Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, July 31, 2009

How The Eminence Greasie Earns His Keep

Some lingering thoughts from the CUPE strike. Who had the time to BLOG everything that happened. The Caboto fiasco however deserves some attention in greater depth because of what may or may not happen subsequently.

This turning of the cheek and the "let's move forward after past huge mistakes" concept, and presumably learning nothing from screwing up, is becoming a world-wide pandemic. Who came up with the idea and how is it speading like wild-fire:
  • "Mayor David Miller said any criminal charges will proceed but told reporters that on the more minor disciplinary measures "it's time to move forward" rather than dwell on past incidents."

  • "The strike has been a difficult period for our City," the Mayor added.

    "I encourage everyone to move forward and to continue to show the world that
    no matter what our difficulties or challenges may be, Toronto remains a great
    place to live, a great place to work and a great place to visit."

  • "Crowley said that he and Gates had agreed to disagree about what happened that night, but that they would meet again and "had agreed to move forward."

  • "[Re steroids in baseball] Get all the names out, pull the scab off the wound and let Major League Baseball move forward."

We in Windsor are no slouches either:

  • "Back to work

    Time to move forward

    After 101 days on the picket line, striking CUPE members are getting ready to head back to work. But with their return come the questions: Where do we go from here? Will it be business as usual after a long and protracted work stoppage that virtually polarized the city? Can it ever be the same...

    it's time for us to move on; time to embrace a spirit of goodwill and co-operation."

Has the list of clients broadened? Is business that good? The bigger the failure the greater the fees to salvage the mess? Is the Eminence Greasie now in charge of damage control for many organizations?

Our media manipulator par excellence has to be paid well for advising Eddie and the E-Machine. The Caboto Protocol fiasco was managed magnificently. We saw how well the action steps worked out for the Mayor, short-term at least. Greasie deserved a big bonus for acting above and beyond the call of duty.

Oh there was a minor tempest that almost caused a near-riot and the prolonging of the strike for another week with more lost pay for workers (for which they ought to consider suing to get back) but it was quickly forgotten, especially by the Councillors who wimped out again.

The work was cut for the master strategist this time when the Mayor messed up royally over the Back To Work Protocol. That single-handedly ensured a NO vote by CUPE and changed the dynamics of the strike to the City's detriment in the end. But not too many people will remember that a few weeks from now, hopefully. That is all that is important from Greasie's perspective.

A "NO" vote was expected but not this way. The consequences for CUPE members should have been horrific. No one would be told what was said at the Friday Council meeting that had to be held after the CUPE vote since it would have been in camera. And then Gord would put the fear of God into the workers in his Saturday column:

  • "One thing is certain. If it were up to outraged Windsorites, this thing would be resolved mighty quickly, by the posting of 1,800 openings for some of the most coveted jobs in Ontario.

    Imagine the stampede that would ensue. There isn't a building in Windsor that would be large enough to host the job fair.

    There would a torrent of applications from people desperate to find work with good pay, excellent benefits and a much-envied pension."

President Reagan here we come. An August 4 deadline to return to work or termination perhaps? I could see that threat at least happening or being talked about in the media. Maybe the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget would have raised it in a mini-Gord column and then would be attacked by Junior in an Anne Jarvis column with Marty Beneteau deciding in an Editorial. What fun it could have been but for Eddie's big boo-boo!

That would have scared many workers into complete capitualtion. They would have started to cross the picket lines as Toronto CUPE workers did. What a massive victory that would have been. That it did not happen is all due to Eddie Francis!

That fiasco resulted in more negotiations and a settlement within a week! Makes one wonder what the strike was really all about and why it lasted for so long. Councillor Postma was clearly right about the hands of the negotiating team being tied for at least seven weeks if not more. More justification suing for back pay! No wonder she is being smeared and discredited.

We need to take a look at how Greasie saved the Mayor.

As a politcal observer and a sometimes participant when I was with STOPDRTP as an example, Greasie's tactics to save the Mayor, while obvious and predictable, are a beauty to behold as they were being carried out to perfection. One has to give a standing ovation to sheer genius. I have to give credit when credit is due.

Applause, applause.

Here was the plan in a nutshell.

  • Let the apologists go out there to counter-attack.
  • Distract from what is fundamental.
  • Bury the real issues.
  • Pretend to apologize.
  • Have others take the hit by falling on the sword.
  • Let the mediator back in while still being in charge behind the scenes.
  • Make fools of the Councillors again so they stay submissive.
  • Make sure that no one BLAMES EDDIE.
  • Of course, as I said above, forgive and forget.

Yup, it is CUPE again who has to be slammed. Forget the CUPE meeting. Minimize it. Ignore it too. Put the blame on them. Heaven forbid that anyone think Eddie is at fault to be blames.

