for the wrong reasons.

I am not going to write the BLOG but just give you the gist of it.

Here is the email sent to me and the video posted on Youtube by Gavin

  • "From: Gavin Michael Booth
    Subject: Garbage is....GONE!!! - maybe this is interesting for your blog. Who hired them? Or didn't hire him... or who is doing this?

Here is the video

He asked in his posting:

  • "How Many Days? Day 833

    I could be wrong but I thought with the CUPE strike ongoing, and not being settled on June 16th, that this 3AM garbage pick up from the downtown Windsor Municipal trash containers seemed a bit out of place. What do you think?"

I remembered this National Post story:

  • "It is a stark contrast to the city of Windsor, which is more than two months into its own strike by about 1,800 municipal employees, including garbage workers. According to Mayor Eddie Francis, citizens frustrated by the striking union are tacitly supporting the city by managing their own garbage, paying to dump bags of trash at private sites, and in some cases even mowing weed-strewn parks that have been abandoned by striking staff...

    and since then, the bulk of residents have started disposing of garbage through legitimate alternative means, the mayor said. The city advertised private disposal services, which have become a popular option, and eventually opened up a couple of free public dump sites.

    Mr. Francis cited a "tremendous result," saying the city has been able to account for nearly 80% of all garbage - a factor that strengthens the city's position at the bargaining table, as citizens are not faced with the prospect of trash-strewn, foul-smelling streets.

    "A lot of people ... understood the city's position and in a show of support took it upon themselves to dispose of their own garbage," Mr. Francis said. The message to the city from residents, he added, is: "Don't cave. Don't capitulate. Represent us and we'll make sure the garbage is not an issue."

Pretty strong stuff and a wonderful endorsement of the City's postion I thought and a lot of trouble for CUPE. Citizen power at its finest was what I read into this. Citizens action on their own.

Then I saw this in the Toronto Star and I was shocked. It was published on July 24, the day of the ratification vote. I saw it online a few hours before the vote.

  • "Even though Windsor's 101-day civic strike could end today with a "yes" vote by union members on a new deal, the border city is way ahead of Toronto and its much shorter walkout on one contentious issue: stinky trash.

    Windsor's two temporary drop-off dumps have been cleared up nightly.

    "We're different from you guys," Mayor Eddie Francis told the Star yesterday as he outlined Windsor's back-to-work priorities, noting that it was expensive but worth it to have private haulers take garbage away after workers walked off the job in mid-April.

    "At the end of the day it's a service we need to provide. You can't have garbage in residential areas."

    As Toronto residents increasingly hold their noses going past scores of temporary dumps with more expected to open soon, the main concerns for getting Windsor back to normal are less visible – relieving exhausted non-union staff in the "key pressure points" of welfare offices, water treatment and water pumping stations."

Private haulers...what happened to citizen actions that the Mayor described so eloquently before? My immediate reaction was why would he say such a thing today of all days. Didn't he learn from last week? Was getting a quote in a Toronto newspaperpaer more important to him than being quiet until after the vote?

The story seemed to me to answer Gavin's questions of who the CUPE Garbage Angels were, who hired them and was it an illegal pick-up or not.

It also seemed to me to be rubbing it into the CUPE workers' faces to say that private haulers took away garbage not just in business areas but in residential areas as well. I wondered where that took place--the same area that hired its own security force as an example since they did not want to rely on Windsor Police alone--since I did not see it happening in my area of the City!

I certainly did not like the word "expensive" being used since that extra money could have gone to helping to settle the strike or formed part of my rebate. I also found it somewhat ironic since the City made a point of saying:

  • "The City of Windsor will NOT reimburse fees paid by you to dispose of your waste."

Again, just like with the CAO apology, the concern seemed to be with the non-union staff only, one of whom in a measure of complete disdain for his colleagues on strike flaunted one of his huge pay-cheques with all of the overtime money in the face of CUPE picketers as reported by Eh-Channel I believe.

Would that have made CUPE members angry if I had Blogged it? Absolutely YES. Could it have meant another NO vote. At the time I read it, and not knowing what was being offered, I was concerned that it might.

I could not take the chance and neither could my Editorial Board.

I think we made the right decision. And I think that is why I was contacted first!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Done Deal---CUPE Back To Work

It's Official

CAO Contest

A contest to replace the Mayor's Names contest.

I saw this on CKLW:

  • "City managers are getting prepped for the possibility of the 1800 workers coming back. Acting C-A-O Ronna Warsh says there's a lot to do, with swimming pools needing cleaning and day care centresrequiring a re-stock of food. She points out the overgrown parks won't all be mowed on the firstday back."
What a shocker, Acting CAO???

So where did John Skorobohacz, the CAO, go on this most important day in Windsor's future?

Let me know where you think he went and why. Best answer in my sole opinion wins that coffee and bagel at Timmies.

Another New BLOG

I just saw this one this morning.

Line of Sight: The Blog

Looks like the after-effects of the CUPE strike may linger on in ways not yet considered!

Did Eddie Blow It, Again

Oh Lord, couldn't he have stayed away for one more day or at least kept his mouth firmly closed!

Everyone knows that Eddie was calling the shots even if the City's negotiating Committee was meeting with the Mediator and CUPE's team but did he have to rub it in the faces of CUPE workers again. Before the vote, again. Does he really want this offer turned down like the last one, again?

He understood finally his negative role in the strike it seemed and how he polarized people
  • "Mayor Eddie Francis says both sides must be left alone in an effort to hammer out an agreement."

Yet, like a moth to the flame, he could not stay away:

  • "I was up all night waiting for this to happen,” said Francis, who drove to the Holiday Inn Select in the middle of the night after hearing the two sides were closing in on a possible agreement."

Clearly then, he had input BEFORE the final agreement was reached and right at the hotel too. He indeed deserves a Platinum Meddler award, one higher than gold. Why wouldn't he just use his Blackberry and pretend not to be involved. He could not even follow his own advice and warning.

But we know he cannot. He will have to claim subsequently that he made the big call at the Hotel to seal the deal.

Will workers again vote NO just to shove it in his face once again. I hope not. But will the NO vote be bigger than expected now. You better believe it.

And CUPE's favourite, Councillor Dilkens, may also contribute to a bigger than expected NO vote. He has just told them that it is a lousy deal since it is a pro-taxpayer and therefore an anti-Union deal:

  • "Ward 1 Coun. Drew Dilkens said he was hopeful the union would also ratify the agreement in Friday’s vote.

    But he cautioned that not all union members would likely be pleased.

    “I don’t think everyone’s going to be happy with every single item in the offer — I think it’s impossible to do that. But I think it’s a fair offer, and from my perspective, it’s something that’s also fair for the taxpayer,” Dilkens said.

It will be interesting as well to learn what was discussed if anything at the CUPE meetings about actions to be taken against the City after the strike is over. What I Blogged about before.

Think about it. Why would Eddie want to come down? Just for the glory? Not really.

I will bet one term in the Protocol is ending CUPE's OLRB complaints. Eddie just does not want to be cross-examined on his actions.

Will CUPE Vote "NO" Again

It would not surprise me if it happened at the ratification meetings on Friday. Another big NO vote unless the City Negotiating Team and the Mediator keep Eddie under wraps until the vote is over. Who wants another Mayoral screw-up.

And I could support that point of view easily provided certain actions are agreed to. I also believe, as I shall BLOG, that CUPE members can have their cake and eat it too with a much smaller risk that should be considered as well.

The end of the strike had been predicted to me over the weekend by some CUPE veterans when picket assignments this week were very late in coming out. Then a BBQ yesterday with no picketing I was told. Nothing other than a settlement had to be the explanation.

Word was out the other night that there was a deal as I BLOGGED but no one would give me "official" confirmation then. Afraid of being accused of a leak I guess.

I have already speculated a bit what might be in the offer from the City but one CUPE person already wrote to me early Thursday morning saying:
  • "Told it's not that great but will find out tomorrow [Friday]."

My best guess is that there will be a better Protocol, more protection for temps, no PRBs for new hires and increased signup bonuses and perhaps a bigger wage increase. Will Councillor Marra be screwed again or will that be dropped? Effectively it will be similar to what the City offered before with a bit more sweeteners because of Eddie's Protocol fiasco. Still in the circumstances, a big win for CUPE considering their Governmental Oppostion although it will not be portrayed that way in the media.

