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."
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!!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKobc4R-gPw - 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!