Gord did his deed on the Saturday following the Caboto fiasco as did mini-Gord. I love it when Gord acts so tough in the defence of the indefensible Mayor:

  • "Respect? How much of that has CUPE shown?

    Respect? Are you kidding me? How much respect have the citizens of Windsor received from CUPE since this strike began?

    The people of this city have been treated with contempt from day one, beginning with the harassment of Windsor Spitfire fans and moving on to vandalism and ugly confrontations with citizens who were only trying to keep their city tidy or prevent a family business from going under.

    It's been a nasty revelation for the rest of us to discover we're the designated enemy required to submit in the face of intimidation."

Now that "contempt" is truly shocking isn't it but wait until I tell you what the City did and then you can compare who acted the worst.

And then mini-Gord squeaks in with his insults:

  • Windsor's CUPE groundhogs, dictating to taxpayers, garbage collectors, because they normally work only about four hours per day, suntan on the picket lines now, and head to Mexico for a month or two this winter, Christmas toy drive for the strikers' children and so on.

Now that is building respect and trying to bridge the gap that has developed between the City and their workers.

But this part of Greasie's plan did not appear to work out too well. On its face anyway.

It is a shame that the Star writers did not include this fact in their columns as was sent to me by a CUPE member (with some editing for obvious reasons). I guess it was too hard to do a bit of digging with all of the resources of the Star:

  • "Firstly, thank you for your Blog. What I am sickened about that the City had a supervisor who has had two heart attacks to deliver that ludicrous protocol to the Caboto Club. That supervisor was in TEARS and appologized for being ordered to go there. The nerve put someone in a situation that could have been very dangerous and could have a heart attack at any moment. But thanks to one of our members..he helped her leave the parking lot immediatelly and safely... I'm ashamed. Not only does it show no respect for us workers....but what has been done to their own staff. A second supervisor also was in tears and appologized to us. SHAME SHAME SHAME ON YOU THE CITY. The Mayor should have been there himself....but he would have needed a police escort. And I say to you Eddie Francis....YOUR ARROGANCE KNOWS NO BOUNDS."

Respect for workers....what was the Star headline that Gord and mini-Gord neglected to mention:

  • "City cao feared for safety of managers"

Oh my, "safety" of people. Not just "contempt" now. Where are the bleeding hearts from the Star talking about people who might have been seriously hurt by the stupid actions of the City?

Falling on a sword for one's superior is an admirable trait. I am so glad that the CAO

  • "apologized to these loyal management employees."

Don't be too worried about the CAO though. Respect...hang out to dry an employee who was set up in a video for ripping a garbage bag but what actions are being taken against a Senior Administrator who acted in the following terms:

  • "In my 28 years of employment in the field of municipal administration, this has been the low point in my career," wrote John Skorobohacz in an e-mail addressed to Francis and council.

    "This is an action I deeply regret as these employees were placed in a difficult and potentially dangerous situation."

So the apologists were not too successful were they given John's mea culpa. Nothing compares with admitting to putting people in a potentially dangerous situation.

Ahhhh, do not underestimate Greasie's genius. Now while everyone is focused on the near-riot, we are forgetting about the real issues aren't we. Distract, distract, distract. A lot more successful here.

We have forgotten that someone tried by the insertion of that weird paragraph in the Protocol to destroy the career of Councillor Marra as the Head of New Beginnings, to jeopardize that organization's funding and to end, in passing, Bill's political opportunities. Not bad for a few lines.

And we know that it appears that NONE of the Councillors knew about it, leaving only one other member of Council who may have.

And what about no firings. Oh the Mayor is so upfront and clever about it so that employees can really rely on him. Say it in the Star, say it in the covering letter but do not say it in the Protocol itself. Wow, what a great legal approach that is.

At least I am glad that the Reporters picked up on the accurate but narrow "no firings" but nothing about "no discipline" short of termination.

I will be direct. If any lawyer when I was practising law had promised me a key provision that should have been inserted in a document and did not put it there but submitted it to me as the final document, I would no longer trust anything that person did. It is as simple as that.

I must admit I am waiting to read in the Star, as the major distributor of news, and where the Mayor should ensure that it is placed, our Mayor's apology. I did hear him take responsibility for other people's errors---his outside counsel (but did the lawyer advise that the managers be sent out) and what the CAO did but I did not hear an apology.

I really like to know what he is sorry about. Sorry that others screwed up, sorry that they were caught out, sorry that he did something wrong! What? I did read this:

  • "We apologized obviously and I will apologize. At the end of the day, the decision that was made was to try to put information into the hands of workers that were calling and saying there was concern about back-to-work protocol."