But who knows and why speculate.

What we do know is that the vote will NOT be a slam-dunk for going back to work since there are many angry CUPE members who will feel as if they have been sacrificed and sold out after being on strike for so long. Just watch the stories being spread that it was all done for Toronto!

What have they accomplished other than losing 3 months of pay and being abused by the Windsor Star and made the subject of attack by Windsorites?

In the short run, there is pain, a lot of it. In the long run, CUPE Windsor scared the hell out of the politicians and bureaucrats managing this file. They made Eddie look foolish and damaged his reputation with those who count.

Because of Eddie's inability to execute a plan properly and CUPE's pig-headedness in the face of massive opposition, the strike went on much longer than expected. There is no doubt that the union crushers will have to regroup. It will NOT be the push-over that they thought! In my opinion, CUPE Windsor saved themselves a lot of grief down-the-road by their strong stand although they may NOT appreciate it yet. And they helped workers across Canada.

It was presumptuous before for me to tell CUPE members how to vote and it is again. But when has that stopped me before from giving my opinion!

Senior was right this time around (but that does NOT mean that CUPE should join up with the CAW as some had hoped. His "FO" with Eddie sounded like pure theatre to me.)

  • "We had to make the necessary compromises to live to fight another day," he concluded.

    As difficult as it was -- Lewenza described it as "torturous" -- he knew when to fold 'em...

    But, said Parent, Lewenza knew the companies and the governments weren't bluffing. If he hadn't fought every step, the union would have lost more. Still, he knew he had to be flexible. He knew he had to both meet the demands and protect his members.

    "Put yourselves in the homes of the 9,000 members we represent and the 60,000 people in spinoff jobs," Lewenza told his bargaining committee.

    "This bargaining touched the heart and soul of what the union stands for -- protecting its members," he said in an interview this week."

There is no doubt that there is Government pressure on Unions. I spoke with a Government insider late last week who said that Sandra and Dwight had little impact on this situation since it was being run out of Toronto. I took that to me the Premier's Office but who knows the truth.

There is no way that CUPE could win with a well-thought out strategy against them and a $24M and counting strike fund in Eddie's hands.

But hanging in for 100 days....Wow!

There are too many hardship stories that I have heard so not wanting to continue on is a viable option. However, CUPE was prepared to continue last week and did. Why not do it again? Send a message...fight more.

If I truly believed that Union leadership had an aggressive plan or maybe any plan to win after a NO vote I would advocate for it. However, I see no sign of that as I have seen no sign of it throughout the strike. They have been outgunned completely with little help from their Ontario and National HQs that I can see.

In that case, why carry on and keep on losing salary when the fight will inevitably be lost. Helping other workers is terrific but does not pay the mortgage or buy food. I have not seen a flood of cash from other working unionists come pouring in to help out CUPE members who are struggling.

In my opinion, it is better for CUPE members to vote YES and to live to fight another day! And that day can be very soon if CUPE members have the guts to carry on outside of the collective agreement route.

NOTE: I expect that the Protocol will demand the end of OLRB claims against the City and it will be a deal-breaker if opposed. I am sure that you, dear reader, can guess why.

Instead, keep a salary coming, put a bit aside for a fight and do so collectively so no one person can be the target and disciplined would be my approach.

What exactly should be done. Let me explain.

I was out for dinner last night with my wife and daughter when by complete co-incidence I parked behind a Councillor's car. We saw each other and the Councillor jokingly asked me if I was "instructing Jean and Jim" and "was I running to be the CUPE President!"

I should have answered that I only write a BLOG so why give me this kind of smart remark. I confirmed that I did not instruct anyone and, being a bit mischievous, said I was not running for that office but for that of the Mayor of Windsor! (Remember that my name came up at the last CUPE meeting. I would never run or else my family would disown me!)

I did have a role in settling this strike but as a BLOGGER. I will take my credit in a separate BLOG but the important fact is that some at City Hall believe that I had a role and they know my litigation approach is a very strategic and an aggessive one.

With that background, understand that CUPE workers could still win more but the road to that additional gain is a difficult one with no certainty of success. But there is a good chance of winning or I would not be talking about it. It has to be carefully thought out and staged just perfectly with the right people with expertise doing the battling. Like a successful military operation.

CUPE workers have no choice in my opinion but to vote YES. However, if they do want their "day in court," there are other and less risky ways to achieve it.

It may well be that everyone is sick of this and just want to get on with their lives. I can respect that too.

To me the issue at the meeting is NOT which way the vote is going to go but what happens next! My opinion on this is just as clear. CUPE must keep on fighting but using a different tactic. The battle may have been partially lost on the surface but the war can continue on!

CUPE Generals and the troops just need some creative thinking, strategic advice and better planning. It could be fun to put on pressure elsewhere now.

Oh and in case you are wondering, I am very happy remaining a BLOGGER, not an instructor. Mind you, if the strike is over, I will have a lot of free time on my hands.

PS. If someone wants to invite me to the strike vote meetings as an Observer, I will NOT say NO but will vote YES.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mini-Gord's Border Wars

I just have to do it. Mini-Gord's column the other day and today were so bad, that I had to respond.

Who is rewriting history already? The border plus infrastructure projects plus crushing CUPE must be part of the E-Machine's pre-election campaign for Eddie for a federal run in Windsor West, Brian's riding or, if he chickens out, for his run for Mayor again for a third term.

I will do the July 21 column now and today's column shortly. Today's column was written because the Feds and Eddie really messed up with property valuations. I can only handle so much truth revelation at one time.

Ready, set...time to Fisk!

Border wars near end

By Chris Vander Doelen, The Windsor Star, July 21, 2009 10:38

Monday could easily have been a day of gloating for Mayor Eddie Francis and council for their handling of the international border file over the last six long years.

The announcement that the federal government will pay Windsor $34 million to acquire the former neighbourhood of Brighton Beach for a new bridge plaza site means the city's bitter border battles are finally coming to a close.

[Nothing has changed. The war has barely started with only a few lawsuits commenced so far. Wait until the parties get busy at it. We are looking at 20 years of grief, several years longer than the other FIRA lawsuit that was settled eventually. This time, the region will really suffer with no economic diversification plans around. Or jobs. Citizens for Jobs Now get moving already.]

The site chosen is the same one suggested by the city in 2005, when the federal bureaucrats who were running the show at the time were looking at 15 possible locations.

[No, no, no. This was the Mike Hurst/John Tofflemire site picked a decade ago. Eddie merely inherited what they already planned.]

The price paid for the land more than covers the $6.5 million Francis says city council has spent on lawyers and consultants to take on all comers during The Border Wars.

[Don’t you find it odd, the Feds who I am told did not want to pay for fees when Eddie asked for them directly are now doing so indirectly! Makes a mockery out of anyone thinking that the Governments were really fighting each other. It was a "family feud" to get more but they were all united against Matty Moroun!]

That's what the book should be called if anyone writes one about the Francis reign. For Windsor, bridges and tunnels and links to the U.S. have dominated the post 9-11 era.

[No, it should be entitled: How to fail as a Mayor without really trying and ruin my City at the same time. It could be turned into a musical for Broadway too.]

And it's been a knock-down, drag-'em-out fight the whole way.

[No, it has all been orchestrated, from Day 1]

Under Francis' leadership since 2003, Windsor has battled its surburban neighbours, fought the provincial and federal governments, stared down CP Rail and several gigantic pension funds, and last but far from least, soundly defeated the Ambassador Bridge and its supportive legions of U.S. congressmen, mayors, environmentalists, lawyers, bloggers and other assorted hangers-on.

[Oh Mini, the Ambassador Bridge has not yet started its battle with Eddie. It will be a short fight because Eddie does not want to be cross-examined on his record. As to the other battles, all phony wars.]

Many residents of the region long ago tired of the neverending argument and confrontation -- and the cost of waging a legal war on multiple fronts.

[Something correct. Congratulations]

Windsor's border bills started mounting when it hired David Estrin, the environmental law expert, to fight the Detroit River Tunnel Project. Then New York traffic expert Sam Schwartz got hired to write his famous report on border options for Windsor.

[That is not the only reason why Estrin was hired. Check your facts! The Schwartz Report was a waste other than being used as part of the stall game. The Feds blew it out of the water!]

The bill for the marathon Ontario Municipal Board battle over the DRTP alone topped $1.3 million.

[Who do you think discovered what was really going on that started the OMB matter! It was NOT the Mayor although he and several Councillors played a major role when it was disclosed.]

Say what you will about mayor Francis and his legalistic approach to the city's interests in the long battle over a new crossing, but it's almost over. And it's finally paying major dividends.

[Stop, stop, stop. Mini, you have to stop already. Even Gord did not make me this angry. The money spent has achived little other than helping to stall the economic redevelopment of this area and the creation of jobs. What did the mllions do for Greenlink? Eddie has no choice but to cave over that.]

A long string of dominoes has to fall yet before a new bridge opens to carry traffic from Brighton Beach to Delray, Mich.

The environmental assessment has to be completed (target date: August); the details of a public-private partnership have to be worked out, governance and ownership must be established, financing arranged, a design must be selected, and contracts put out to tender.

Any one of those remaining steps could be delayed by months as unforeseen hurdles come into view -- which is why no official at any level of government will commit to a start date. They just don't know when construction can start.

[Ha, ha ha. Whatever happened to 2013. They cannot commit because there is no truck traffic and no P3 money. Oooops you forgot about a lawsuit or two as well!]

In the meantime, Francis says, the city's return on its $6.5-million legal investment tops 2,667 per cent. So far.

[Oh no. Funny math numbers now to justify the waste of money that could have paid for new hires PRBs for years and not caused this CUPE strike!]

Windsor got $50 million for the Walker Road underpass; $50 million more for the Howard Avenue underpass, which sees a construction start this week; $20 million for a new tunnel plaza; $4 million for the pedestrian walkway over Huron Church Road; $34 million for the bridge plaza.

[That was all part of the $300M BIF money for which the expenditure of legal fees was irrelevant. The money for the Tunnel Improvements was part of Eddie's first agreement years ago and the Improvements have NOT been started since the City has no money to do it. Eddie's Detroit Tunnel deal collapsed with the waste of more legal fees]

Total so far: $158 million. "We didn't have any of that when this started."

[That is wrong. We had the BIF money under Hurst, $300M worth of it!]

The mayor resisted the temptation to say "I told you so" Monday to me or anyone else who has criticized him for the millions spent on legal advice.

[He had to resist. He could not say it!]

The huge outlay was necessary, Francis says, "because the residents have a right to be represented. It's been a long process, but there's a real strategy we're following."

[Funny, the Councillors I have dealt with have no idea what the strategy is unless making it up as you go along is one]

Council's strategy is "maximizing the return" for Windsor taxpayers, the mayor says.

Was it tough to take the criticism, which often bordered on personal abuse? "No. When you believe what you're doing is what is best for the city, the results speak for themselves."

[Res ipsa loquitor would have been more black letter law lawyerly like]

Francis credits the change in power in Ottawa in 2006 for breaking the logjam that characterized border discussions under the Liberal government.

"When you compare this (Conservative) government to the previous government, these guys don't want to just talk about it -- they want to get it done," he said.

[Well of course if you are going to run for the Conservatives against Brian Masse. A nice shot at any possible Liberal candidates too except he forgot some of the nice things Paul Martin said.]

The most helpful person to Windsor, the mayor says, has been Transportation Minister John Baird. "Baird has been great. He's been amazing. He's a hands-on, no-nonsense 'let's-make-it-happen' guy."

[No mention of "A+" Jeff Watson. Poor Jeff and the canal support too. He should know now he was a mere pawn to be used. Except Baird declared war on the Ambassador Bridge and did not follow the well-planned Louis Ranger path to minimize litigation. Under his watch the DRIC Bridge was postpoed for years too.]

What word should we use to describe how Francis has handled the border file? A few spring to mind: determined, combative, stubborn, inspired, lucky.

Maybe all of those adjectives are accurate, plus a few.

[Like [Expletive deleted] and destructive of Windsor]

Does the mayor feel vindicated? "We're not done yet." But he was smiling. Which means yes.

[Oh no, more of the same! I am crying. Councillors HHHHEEEELLLPPPPP!!!!!!!]

Is The CUPE Strike Over

I had heard about a possible deal around 9 PM last night but could not get confirmation. I was NOT going to BLOG any such speculation without official word!

I was glad to see this morning the CUPE press release that follows!

It will be interesting to discover what was achieved especially about PRBs, the supposed reason for the long strike.

I expect that the approval of the contract will be difficult when Jean Fox says:
  • "We've done the best job that we can do," said Local 543 president Jean Fox, who represents inside workers."

You know it is a huge compromise when there is no comment about worker victory yet! At least she is honest about it!

Amazing what can be achieved though when the Gold Meddle Winner is not involved and let's his negotiating team do its job. Councillor Postma was right about how their hands were tied!

Has the Union dropped the unfair negotiating claim as part of the deal? I would expect so in exchange for a complete amnesty for CUPE members. It better include Police charges as well since Eddie is head also of the Windsor Police Services Board. A good trade-off.....workers will have to decide that.

PRBs for new hires...probably dropped too in consideration of a nice sign-up bonus for workers. Will workers now support a 2-tier system after their personal financial suffering? Or will they continue on and now try to crush the Mayor since he was told obviously by the Mediator and his team to butt out! There are ways to go after him later if personal revenge is the motive.

More to BLOG about later!

CUPE: Tentative Deal Reached in 100 Days Windsor Strike

WINDSOR, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 23, 2009) - At 6:30am Thursday morning, after a marathon bargaining session lasting close to 48 hours, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the City of Windsor reached a tentative settlement in the city's15 week strike.

CUPE Locals 82 and 543 will present the terms of settlement to union members and ask them to vote on the package at general membership meetings planned for Friday July 24th. Results are expected to be made public the same day.

No details of the proposal will be released by either party until they are made known to union members and the ratification votes take place.

CUPE local 82, representing outside workers, have been on strike for 100 days, starting Wednesday, April 15th, making it the second longest strike in the city's history. Their colleagues of CUPE local 543, the inside workers, joined the picket line on Saturday, April 18th.

Mayor's Names Contest Postponed

Oh the shame of it but it is NOT my fault. Someone else is going to have to fall on the sword for me, take the hit. You cannot blame me.

OMG....I am starting to sound like the Mayor now.

Look. I set up this contest in good faith. I do not have access to City Rules and Procedures, Protocols if you will. I have to assume that our Mayor is familiar with City systems by being trained properly, especially by prize-winning programs.

Here is my problem. Another one of those emails. This one referred to "THE CORPORATION OF THE CITY OF WINDSOR Acceptable Use Policy" at I think it is the one in force now but I do not know. If it is not, then I would be so embarrassed. Twice. By running the contest in the first place and then taking the other action I will describe later.

The purpose of the Policy:
  • "The Acceptable Use Policy (hereinafter referred to as “this policy”) identifies roles, responsibilities, and requirements for the appropriate use of corporate technology. The goal of this policy is to protect the Corporation of the City of Windsor from legal liability and to reduce the risk of damage, loss, or theft to corporate technology resources."

In looking through it, here is what I found:

"User Responsibilities:

  • • Understand, accept, and abide by this policy including its associated procedures and Governing Rules and Regulations for each type of corporate technology resource.
    • Ensure all activity using corporate technology resources, whether from work or remotely, conforms to this policy and all corporate codes of conduct.
    • Know that suspected infractions of this policy may be reported to his/her immediate supervisor or to the Concerned Citizen/Concerned Employee Hotline.
    • Conform to the requirements of this policy or failing to do so may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination, legal action and/or due criminal process.

Policy Violations:

  • Any individual who willfully or purposefully does not abide by the sections pertaining to him/her is considered to be in violation of this policy. Additionally, using any corporate technology for the following purposes is considered a violation of this policy:

    Representing oneself as someone else through the use or misuse of technology.

Corporate Authority:

  • Disciplinary action may be taken in accordance to the severity and frequency of the violation to this policy. This discipline could include removing access to the technology resource, termination of employment, and billing the employee for misuse of the technology.

    • Enlist law enforcement officers or bring legal action against a violator according to the severity of the breach of compliance with the policy.


  • 1.3 Failure to conform to the requirements of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination, legal action, and/or possible criminal proceedings.