Apologized to whom--to Councillors in camera obviously about what---the limited issue of sending of managers? And not the other 2 issues. He is going to apologize to whom later and about what. Eddie admit that he is wrong.....I would like to hear that!

The situation is a mess. How does Eddie solve it. He does not. He walks away from it. He does not take responsibility for it. He washes his hands of it. He does not do take the honourable action and resign from the handling of the file because he is the source of the concerns. Nope, not Eddie:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said next steps are up to a provincial mediator.

    "Both sides now have attempted to put proposals forward to their respective members, both sides have failed in seeking support of their membership for those proposals and it is in the hands of the mediator," said Francis.

    "Right now, as it stands, we're not taking any position. We're just letting things happen as they may."

Yes, true leadership...Let the Universe unfold as it should.

Come on though, it's a perfect solution. The mediator now has to clean up Eddie's mess and deal with the Union not Eddie!

Now the problem becomes solvable. And it was solved. Eddie acted like a true middle manager in a large organization who will throw his employer's money around to make all problems disapper especially if he created them:

  • "Francis said the vote confirmed the city wasn't offering enough to take away the sting workers felt from losing the fight on post-retirement benefits. "What we heard was that members were expecting -- obviously the lump sum was not large enough as it relates to the post-retirement benefits."

There was the big hint about what was coming to buy off workers and sell-out taxpayers. However, not to be outdone, Greasie ensured the Mayor's bravado:

  • "Francis has fiercely opposed arbitration as it would take the power away from elected officials and give it to an arbitrator from a community hundreds of kilometres away. He reiterated that stance Friday.

    "It's no surprise to me that CUPE want me to step aside. In fact, I think they would be celebrating if I stepped aside. But I would be abrogating my responsibility as mayor of the city and my responsibility to the residents as well as the role that I have," said Francis."

Effectively the out-of-town Mediator did the same thing as an Arbitrator as Eddie was chased away but who will know!

As for the Councillors, what sheep. They know nothing about the Protocol terms, they are embarrassed again by the Mayor. They talk a good game but do nothing. No reprimand to the Mayor, no removal of him, no arbitration because of a poisoned atmosphere.

My favourite quote came from Councillor Valentinis, Gord's Voice of Reason:

  • "Ward 3 Coun. Valentinis conceded the move was “unorthodox,” but said he would rather focus on finding solutions than casting blame."

Yes Councillor putting people's lives at risk and causing the loss of respect and trust is unorthodox but let's forget all of this because otherwise we would have to BLAME EDDIE!

Now you have to admit that Greasie is good. Every step in the Plan was followed perfectly. Except there is one tiny, little thing--a loose end--- but you will never be told about it. The Plan is for the Mayor to bluff it out.

Why was there no attempt by the City to have the OLRB complaint withdrawn? Obviously, that never would have been allowed to happen and could have caused another "NO" vote and more embarrassment for the Mayor. It's out there and Greasie is counting on no one doing anything to the Mayor. Heck the complaint's "frivolous" anyway. As the Star reported:

  • "No hearing date has been scheduled."

It's the long term consequences that are of interest to me and why I am writing this BLOG.

Some who looked to our Mayor as the pace-setter in crushing unions must wonder now if the Windsor canary has died in this gambit as a result of our Mayor's failure and whether he is still deserving of national media attention.

I am not sure I would want to share what Eddie did now now except to learn what NOT to do:

  • "Although reluctant to preach any lessons learned, Mr. Francis said his council was willing to share its experience from the strike with any other municipalities who wanted it."

Could Eddie's fiasco explain why Miller caved so quickly after a CUPE ultimatum?

Some who thought Eddie might have a political future in a Senior Level position may have to question their assumptions about him and his electabilty in Windsor. If an event like this happened in Toronto or Ottawa and if he was in the Cabinet trying to explain it away, the Opposition and the media would have a field-day.

Luckily for him he is merely the Mayor of a small town with little Council Opposition and a weak media.

More Post-Strike Thoughts

I wondered about a few things after the strike. Perhaps you did too.


Did Helga's quick action prevent another major confrontation?

Here is the rumour I heard:
  • "People are saying Eddie is not signing the new collective agreement which will delay our payment and raise."

What if it was really like the no Back-To-Work Protocol rumour that circulated in the last minute before the Caboto meeting, and it scared City Hall into signing or face a wildcat walkout next week for bad faith.

Did the City learn its lesson this time around in communicating with employees properly?

Here is the clarifying note sent out to calm everyone down:

  • "Good afternoon everyone:

    This administration does not often try to address rumours by e-mail. However, a new rumour that has upset a number of people, seems to have been broadly circulating this afternoon. The rumour, in short, is that the Mayor has refused to sign the CUPE Collective Agreements. I would like to clarify the followiing:

    The process to get signatures on the Minutes of Settlement with CUPE Local 543 and Local 82 is proceeding positively with no disruptions. No concerns have arisen and we expect to sign the minutes of settlement later this week. The minutes are signed by the administrative bargaining team and by the union executive.

    In due course, a new collective agreement will be produced and signed by the appropriate union executive members and the CAO and City Clerk.

    I hope this clarifies any misinformation that you may have heard in this regard.


    Helga Reidel
    General Manager of Corporate Services"

Wait a minute. There is nothing in there that talks about when the signup amounts are to be paid. Wasn't that supposed to happen soon?

OMG, City Hall managers and non-union employees may have to give out flyers as CUPE employees come to work today.

Oh dear. Will there be another near-riot? Will the Police have to be called? Will someone have to apologize again? Will this further increase the rift between Junior and the Mayor?

Can you imagine the BLOGs that can be written about this!


I wonder how the first day back was for certain CUPE workers.

Were the people who picketed the Mayor's house and those of other Councillors treated properly? Of course they need not worry whatsoever after the Mayor, who after all IS a lawyer, said that what they did was perfectly legal.

How about that person who may or may not have been a City worker in that infamous and obviously altered "garbage" video and the 2 people in the background who were never mentioned at all, were they OK?

Seriously, after the near-riot episode in which people could have been seriously hurt or charged with a criminal offence, nothing the workers did could compare. I wonder what penalty those who instigated that unfortunate event suffered?

How about that lady who was charged for removing car keys, has the charge against her been dropped yet? Has she consulted a lawyer to determine what her legal rights are?


Will the Head of the Police Services Board who also happens to be a lawyer, our Mayor, send Police spokespersons on a refresher law course.

Remember the incorrect legal opinion given by the police after the Mayor's house was picketed? That could have resulted in many people being charged improperly for an offence which the Supreme Court of Canada said did not exist!

Something has to be done to correct this. Just like with the car keys removal incident, what if the charges were incorrectly laid?

It is not fair to expect Police officers to be up-to-date with the law. Their job is tough enough now. It seems to me that the Police must have access to the best legal advice possible and in a timely fashion when a unique event happens.

How that can be done efficiently and effectivley I will leave to others.

The Police ought not to be put in the situation where they act improperly on a mistaken view of the law. Nor should citizens be charged and forced to hire a lawyer at great expense to clear their name merely because the opinion of the Police is wrong.


Could someone gently, or else pound him in the ribs, tell him to be quiet. He is looking more and more foolish as time goes on about his so-called rift with Mayor. Here is what he says now:

  • "Ward 4 Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. agreed that the strike has damaged relationships on council. "To be frank with you, I've had a great relationship with the mayor over the last five years -- up until the last few weeks.

    "At the end of the day, I continue to support all the good work that he does for the city, but very much question his approach to labour relations," he said. At Monday night's council meeting, Lewenza made a statement clarifying his voting record on CUPE contract proposals. "My voting record has been misrepresented by the mayor. Comments made by the mayor are an insult to the contributions I made to the (negotiating) process."

Wow, quite a rift between them!

I sure would like to know what Junior did that would make me think that he is still a labour supporter! What positive action can he show that shortened the strike by one single minute! What "compromise" was he able to have the City agree to! When did he publicly say anything negative about the Mayor's handling of the file! When the Protocol fiasco blew up, what action did the Councillor take against the Mayor other than give a quote in the media!

Please stop talking!


A reader sent me a note to remind me of the irony of this.

Just before the Caboto vote, Councillor Marra was quoted in the press as saying:

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

Then he got completely blind-sided with that strange clause that was inserted in the Mayor's Back-To-Work Protocol without his permission and he could have lost both his job and the Orgnaization's funding.

As my reader wrote:

  • "Last paragraphs [in news articles] really are revealing just like you said Ed! What PUNCH they have! This article was published the day of the vote that was sabotaged by the mayor. Little did Marra know when he was making that comment, the snare that was placed into the back-to-work protocol by his rival the mayor and distributed an hour before vote by managers sent by the mayor. Genuine & serious consideration for sure!"


She may as well not run for Council. If she is going to do so, she will be crucified for speaking out about the lack of negotiations by the City. That 7 week period that she talked about in her BLOG could potentially be worth millions of dollars of back-pay for workers and a huge embarrassment to the Mayor.

Did you see the story: "Strike's aftershock - rifts, disillusion on council"

Nice photo of her online speaking with CUPE President Jim Wood. I wonder if this is part of Marty's healing process to link her with CUPE using a photo taken a month ago that has little to do with the "Councillors" story!

She has not Blogged very much either. Her last BLOG was June 29. A lot has gone on since then and nothing...Has she been muzzled or threatened because she said too much before?