  • 3.1 This policy applies to the following users of technology resources owned, leased, or licensed to the Corporation:

    • Employees
    • Management
    The Mayor and City Council"

Oh there is so much more but you see the issue. I cannot aid and abet in the possible violation of City policy by providing new names. It would not be right.

Oh I so hope that this provision was followed, although it is not strictly applicable it seems since who supervises the Mayor. However, it would allow the contest to continue:

  • 5.1.5 Policy Exceptions, Clarifications, and Formal Challenges: A user making a policy exception request shall follow proper process by making the request to his/her immediate supervisor. Likewise, a user may request a clarification of this policy or its related procedures at any time and shall follow proper process by making the request to their immediate supervisor. If necessary the supervisor will bring the request forward.

Until I hear from the City officially, the contest will have to be in limbo I am afraid. It may be the Integrity Commissioner who is the proper authority to allow the contest to carry on or perhaps a Resolution of Council. I just do not know.

So please do not send me any more entries until this is clarified. However, here are some names that have come in so far, G-rated only:

  • Cleverly Pretentious
  • Corrupted Process
  • Circus Politico
  • Commander Propaganda
  • Conquistador Conspirator-eh
  • Continuous Paininthe
  • Contemptuous Perfecto
  • Contravene Process
  • Czar Presumptuous
  • Canal Project
  • Chakide Pestor
  • Certified Phony
  • Protagonist Commandant
  • Pompous Chump
  • Pernicious Caesar
  • Chase Power
  • Crappy Protocols
  • Crass Predictability
  • Certainly Pitiful
  • Caboto Precipice
  • Crummy Politician
  • Czar Potenate
  • Crisis Prig
  • Child's Play
  • CEO Phoney
  • citys1.problem @
  • crass.potentate@
  • cant.produce@
  • clever.procrastinator@
  • crossing.prohibitor@
  • canal.promoter@
  • costs.prohibitive@
  • What my children call him. That would be "THAT MAN".
  • What my grandmother refers to him by [Expletive deleted]. ps, and don't even try to eliminate my grandmother from participating 'cause you have already been caught red-handed using the word [Expletive deleted]... so either keep her in the competition or prepare to have your blog under investigation by the "blog-rating police".
  • Name: Cash Pockets E-Mail:
  • Name: Conspiracy Planner E-Mail:
  • Name: Cocky Prince E-Mail:
  • Name: Picket Crusher E-Mail:
  • Name: Ty Twad (Tight Wad) E-Mail:
  • Name: Chief Puppeteer E-Mail:
  • Name: City Prince E-Mail:
  • Name: Colin Power E-Mail:
  • Actually, I dont drink coffee. It's just that Eddie is SUCH and INSPIRATION!!!
  • Hope the strike doesn't end before I complete my PC list (and PC does NOT stand for "politically correct")
  • Love your blogs Ed! Keep up the good work! If my entry is chosen as the 'winning name', could I exchange the coffee for a hot chocolate or Ice-T?
  • Who cares about the coffee? Just making this stuff up is reward in itself! Corporate Pinhead
  • Given his last lump sum offer, how about... Cash Piddling
  • Given the content of Eddie's protocols... Clemency Phobic
  • We don't have time to worry about H1N1 virus, we have Eddie, our.... Chronic Plague
  • I am sure we can all agree that Eddie is really our... Chief Problem
  • It wouldn't do much to hide his identity... Council Puppeteer
  • Describes his contribution to the negotiations... Crisis Prolonged
  • Then there is... Captain Pathetic Hmmmm....everyone would know who it is
  • CUPE Persecuter....there has to be a law against what he is doing to us.

Someone even wrote a song:

  • UNION BUSTER to the tune of “Oh Susannah Don’t You cry For Me!”

    I am the mayor of Windsor
    and the bestest mayor around,
    For 15 weeks I’ve worked so hard
    to keep the union down.
    Arbitration is impossible
    The choice I’ll never choose
    Even though it’s there and just and fair
    The fact is we might lose.

    Union Buster, that’s what I came to be.
    They didn’t know what they would get
    when they elected me.

    You know I’ll save you money
    Of this I made a vow,
    By stealing it from retirees
    Thirty years from now.
    The taxpayers all love me,
    My praises they do sing
    Even though the money I have spent
    had gone to pay George King.

    Union Buster, is what I came to be.
    They didn’t know what they would get
    when they elected me.

    I’ve got right-wing pals and journalists
    With whom I made my bed,
    Who say where there’s a union
    You will see a left-wing Red!
    And all those city services
    for which they do implore
    Can go to private contracts
    for which you will pay more!

    Union Buster, that’s what I came to be.
    They didn’t know what they would get
    when they elected me.

    Yes, I’ve muzzled City Councillors
    And silence is their fate
    ‘Cause I’d like to run this city
    Like I’d run a feudal state.
    Should anyone oppose me
    Well, they’ll never get the floor
    And if they come to talk to me
    I’ll boot them out the door.

    Union Buster, that’s what I came to be.
    They didn’t know what they would get
    when they elected me.

And the sender sent me the lyrics from Viva La Vida by Cold Play:

  • I used to rule the world
    Seas would rise when I gave the word
    Now in the morning I sweep alone
    Sweep the streets I used to own

    I used to roll the dice
    Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
    Listen as the crowd would sing:
    "Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"

    One minute I held the key
    Next the walls were closed on me
    And I discovered that my castles stand
    Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

    I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
    Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
    Be my mirror my sword and shield
    My missionaries in a foreign field
    For some reason I can't explain
    Once you go there was never, never an honest word
    That was when I ruled the world

    It was the wicked and wild wind
    Blew down the doors to let me in
    Shattered windows and the sound of drums
    People couldn't believe what I'd become

    Revolutionaries wait
    For my head on a silver plate
    Just a puppet on a lonely string
    Oh who would ever want to be king?

    I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
    Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
    Be my mirror my sword and shield
    My missionaries in a foreign field
    For some reason I can't explain
    I know Saint Peter will call my name
    Never an honest word
    But that was when I ruled the world
    (Ohhhhh Ohhh Ohhh)

    I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
    Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
    Be my mirror my sword and shield
    My missionaries in a foreign field
    For some reason I can't explain
    I know Saint Peter will call my name
    Never an honest word
    But that was when I ruled the world
    Oooooh Oooooh Oooooh

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Names for The Mayor Contest

I am glad that the Star picked up my BLOG about the Mayor's other identity. Now we need someone to ask the Mayor what other names he uses and what about Councillors and Senior Managers.

Moreover, he should be asked if he and the others use other "non-City" email addreses in which he or they undertake City business.

What do I mean by that. Let's assume that the City has retained a Buy Foreign consultant named ABCXXX1234 Company. It has its own website... and its own email address [Name of Person]

Does anyone at City Hall use that email to transact City business? If so, then who and why and what was sent or received.

A cynical friend of mine suggested that this might a way around the Municipal Freedom of Information Act ie unless the MFOI request was very specific, then only certain emails would have to be produced.

The last thing we need is a Kwame text-messaging-type scandal in Windsor.

Back to the contest.

Clearly, the Mayor's cover has been blown. He needs a new name and maybe a new email address too. But the poor man is so busy...counting the $34M to make sure the Feds did not short-change him, not meddling but being involved in the CUPE negotiations, being galvanized about our 26th place City-ranking finish, watching the Tunnel going into financial ruin and so on.

I need your help, dear reader, especially CUPE workers who, according to mini-Gord, are tanning themselves on the picket line. Send me names and email addresses that you think the Mayor should be using now.

I will post your responses provided they are suitable for a G-rated BLOG. The winner will be the one that I like the best. Your prize---coffee and a bagel at Tim Hortons.

Now what could be better than that. Oh and to protect anonymity, the winner's name will NOT be published and his/her identity protected especially if it is a CUPE worker. If more than one person submit the winning entry, I might even pick up the price of a second coffee too but no promises.

Preference goes to a name using the initials C & P such as "Carter Pierce." That's a good one too. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) And no, I already thought of Canadian Pacific.

Yes, yes, no chances of being disciplined. Maybe it should be a Back to Work Protocol term too!

The Speech That Gave It All Away

Forget public vs. private ownership for a minute. Take an overview.

In a strange twist of irony, left-wingers ought to be applauding both the CUPE workers and Matty Moroun. They both have a lot in common, fighting for individual rights against the forces of an Oppressive Government structure out to defeat them and to take away what they earned through their hard work over the years.