I suspect that there is a much bigger story hiding behind her comment

  • "I have to do some soul-searching and decide with my family if I’ll run again."

$100K CLUB

How many Windsor managers and non-union employees will join the Club after the CUPE strike? Say like that fellow who supposedly made $25K for working 24/7. How many more members will come from the Police Dept for all the extra security they provided?

So far our savings have been $30M with overtime for mangers and non-union employees at $2.5M. At $50 per household tax rebate, that's another $4M. About a million for security guards. That leaves $22.5M unaccounted for so far.

I can hardly wait to see how quickly that number drops.


A reader reminds me that our Federal NDP members, Brian Masse and Joe Comartin were virtually invisible during the strike providing no help whatsoever to the striking CUPE members. Oh I forgot, it is not a federal matter. How convenient

As for the Provincial Liberals and Tories:

  • "Toronto Liberal MPP George Smitherman organized several cleanups throughout the city with volunteers.

    Smitherman started a website,, to recruit volunteers to help clean up the mess left over by the strike.

    At 7 a.m., volunteers tidied up Carlton Street between Church and Sherbourne Streets. They then headed to the Yonge and Bloor Streets intersection before heading to Queen and Sherbourne Streets.

    At 10:30 a.m., Smitherman was joined by the former head of Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party John Tory and other volunteers to help clean the area around Toronto East General Hospital.

    The area around the hospital, located near Coxwell and Danforth Avenues, is littered with overflowing trash receptacles.

    "Our hospital cares about the appearance of our neighbourhood and we are pleased to pull together to keep our community clean," said Rob Devitt, the hospital's president and CEO.

    Tory, who ran against Miller in the 2003 municipal election, told reporters at the scene he is not interested in running for the city's top job but that he is certainly listening to people who are encouraging him to do so.

    The wife of a striking worker also attended the cleanup to confront Smitherman about using the delicate situation as a "photo opportunity."

    "You're always out here sweeping the streets are you? It's funny, I've never seen any of these cameras pick you up doing this before," she said, referring to reporters crowded around the MPP.

    Smitherman, who has denied rumours that he is interested in running for mayor in the next election, defended his actions by saying he is doing one thing to help the people of Toronto.

    "I'm a local representative who has the capacity to do one thing in these circumstances," he said.

Gosh, whom can the union members in Windsor support now? All of the parties deserted them. As one of my readers wrote:

  • "You would not believe how much open discussion there is among our (admittedly small) circle about who should run for Council and how badly X would like to see Y defeated next time around........It seems to be shaping up to be a real Donnybrook."

Now about my comment the other day about NOT running for Mayor....

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Tale Of 2 CUPE Strikes

David Miller and Eddie Francis were both high-flyers when they first were elected as Mayors of their respective Cities. Young and attractive politicians, there were high expectations for both of them. Both have not lived up to their reputations as time passed. It has been interesting to me to see their careers rise and fall in almost complete tandem.

Both had CUPE strikes at the same time.

Both had a very aggressive and similar "no concessions" policy against their unions at the beginning of the strike.

Both picked on one issue as their PR excuse to justify strikes that went on forever.

Both folded at the end at almost the exact same time.

Both gave in to their unions very quickly at the end raising questions why the strike had to last so long. [BLOG: July 27, 2009 CUPE Strike: Little To Do With PRBs].

Both managements' positions fell right after Eddie's Back-To-Work Protocol fiasco.

Both were such good friends that Eddie while flipping pancakes with his family had enough time to tell the Toronto Star that he "expressed his support for Miller."

Here is something else.
  • "The tentative [Toronto] deal gives the workers wage increases totalling just under six per cent over three years and a compromise was worked out on sick days - one of the key sticking points nearing the end of negotiations."

Eddie made a big point of saying that our settlement was only 5.7% not 6.3% (over 4 years).

Another fascinating comment I saw:

  • "[Toronto] CUPE spokeswoman Ann Dembinski went further, telling reporters Monday the strike should never had happened.

    "There could have been a deal without a strike," she said. "There was a point in April when we were on the verge of having a collective agreement but the city changed course."

And when did our strike start: "April 15 -- About 400 outside workers go on strike."

Was there co-ordination between Francis and Miller in the same manner as was suggested so strongly between CUPE Windsor and Toronto through Sid Ryan as the anti-CUPE types alleged? Who knows? Only time will tell.

I found this interesting column in the Toronto Star. The press there has been very negative on the settlement asking some very tough questions. In Windsor however, the Editor can blame the strike on CUPE's jumbled messaging and ignore our Mayor's failure.

But then again, the Windsor Star, as Mr. Beneteau confirmed finally, is the messenger---"A strategy of demonizing the mayor and shooting the messenger."

Change sick day banking with PRBs, and change the Mayor's name as you read the column.

When the City claims a major victory on PRBs, and Councillor Hatfield huffs, puffs and grandstands on eliminating PRBs for newly elected Councillors, of which he is not one now so it will NOT apply to him, remember this from City Treasurer Onorio Colucci who is not going to jeopardize his reputation for political spin:

  • "Our Treasurer tells us that there is no immediate impact:

    "It's been said there is no benefit to this for 30 years," said treasurer Onorio Colucci. "That's true, but this liability was really something not sustainable for us...

    City leaders anticipate it will take between 40 and 50 years before current employees are completely grandfathered out and the $291-million price tag is eliminated."

It may well be that if one wants to have a better understanding of the Windsor strike and its ramifications, especially political, one ought to read the other Star instead---the one from Toronto!

  • Is this the beginning of the end for Miller?

    TORONTO STAR Royson James

    Mayor David Miller is a weakened politician today, vulnerable to challengers following a strike deal that suggests he caved in to the unions.

    Would-be mayors spoiling for a run at his job in November 2010 are no doubt emboldened as details of the deal emerge. They now have an issue on which to launch a run for mayor. They'll be able to spin an election message of "Throw out the sellout."

    The number one issue that sparked the longest municipal strike in Toronto's modern history was a long-held benefit that gives employees 18 sick days a year, days they can bank over time to a maximum of a year's worth. Then, on retirement, the worker is guaranteed a maximum payout, a nest egg, of six months' pay at a rate matching his pay at retirement.

    It's a sweet deal. Miller targeted it. He left the impression that a strike-ending deal hinged on ending the benefit. He went public with his demand, angering the unions. The public backed his view. They didn't get what they anticipated. Now Miller is trying to spin his way out of the political backlash.

    Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, tabbed as a potential Miller challenger, is having none of it.

    "It's a slap in the face to the residents of Toronto who held out for 36 days, who supported the mayor because they believed in what he said," Minnan-Wong said. "The mayor caved in on this. He betrayed Torontonians and he let them down. He sold out to the unions."

    Maybe he overstates, even as the mayor obfuscates. The city did improve its financial position, at least in terms of observable liability. Over time, a long time, the sick-pay benefit will end. Whether this is good – absenteeism, a problem before the sick-bank plan, may rise again and result in lost productivity – is a debatable point.

    But even with that improvement, the nagging question is: Did we go through a five-week strike for that? Could Miller not have accomplished the same without a strike? Why the bluster and chaos and disruption when meeting the unions more than halfway could have settled the dispute months ago?

    Miller yesterday tried to paint the picture of a recalcitrant union, unwilling to budge. He failed to take any responsibility for the strike. The unions wanted pay hikes matching the annual 3 per cent given to some civic workers, he says. But Miller offered them zero; then amended it to 1 per cent, 1 per cent, 2 per cent, 3 per cent over four years. The unions settled for 1.75 per cent, 2 per cent, 2.25 per cent. Clearly, salary wasn't the big sticking point.

    Miller says the unions weren't prepared to even discuss the ending of the sick benefits. But any analysis of the issue suggested that the city would be incapable of ending the benefit without a significant buyout of a benefit the workers had bargained.

    Common sense suggested an end to the benefit for new employees only. That's not what Miller pushed. Fairness suggested the city adopt a fallback position: pay out those who have the benefit because no union would tolerate a stealing of their accumulated benefits. Again, no go.

    So, who would have anticipated this: the sick-bank plan is not frozen for those who have it. And they continue to accrue sick days and payouts as before.

    So, five weeks later, and counting, Torontonians find that they endured a lost summer for a deal arguably available without a strike.

    To add insult to injury, Miller now insists on selling spoiled goods. "We've eliminated the sick bank," he said, 12 TV cameras rolling and frustrated reporters rolling their eyes yesterday. Torontonians should be "extremely pleased," he said. And no doubt, at least the 30,000 strikers are – even if they are miffed at walking the picket line for five weeks to maintain the status quo.

    But tried as he may, armed with lawyerly hairsplitting and a politician's doublespeak, he couldn't convince that Toronto's five-week municipal strike was worth the trouble.

    The sick-bank "phase-out" saves "millions and millions and tens of millions." But asked to be specific, Miller said he didn't know and refused to "speculate."

    Told that he couldn't say the sick banks are ended when workers still have the choice of sticking with the old sick-days plan, Miller persisted:

    "The provision is ended."

    "Why the doublespeak? Why do you continue to do this?" a reporter challenged.

    "With great respect," the mayor said, "I don't think this is doublespeak; this is the fact."

    Well, you judge.