For one, it is benefits and salary, for the other, his business. For both, respect.

Shocked, you should not be:

  • Both are fighting "City Hall"
  • Government is trying to crush both
  • Money is no object in order to win since it is taxpayer money being used
  • There has been a Government plan to do so for a very long time
  • Fairness has been a victim in both struggles
  • Propaganda is completely one-sided with distorted information being given out as disinformation as if it is the truth.

I have explained to you my theory concerning the reason for the public service strikes and why CUPE Windsor is a target. [BLOG Monday, July 06, 2009, "It Is Time For CUPE To Surrender"] Now let me talk about the border file.

Another report came out yesterday from the US and Canadian Chambers of Commerce:

  • "Finding the Balance: Shared Border of the Future"

Nothing in there about building another bridge in our area. The Free Press reported:

  • Border regulations threaten 10 million jobs"

As the Chambers stated, here is the problem and it has nothing to do with the need for a second bridge:

  • "Feedback from Canadian and U.S. businesses shows an increase in border costs and a “thickening” of the border resulting from increased wait and inspection times, the imposition of direct fees for crossing the border, increased complexity in regulatory requirements, and costs that arise from participation in trusted shipper andtrusted traveler programs.

    The layering of these costs has made crossing the border more expensive for both businesses and travelers alike."

Solve those issues and there is no need to spend billions on infrastrucutre.

But of course, that does not fit in with the Government objectives for Windsor/Detroit and will be ignored.

Here is what to me gave away the Government plans respecting Matty Moroun. The speech is remarkable, especially coming from a person in this high a capacity.

I had promised to post this BLOG before. However, there were too many intervening events so it had to wait.

It sets out clearly in one place at one time what the border fight amongst the Governments and the Bridge Company is all about. And how the public on both sides of the border have been used and abused and millions in tax dollars wasted.

I believe that I have done a pretty good job in trying to uncover what is really going on in the border file, what's motivating the different players.

I am not at all suggesting that I have everything correct nor that there are no more secrets. I am sure that more will be revealed as time goes on especially as the litigation discovery process is carried on and documents are disclosed and people testify under oath.

However, a lot of the themes I have suggested in my BLOGs have now been confirmed as driving forces in a speech given by Ontario MoT's Bruce McCuaig, You remember him of the Joint Management Committee fame back in late 2002/early 2003. He is now Deputy Minister of Transportation in Ontario so you can see how important a role he has played throughout

Read the excerpts of his speech carefully as I fisk along in it. You will note:

  • the desperation that Canada has to take over the Ambassador Bridge. After 50 years of effort, it is viewed as now or never
  • the economic nationalism involved with the Corridors and Gateways, I won't say anti-Americanism by trying to crush an American firm because that will get Ottawa all upset
  • the hypocrisy of P3s which can only mean excessive profits for the private partner at taxpayer expense
  • note that planning began on a new crossing a decade ago before the ink on the Ambassador Gateway project which was designed to accommodate Moroun's Enhancement Project was hardly dry. The Bridge Company people should be furious!
  • the myth of capacity concerns is perpetuated as the justification, the DRIC conceived plaza size designed to inflame the community and knock out the Bridge Company and the lie of urgency and action as the DRIC bridge is delayed when push comes to shove are repeated as if they are the truth
  • lack of guts to use 2015 now as the new so-called completion date since that means more opposition is need to stall off the Bridge Company and to admit that Governments have misled the public for years with their 2013 "target" only date
  • confirmation is again given that the Feds have only committed to building a road as Minister Baird mentioned at the FCM meeting [and now paying for plaza lands].
Speaking notes for
Bruce McCuaig, Deputy Minister
Ministry of Transportation
NASCO Conference 2009 Quebec

 We’re seeing the expansion of NASCO in Canada as Ontario is now sitting at the table with Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Hope we can learn from each other in looking for efficiencies on both sides of the border.

 The SuperCorridor links three countries: Mexico, the United States and Canada.
 It encompasses a transportation network that stretches from the ports of Mexico through 11 U.S. states and connects with eastern and western Canada.
 Canada alone has three main gateways: Ontario-Quebec in central Canada, the Atlantic gateway on the east coast and Asia-Pacific on the west.
 Although vast distances separate them, Canada’s gateways are similar in that trade must flow seamlessly and efficiently through them and by all modes of transportation.
 People and goods move through Ontario’s border infrastructure making our gateways key enablers of the national economy.
 Infrastructure investments, as well as Ontario’s transportation policy, regulatory and operational improvements identify its strategic importance.

As I have suggested before, the 50 year old policy of Canada requires that we control the gateways into the US. That was recently reflected in a Gateways and Corridors policy as enunciated by Transport Canada when Lawrence Cannon was the Minister.

 In addition, there is particular value in the ongoing strategic co-ordination of efforts between Ontario and Quebec:
1. Our partnership with federal government and private sector to develop Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor strategy;

Except NOT the Ambassador Bridge Company who is an existing border operator. They have to be replaced by another private operator in a P3! Why—Governments are afraid of them and because Governments can earn a huge amount of money upfront and do not care about what the total cost will be to taxpayers over the term of the P3. It is all financial manipulation that fools mere citizens.

 These efforts support economic growth and ensure Ontario’s transportation system remains a key driver for economic competitiveness.

 Working towards a more business-friendly regulatory environment and reducing barriers and impediments to movement of people and goods through greater harmonization are top priorities for Ontario.

Except legislation like Bill C-3 that the Feds introduced.

 There is also a growing realization that no one jurisdiction or sector can act alone to effect desired change to the transportation network. It requires private and public sector focus and partnership.

Except NOT the Ambassador Bridge Company who is an existing border operator. They have to be replaced by another private operator in a P3!

 We need to develop integrated solutions and forge strategic partnerships for working together to advance an integrated solution.
 Innovation and change move us forward. And because change is constant, we never cross the finish line.

Except NOT the Ambassador Bridge Company who is an existing border operator. In the DRIC process there seemed to be little recognition of how the border needs were changing with technology and matters such as FAST, NEXUS, pre-processing and moving inspections away from the border.

 Fast forward to today: business is managed within a global economy.
 We cannot be shortsighted about any of this nor stand still. We need to be flexible in responding to changing needs.
 We must also take decisive action and be willing to take on formidable challenges if we are to secure prosperous futures for our respective jurisdictions – jurisdictions that are increasingly interconnected.

Ontario is concerned about the Atlantic and Pacific Gateways where the Feds seem to be much more involved to the disadvantage of Ontario manufacturers who use the Ambassador Bridge as their entrée into the US.

 An excellent example for Ontario is the planning underway for a proposed new Detroit River International Crossing in the Windsor-Detroit Gateway.
 The planning effort for new crossing of the Detroit River began in 1999 with our colleagues in Michigan.

It started a decade ago for heaven's sake.

At the same time as Governments were supporting the Ambassador Gateway project, which could handle in itself twice the volume of the existing crossing, they were also acting to undermine it. The project was called Michigan’s first and biggest public-private partnership in the best sense of the word. They all knew that the Bridge Company was moving forward and spending its money to improve the flow of traffic.

 Currently, the Windsor-Detroit Gateway consists of four crossings: the Ambassador Bridge, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry and the Detroit River Rail Tunnel.
 The Ambassador Bridge alone handles 99 per cent of all Windsor-Detroit cross-border truck traffic.
 Commercial traffic over the Ambassador Bridge is more than twice the volume over Blue Water Bridge at Sarnia – Port Huron (2nd busiest crossing in Ontario).
 Sheer volume of trade that passes through Windsor-Detroit was unimaginable when the Ambassador Bridge was built in 1929.

That is the point isn’t it! It is at less than 50% capacity now with all of the changes in border operation, of which it is ranked #1, over 80 years. Adaptation has been possible without the need for a second bridge to increase capacity. A new bridge is needed to improve traffic flow.

 The Windsor-Detroit Gateway is now at a crucial turning point in its history with the next chapter ready to unfold.

No, only in the minds of certain players who committed to taking over the Bridge many years before and are desperate now because it is not happening. If it does not happen, then for generations Canada will be out of luck it is being made to appear! There is absolutely no recognition that the interests of Canada and the Bridge company are the same; keep as much traffic as possible going smoothly over the border.