    A 35-year-old civic worker, employed for 10 years, is entitled to continue banking 18 sick days a year, and do so for the next 30 years – and the mayor says the provision is ended.

    Pushed and cajoled, Miller adopted a compromise offered by Star reporter Donovan Vincent. "Phase-out."

    Maybe, Miller will find that this municipal strike unmasked much about his personality and leadership that Torontonians reject. And maybe, come November 2010, he may find that while his tenure as mayor did not end in the summer of 2009, the Miller phase-out had begun.

CUPE Strike After-Effects

If it was not so pathetic, it would be hilarious. Honestly, even on my best day trying to write BLOGs to inform and amuse you, I could not make up this stuff. I would lose my credibility if I tried to tell you these things were really happening in our City. But they are.


In the end, it is all his fault. He extended the Council term by one year so that instead of a municipal election this fall, we have to deal with these jokers for another year.

At least if he gave citizens the right of recall.

For that reason alone, no one should vote Liberal!


The grandstanding of the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget and the attacks on him by his colleagues further confirm that the members of this Council cannot tolerate each other and explain why nothing significant can ever be done.

I can hardly wait for the Councillor's retaliatory move on his Wardmate, Councillor Dilkens who had this to say about Brister's insensitive move re outsourcing:
  • “I would say there was disregard and lack of sensitivity to the timing of the discussion,” said Coun. Drew Dilkens. “To do that on the first day back, seems more grandstanding — especially since we reviewed that recently...”

    Dilkens said council voted unanimously in March during budget deliberations to retain the service after being presented with a report that showed minimal cost savings.

    “We have the number and report,” Dilkens said. “It was unanimous on council it didn’t make sense financially.”

    Oooo going after Brister where it hurts most---his supposed expertise, finances!


  • "In a closed meeting about a month before municipal workers began a 101-day strike, city council unanimously rejected outsourcing garbage collection after a report concluded it would lead to minimal savings...

    City treasurer Onorio Colucci said Tuesday that the report remains an in-camera matter and its findings, unless directed by council, will remain confidential.

    "Council looked at a number of issues related to service areas, including waste disposal," Colucci said. "But because it's in-camera I cannot say anything more."

Why was this done if we were going through a Services Delivery review? I wonder what section of the Municipal Act applied to allow it to be in camera. On a quick reading of the Act, I could not find one.


We learned this in the Star as I wrote above:

  • "In a closed meeting about a month before municipal workers began a 101-day strike, city council unanimously rejected outsourcing garbage collection after a report concluded it would lead to minimal savings."

I have a question....why didn't mini-Gord report this in his column when he allowed Councillor Brister to mouth off.

Did he know about it and not think it was important? If so , a serious error in judgment I believe.

Did he know about it and chose not to report it? If so, shocking in my opinion.

Did he not know about it because Councillor Brister did not tell him about it? I will let mini-Gord figure out what he should do if that is the case.

I do know that Marty Beneteau needs to do another Guest Column about this to explain to his remaining subscribers why this happened!


Lots of rumours about managers retiring after the strike or looking for new jobs.

One persn told me that he expected a number of supervisors to go because they do not want to face what they believe will be the ire of the workers.

Is any of it true? Only time will tell.


So much drama.

Eh-Channel claims:

  • "Ken Lewenza Jr., has come out swinging against Mayor Eddie Francis and his handling of the 15-week labour dispute.

    It's a deteriorating relationship between one-time allies at City Hall."

Oh please. Don't make me laugh. Where was Junior during the strike?

Will he now testify under oath as Councillor Postma must after her BLOG that the City negotiated in bad faith during the strike and that Eddie prevented the negotiating team for at least 7 weeks from bargaining?

  • "I strongly believe that for the past 7 weeks council has not given our negotiating team the tools to truly negotiate. We have set parameters for them but have not given them the autonomy required to get a contract. In essence they have been negotiating with themselves."

He has no choice now but to do so if he is true to himself and to tell us more including why he called a meeting with CUPE while the Mayor was away.

Some cynical people, which of course I am not one, might think that Junior wants to show that there is a rift for 2 reasons:

1) If he intends to run for the NDP federally or even to run municipally again, he needs to show he is pro-Union or he is done. His near-silence during the strike was remarkable. Accordingly, now that everything is over, when it does not matter any more, he can show how pro-Union he is.

Oh darn, he might have trouble doing so because so much was held in camera.

What gives this whole thing away to me though is the following. The reporter said:

  • "The Mayor refused to comment on the [Lewenza] accusations today other than to say that Lewenza's voting record was well-documented during the strike in a number of recorded votes"

Since when does Eddie not launch a vicious counter-attack against anyone who dares say anything negative about him, from pesky environmentalists to Councillors. This time, hardly anything. That speaks volumes in itself.