 Two messages in the video are worth repeating:
1. “We have listened and now is the time to build for the future.”
2. “The solution is here and the time to move forward is now.”
 These messages pose a sense of urgency and opportunity for Windsor-Detroit due to three distinguishing features:
1. The crossing is an economic lifeline;
2. It is the only major crossing not connected freeway-to-freeway;
3. We need expanded border-crossing capacity in addition to existing system. Detroit-Windsor Tunnel cannot handle full-size commercial vehicles. Next bridge for commercial carriers is 70 kilometres up river at Sarnia – Port Huron.

The Urgency is a false one since capacity is NOT an issue. How can it be if DRIC is delayed for at least 2 years? Why isn’t the Enhancement Project being expedited then? If traffic has crashed, what is the capacity issue? Why are the investment grade traffic surveys being kept secret? The answer is obvious.

 We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address a strategic transportation issue and Ontario is taking a leadership role.

As above. Vested interests made commitments.

Windsor-Detroit Gateway solution
 Canadian and U.S. government officials have repeatedly affirmed the priority of this project and all remain focused on key objectives to move us forward.

For how many years have these governmental platitudes been given and now DRIC is delayed with the 2013 time-period a lie, a target not a reality.

 Access Road/Windsor-Essex Parkway

 An innovative combination of below-grade road design and short tunnels in the proposed Windsor-Essex Parkway will address current deficiencies and provide substantial benefits to economy, environment and quality of life.
 1.8 kilometres of the proposed highway will be covered by 11 tunnel sections and 300 acres of new green space

The Delray myth continues unless a deal has already been made to enrich a P3 operator for no reason with billions of taxpayer dollars.

Inspection Plaza

 New customs facility for Windsor Gateway requires 50 hectare footprint with sufficient space to accommodate future needs and state-of-the-art processing.

A phony number designed to eliminate the Bridge Company.

New Bridge

 Delivered through a public-private partnership, cable stayed or suspension-type design will rank among North America’s longest structures and be an iconic feature for this important gateway,
 Situated approximately two kilometres south west of the existing Ambassador Bridge, the proposed new bridge will provide a needed alternative to any of the existing crossings.

2 kms away after the Americans have spent a quarter of a billion taxpayer dollars on the Ambassador Gateway project. Absurd. Why is it needed? All justifications are phony. There is no P3 legislation in Michigan so far. It is nothing more than a a way for the Canadian Government to control the crossing indirectly so that when the P3 operator has financial problems, Canada can take over the project ownership completely with no Congressional fuss.

 Recognize that issues remain. Legal action, for example, underway in U.S.

This will be embarrassing and finally will reveal the secrets as people are forced to testify under oath.

 Gold standard approach to community consultation is worthy foundation of the Detroit River International Crossing project.

Except the Ontario Ministers will not talk with the Bridge Company but will talk with proponents in secret.

 When the necessary approvals are in place, we hope to begin advance works construction later this year. Subject to approvals, full construction is anticipated to start in late 2010 or early 2011.

Back to hoping and anticipating now. No completion date is given since 2013 is dead.

 Government of Canada made initial cost-share commitment and Ontario’s share has been allocated in recent 2009 provincial budget.

Only money allocated is for the road and only $400M federally. P3 money may never be found unless Government guarantees are given. The P3 return will be well above Government financing costs allowing the favoured P3 operator to rip-off taxpayers for huge profits for many years.

 Given the strategic importance of Ontario’s border infrastructure and the role of the Windsor-Detroit Gateway in our provincial and national economies, the Windsor-Essex Parkway is the number one economic infrastructure priority for Ontario.

How many years have we heard that and now it is delayed. The Bridge Company has solved all problems for Governments anyway.

AFP Delivery of Windsor-Essex Parkway
 Government of Ontario is planning alternative financing and procurement for Windsor-Essex Parkway project, provided we see value for money.
 Private financing builds the infrastructure while Ontario maintains control and ownership.
 Government brings in private-sector expertise, ingenuity and rigour to manage and renew Ontario’s public infrastructure.

The Ontario Auditor General has already slammed the handling of P3 projects yet the Government marches on. Eg with OMERS in St. Catherines when others P3 parties pulled out.

Since this has been described as the first AFP road project, we know it will be a financial mess for taxpayers already. The excuse has been made in advance of the boondoggle.

One Person's Opinion

No Meddlers Allowed

Remember when Eddie said this:
  • "It keeps putting us back," Mayor Eddie Francis says of the extra hands in the kitchen. The meddlers are "a serious impediment" to reaching a deal, he says."

Now he says this as reported by CKLW. This has to take the prize as the funniest line of the CUPE strike and the saddest

  • "The city's negotiating team is working on a counter-proposal as talks continue to end the 14-week-old strike by municipal workers. Neither side is commenting on how negotiations are progressing today. Mayor Eddie Francis says negotiators for both sides must be left alone in an effort to get an agreement."

If only he had thought about this months ago!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Did The Star Get The CUPE Memo

Oh, Oh. Will the Corrections section of the Star soon be the place to go first when one reads the Star.

Read a story the first day and then read the corrected story the next!

Is this another error? Incorrect information in the main headline story on Page 1 that will inflame an anti-CUPE reaction by Windsorites and in CUPE members too who will believe that their executive may have sold them out.

Note the time and date of the CUPE Notice too.

  • Monday, July 20 - 3:45 p.m. - Update from Jean Fox, President - Many of you have been wondering about the quote in the Windsor Star where Jean Fox was quoted as saying P.R.B.'s were removed from the table. Be advised that the question that was posted to Jean was 'Were post-retirement benefits off the table in the last package' - to which Jean responded yes. This was indeed the truth for the last package. In no way was it meant to say that P.R.B.'s were permanently removed from the table - the P.R.B.'s are still an outstanding item for collective bargaining tomorrow (July 21). Be advised that both CUPE Local 82 and CUPE Local 543 will be in mediated bargaining tomorrow (Tuesday, July 21) at 9 a.m.

    85% of the 543 membership rejected the Corporation's offer on July 16. Those results were released after discussion with CUPE National at app. 7:30 p.m. on July 16 where CUPE National advised both Jean and Jim to go ahead and release the numbers.


  • "One large obstacle stands in way of settlement: How much?

    Now that both sides in the city strike have confirmed the only real obstacle to a deal is cold, hard cash, one key question remains: How much? "

    ...Multiple sources say the difference between the two contract proposals is about $800,000 over four years or $200,000 per year — less than one dollar per resident. A back-to-work protocol yet to be hammered out could increase the costs borne by taxpayers...

    Union leaders said the city needed to sweeten what one of them described as a “terrible offer” and Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis said that the lump sum payout offered by the city “was not large enough” to take away the sting workers felt from losing the battle on post-retirement benefits."
Why wasn't the CUPE Notice published and why didn't reporters question Jean Fox? What is true and what is not. I do not know any more.

Why Eddie Really Wants A Canal

I do sometimes write several BLOGs at a time in a day when there is a lot to write about in order to try and stay ahead. I only post two per day generally, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, knowing that you do not have the time to read more than one BLOG per email. I intend to post all of them but often these days new stories appear and certain ones just seem to go to the back burner.

This is one of them that I wrote in mid-May if you can believe it. I think it helps explain the obscene amount that the Feds paid Eddie for Brighton Beach. As a Windsorite I am pleased. As a Canadian taxpayer, I am appalled at the gross over-expenditure of my money.

This demonstrates to me in no uncertain terms that the Governments, Canada over this and Ontario with the P3 DRIC road, will waste as much money as is needed to try and beat Matty Moroun instead of sitting down and doing a deal with him.

Reminds me of how negotiations work on the CUPE deal with Governments united to crush public serive unions.

The story is not exactly accurate as you can tell now, but close enough.


Darn CAW types. So what if it concerns their pensions. Don’t they understand the big investment opportunity they cost the Mayor! Couldn’t they have waited until after the holiday weekend before they did that sit-in at Dwight Duncan’s office. He lost out on a chance to do some wheeling and dealing with the PM and Premier on Friday.

I heard from three different sources that the Premier was coming down here last Friday. Was it to discuss Greenlink, the canal, the jail, Red Bull, the CUPE strike or all of those plus other matters. Was the Prime Minister coming too since they had the joint announcement in Toronto on Friday.

I think the answer has to be that they were coming but for the sit-in. They did not want to get into the middle of that with the CAW and GM negotiating again.

They would have been coming since Minister Tony Clement announced:
  • OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- 05/14/09 -- Today, the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, announced the launch of the Community Adjustment Fund in Ontario. Communities in Ontario experiencing the effects of the current global recession can find relief in the Community Adjustment Fund, an economic diversification program that is part of Canada's Economic Action Plan (see attached Backgrounder).

    In Ontario, the Community Adjustment Fund will provide $348.9 million over two years to support adjustment measures in communities affected by the global economic downturn. In 2009-10, this funding for Ontario will total up to $174.2 million…

    Today, the government announced the first allocation under the program, for projects submitted by municipalities and not-for-profit organizations:

    - $100 million for Southern Ontario projects through an intake process, with projects to be completed by March 31, 2010…

    Projects in communities with a population of less than 250 000 will be eligible for support and will be given higher priority if the community:

    - is rural and supported by a single industry;
    - has experienced an increase in Employment Insurance beneficiaries equal to or greater than 20 percent over a one-year period; and
    - has experienced major layoffs resulting in significant job losses.”

You know, it would not have surprised me to have heard about some money being given to a project under this Initiative that might just have tied into the canal vision even though the entire canal could not possibly be done within the short time-frame.

Instead, they went to Northwest, Ontario

  • “Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced $100 million to expand a 10-kilometre stretch of road between the Manitoba border and Kenora.”

I believe that they were coming here for a border pow-wow. Clement's porgram was merely the excuse for meeting face-to-face. They needed to get together to re-confirm their joint oppostion to the Bridge Company and to reduce the squabbling amongst themselves especially in light of the Bridge Company NEPA lawsuit.

No doubt that Eddie's demands, his share of East Europe, would have escalated dramatically. He could point to all of the abuse he has been taking because of his border stalls that have helped out the Senior Levels but have hurt him politically and career-wise. He would I am sure be upset about the Tunnel deal falling through and I suspect he would again ask for support to try and do it again.

There is no doubt that the Senior Level Leaders would try to appease him. They would use the canal funding as the perfect reason for him to trust their bona fides. No matter that it appears that the canal has no hope of falling under the program, the Feds are bending over backwards to make it fit. Moreover, the Province has to support it as well.

Of course, Eddie does not want a canal. Who does? But it sure is a good place to park $50M until Eddie decides how to squander it.

Unfortunately the sit-in interfered. They will just have to wait for another time to talk.

Unfortunately the Councillors messed things up too. Had they approved the canal project, Eddie could have demanded the money. No wonder he is trying again at the Budget meeting on Tuesday night. Now it will be tougher for him to get especially since Joe and Brian sent out that nasty letter that could give rise to an Auditor General investigation.


We know now that the Feds did not need the canal deal to give Eddie money. That approach failed with the "Your Arrogance knows no bounds" drama. They justified it under the "Gateways and Border Crossings Fund" instead. No nasty questions in Parliament either over abusing the Infrastructure Program.

I wonder what former Transport Deputy Minister Louis Ranger who resigned recently because of a supposed conflict would have thought about this. Perhaps he would not have had to resign after all.

Brain Masse has to be nervous. All this money, $34M, to make Eddie look good and to allow Eddie to run as a Conservative to beat him. A Conservative seat in Windsor too. No wonder Jeff Watson is Eddie's newest, bestest buddy too. A+ chaps!

It May Be Back To Square One

This CUPE file has so many twists and turns. I cannot make this stuff up!

And when the facts change as dramatically as this, then my conclusion about the strike being over changes too. Sorry!

Here is what Jean Fox just sent to me. According to her, the Star messed up:
  • "FYI:

    I was misquoted by the Windsor Star. Post Retirement Benefits have not been agreed to and therefore still on the table. Please correct your blog.


    Jean Fox

    President CUPE Local 543

If that is the case, I do not know what will happen next!

I know what I would suggest strategically. The steps that I outlined in my previous BLOG should be started right away by CUPE. Time to be aggressive and stand up for respect for members.

I doubt that there will be an agreement with the City now.

It does not matter. After the Caboto fiasco, Eddie has been weakened. Mr #26 is irrelevant now. The strike issue belongs to Sandra and Dwight. They need to become the focus of CUPE's attention and as hard as possible.

Right now, until there is arbitration or CUPE workers are legislated back to work.

It is not that long before the next provincial election. Our two Cabinet Ministers/MPPs need to be reminded of that.


  • Monday, July 20 - 3:45 p.m. - Update from Jean Fox, President - Many of you have been wondering about the quote in the Windsor Star where Jean Fox was quoted as saying P.R.B.'s were removed from the table. Be advised that the question that was posted to Jean was 'Were post-retirement benefits off the table in the last package' - to which Jean responded yes. This was indeed the truth for the last package. In no way was it meant to say that P.R.B.'s were permanently removed from the table - the P.R.B.'s are still an outstanding item for collective bargaining tomorrow (July 21). Be advised that both CUPE Local 82 and CUPE Local 543 will be in mediated bargaining tomorrow (Tuesday, July 21) at 9 a.m.

    85% of the 543 membership rejected the Corporation's offer on July 16. Those results were released after discussion with CUPE National at app. 7:30 p.m. on July 16 where CUPE National advised both Jean and Jim to go ahead and release the numbers.

Even More Emails

Lots more that readers are talking about:

1) I can only speak for what I witnessed the day of the vote at the Caboto Club.

At approximately 10:30 am I parked my car on Marentette beside the Caboto Club knowing that it would be easier to get out after the vote.

As I was exitting my car I noticed 4 supervisors that I recognized from Parks and Recreation. I jokingly asked them if they were coming in to vote with us and one of them told me they had just received a call telling them they had to come to the Caboto Club to hand out flyers. I asked "what kind of fliers". One of them said they did not know they were just told they had to show up. As we were walking east on Tecumseh Road I turned on the first path leading into the Caboto parking lot and asked "aren't you going this way". To which one responded "we are taking the long way around".

As I got up to the front of the Caboto Club I asked some of my fellow workers what the supervisors were handing out but at that point they were unaware of what was going on. I immediately saw another supervisor from Parks that I recognized and asked her what was going on.

She looked at the 2 different coloured flyers and gave me one. As I started to read it over I noticed Jim Wood speaking with Don Sadler and then the crowd erupted in anger. I looked over to see the 4 supervisors I had first met on Marentette entering the parking lot from Parent as they approached the crowd they immediately turned and left followed shortly by the rest of the supervisors on scene.

I have spoken to Mr. Sadler as well as all of the supervisors involved in this incident on many occasions in the past and I don't believe that any of them are harbouring any ill will toward the union; nor do I believe that any of them intended for this unfortunate situation to carry out as it did. They were all just doing what they were told they had to do. I actually feel sorry for the supervisors who were forced into this situation. They did not deserve to be treated as bait for Eddie to further antagonize our membership.

Thank you again for your ear.

2) I tend to agree with your ultimate conclusion. My expectation is that negotiations will be worked through to conclusion within a day or maybe two. And CUPE membership will be at another ratification vote by the weekend. There will likely be an acceptance. Strike over.

To get that acceptance certain things absolutely need to be in place.

The first is "Back to Work Protocol" that contains the usual clauses of protection against disciplinary action. That language needs to be in the contact itself (not a mere cover letter). I am certain that the city will include it this time. One obstacle out of the way.

Next is the money and I agree with your reference to what Eddie said in his press conference. He addressed that and a few other things, saying that the city had listened to what CUPE members were displeased about in the city's offer. He must have been listening to the many CUPE members who called the Lynn Martin show on Friday because his comments reflected things that members spoke about during that show. I know for a fact that my councillor was listening to that show on Friday. So, yes, I expect the city will sweeten the lump sum pot. The question how much and will it be enough to offset the perception created by the $1300.00 offer...namely, that the lump sum had decreased from the $1800.00 previously offered in that leaked proposal from the city. If it is sweetened enough, the money package will probably fly with the membership. But I doubt there will be any reference to OMERS as justification for that lump sum increase. I doubt that the union will even raise OMERS in the negotiations. Time will tell, I suppose.

Jean mentioned that it was not just money left to work out but also language, and there are still significant language obstacles to work out yet, such as JJE language, bumping and job security. Yes, they are obstacles but they are negotiable and I believe that the city negotiating team will be left alone to work those issues out and get the job done this time. It may take a day or two, but I believe it will get done this time.

I expect that the OLRB hearing will be used as a bargaining chip but ultimately traded off. And I don't think there will be any serious consideration of suing the city for backpay. Just my opinion.

There have been so many surprise come out of left field unexpectedly from both sides throughout this long ordeal that I have yet to predict anything with complete accuracy. One side or the other could still pull some ill-advised stunt and once again waste the opportunity to get this strike resolved. But I remain quite hopeful that it will be worked out this time.

3) Dont be so sure Ed, the members still have to vote and they are not happy with the executive.
They may reject any offer that the executive recommends acceptance.

4) The offer the union made to the city did not have PRB and asked for money.
The city turned this offer down with a counter offer we turned down.

PRB are still on the table...

We the membership did not take prb off the table. We have been
betrayed if this is the case.

5) I don't know why you think Bill Marra has a labour following I know of 1800 strikers he has not helped one bit by trying to get Eddie to bargain in good faith. Bill let that role fall on the shoulders of Caroline Postma, Ron Jones and Ken Lewenza Jr. Although I suspect the only reason Ken Jr decided to start supporting CUPE was because his father browbeated him into it.

I suspect at the next election we will see most if not all councillors and the mayor looking for new jobs. CUPE is going to be very involved in the next municipal election and it won't be to support the existing city council.

6)I gotta tell ya - this whole thing is making me sick.

Francis should be reprimanded for that stunt at Caboto. If CUPE pulled something like that, if would be all over the Windsor Star.

I find if funny and ironic how Skorobohacz hasn't been seen or heard from during this entire thing but all of a sudden - puff there he is. He is the CAO so where has he been? Why hasn't he been doing his job?

The Mayor should be dealing with the political side of things and the CAO and all of management should be dealing with the Union and it's employees, dare I say manage!! Now that the CAO made a comment, you know he's going back into hiding, I wouldn't be surprised if after all this the CAO and Helga are cut loose. Their services will no longer be needed.

When everything is said and done a "whipping boy" is going to be needed and my money is on one of them to take to fall. It should be Francis based on the pathetic way he has dealt with this strike.

Francis is using our crumbling city as a stepping stone to bigger and better things and he doesn't care who gets hurt along the way.

7) Thank your for your most invaluable viewpoints as presented in your website/blog.

8) Good blog today Ed.

I for one, emailed Jean Fox and said just go for an increase, for a three year deal. And I also mentioned to her about taking legal action re: PRB's and anything else out of line. Told her my vote is to get back to work ASAP and take care of everything through the courts. Many feel this way... We are sick of being pawns in "Eddie's Game". When each "pass" seems to take two weeks to take place, how do we know Eddie hasn't planned another "vacation"...

Maybe we as members should call [Name of US lawyer]. Or [Name of lawyer]. Or wait, maybe [Name of lawyer]. If anyone is knowledgable about City practices it is him.

Just to let you know, I've talked to plenty of other members and we are willing to put money together if necessary and hire the appropriate lawyer if CUPE does not.

Have a good night, for me, another sleepless night, as usual the last 13 weeks.

9) [3:09 AM] Hi Ed, please post another blog soon, I am still awake, I am sure you are too

10) ... If he really wanted a YES vote, he [Francis] definitely made everyone vote NO due to the Protocol itself, and not necessarily the tactics. Although they were despicable, all anyone with a brain had to do was read the Protocol and you KNEW all you could do was VOTE NO. There was no other choice. I have to think that Eddie and his legal Brain, George King, knew that would happen. We are not STUPID. They were STUPID to bring it in our faces, Jean and Jim had the document and DEFINITELY they were going to discuss it, it was SO lacking in proper language. SHAME on Mayor for this action.

And for blaming Skorbie. He will probably resign from the city soon AGAIN. Also Helga who I know is a decent person after all, she was a top administrator at WFCU named #1 employer in Canada? I think. Because of RESPECT FOR EMPLOYEES. Wow, what a change going from #1 employer to the BIGGEST LOSER in Canada. See how fast she will resign after this whole fiasco. Good for her. She's been treated like dirt same as the rest of us. Maybe I will apply for a WFCU job.

11) This is the quote from an email from [Nmae of Councillor] when I asked the question "what is the yearly cost of PRB's" while he did not clarify if this was for CUPE workers or all municpal employees which I believe it to be. but if you take 6 million, divide it by a population of 220,000 I know the signs say 218,000 but that was from 2006 so 6million divided by 220,000 is 27 dollars per person. If this does include Police and Fire and City Councillors then the amount of 27 dollars would be less for the issue at hand

"Right now, we are including a $6 million dollar amount in our operating budget to pay for post retirement benefits for those who are retired."

12) The prospect of this whole thing making a major shift on a totally new stage
is what is getting my attention.

13) As an employee of the city, I do not have an issue with the increased contribution. We're talking less than $2.00 per pay for most employees. Also, a few years back there was such a large surplus in the OMERS fund that they were required by provincial law to reduce the surplus to within mandated parameters. One of the ways they accomplished that was by granting a "contribution holiday" to both the employee and the employer. Premiums were paid out of the surplus for an extended period of time...I can't remember exactly how long the contribution holiday lasted but I think it was about 2 years before contributions were resumed.

Yes, OMERS has taken a hit but by comparison to many other plans, they have invested fairly wisely, avoiding some of the biggest sources of collapse that have plagued many public and private pensions. So I am happy to be enrolled in OMERS, Ed. And I do not expect the city to pick up the cost of my increased contribution rate. However, the city will be responsible for picking up the increase of the matched premium which they are mandated to pay.

14) Thanks for the piece on PRBs. I wonder of this is CUPEs big plan to
get all lost salary back. Imagine the Headlines on that one...assuming they have good legal advice. And word is that the inside workers would have narrowly accepted the offer had the protocol thing not happened.

15) VERY informative and thought prevoking.

As a worker on strike, here is my 2 cents.

For many years i have worked for the city and been paid a mixture of cash, benifits and the promise of future benifits. For the city to try and stop these future benifits would be an attempt to default on the payment promised. the post ret benifits are sort of a defered income. basically the city would have to give me a giant pile of cash in lue of benifits. Given how many workers are almost at retirement age this would be a massive cash outlay the city simply could not come up with. better to spread it over the next 20 or so years.

As for future employees, 30 years ago cupe 82 had over 800 members, now its less than half and falling. I don't know about 543. The mayors concern can't be about future employees of the union as there will not be enough future employees to make it an issue. everything is already getting contracted out. The real issue is, i believe, over the cops and fire. my understanding is the fire arbitrator is holding his report untill this strike is setteled to decide on their PRB's. then next year its the cops.

As for the cops, did you read the bit about the OPP rate hike in the county. the cost of county cops is less than half that of city cops. kind of a hard sell to county residents if windsor tries to push a regional, county wide police force on them. Just look at the size of the windsor police budget and you will see who the real target is.

keep up the good work

16) This is just a question, nothing more, did you know the cost of PRB's? it works out to 27 dollars a year for each windsorite, that’s 52 cents a week. The whole issue is over 52 cents a week.

17) have heard the argument many times during this strike regarding PRBs, "I don't have them why should they have them". I have not once heard someone say "Wow you get PRBs, that is worth fighting for, I deserve them too.". Do the citizens of Windsor devalue themselves so much that they feel they should bring someone down to their level, rather than fight for what they have. It is sad.

18) I just wanted to give a quick thank you. Your blog is much appreciated by CUPE. I decided to vote no, I was on the fence all the way to the ballot box. I seconded guessed myself all the way home, could my gut be wrong? Then I read your blog, my gut was right.

Thank you

19) Based on how this strike has gone, I wouldn't trust anything he [the Mayor] says unless it's in writing, wouldn't you agree?!

20) i check your blog at least 15 times a day. if i did not have your blog i
would go crazy.

21) Actually, we are 26 out of 29….two cities were not ranked

22) Yes, I just finished reading this latest BLOG online and was writing a reply....

Around 7pm I read a similar message on the main page of the CUPE543 website. My reaction was the same as yours. Disregard everything that I wrote in my previous email. I have NO IDEA where this is going to go now!

Maybe I should retire from the job of strike predictions. Hmmm...if I do retire from strike predicting, I wonder if I'll have any PRBs?