Also it was reported that Lewenza was going to hold a number of public meetings to explain his position. Should be interesting to hear what he says!

2) How can CAW invite CUPE to join their Union if everyone thinks that the Mayor and the Lewenzas are buddies? So we had the Senior "FO" and now the Junior "rift."

Who can now doubt that the CAW would stand up to the Mayor. Uh-huh.


To be blunt about it, as I have BLOGGED before, CUPE ran a poor strike. They had no strategy it seemed other than to annoy the public and failed to figure out how to get public support behind them as the strike got underway. It was not that Eddie was so smart--he had 4 years to plan this--but that CUPE was that dumb.

Whether this was the fault of local leadership or the fault or lack of support of CUPE Ontario/Canada I do not know.

But Union members must! They need to demand answers about how this debacle happened and to find out from their Union what active steps are being taken now.

Depending on how the OLRB claim is being handled and how quickly and aggressively it is being dealt with could help workers in any number of ways.

CUPE leadership had plenty of opportunities to turn the strike around but failed to capitalize on them until it was too late. CUPE members must make sure their tactics now have been thought through and that their advantageous position is not being blown again.


So much for the Star Editorial

  • "Back to work

    Time to move forward

    After 101 days on the picket line, striking CUPE members are getting ready to head back to work. But with their return come the questions: Where do we go from here? Will it be business as usual after a long and protracted work stoppage that virtually polarized the city? Can it ever be the same...

    But it's important that both sides concentrate on the bottom line right now: Making sure that the City of Windsor runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible, and restoring municipal services in a timely and cost-effective manner...

    it's time for us to move on; time to embrace a spirit of goodwill and co-operation."

Well Marty did a real number on moving forward. I would fisk his column but frankly, between him and mini-Gord, I have no intention of wasting my time.

My oh my...the Star must have lost more subscribers than I thought. Or is Marty worried that angry readers will do the same to his advertisers that some CUPE members are threatening to do with CFIB members---stop buying from them!

That there was a need for the column was interesting in the first place. Mind you, one of his reporters hammered the Star Editorialists and Columnists so something had to be done. It had to be written for the simple reason that:

  • "The union response was to slam The Star, which Ryan in a speech to union members called "that rag of a newspaper." His assertion that "there's absolutely no impartiality whatsoever" failed to make the distinction between opinion writers and news reporters, people paid to check their points of view at the door. And in doing so he paddled his 1,800 members out on to an island."

Beneteau's job was to try and demonstrate that the Star acted properly!

I wish that a Journalism Prof at the U of W could help resolve this issue objectively. He/she would have his/her class do an analysis of how the Star covered the story including the number of negative news stories, anti-CUPE photos, unsubstantiated allegations of CUPE wrong-doing and so on. The results would be interesting. Oh and the positive stories right near the end that finally explained what CUPE was fighting for, when it was too late, don't count.

You see, the strike was the failure since it was all because of CUPE's jumbled message according to Marty. I agree that CUPE screwed up as I wrote above. But to pretend that the Star had little to do with it is mind-boggling!

Here are a few remarks from Marty that the union supporters who float conspiracy theories might be interested in. The use of language is fascinating too:

  • "public backlash, which found voice not only in the traditional opinion-shapers like our columnists and cartoonist" At least he admitted that his columnists "shape" opinions but failed to acknowledge that new stories and photos do the same.

  • "failed to make the distinction between opinion writers and news reporters, people paid to check their points of view at the door." That is playing the game that reporters just report facts (see above re the Journalist Prof) and fails to acknowledge the role of editing, positioning, selection of photographs, headlines and reporters knowing what must be written.

  • "A strategy of demonizing the mayor and shooting the messenger ." Nice to know that Marty affirms finally the Star's role of being the messenger for City Hall. Who from City Hall talked to whom at the Star about what message was to be delivered would be interesting to know.

  • "One held that on Francis's order, we were banning pro-CUPE posts." Nice straw-man. How about you yourself making that decision on your own (see below)

  • "The reality is that any poster capable of keeping their thoughts marginally civil -- and keeping us from getting sued -- stands a good chance of getting published." Oh, now there were undisclosed criteria for being published online. Were some of the anti-CUPE diatribes civil, whether marginally or not? Even if a pro-CUPE comment was civil, that did not mean it would be published; it only had a "good chance" of being posted online.

  • "One online commentator accused The Star of polarizing the community." Marty did not deny it but suggested that we look to the Toronto media where posters were nasty too.

  • "Opinion makers who took a hard line against the city strike paid a price" Smearing again by suggesting by innuendo that CUPE members did it

  • "I recall jogging with White and Buzz Hargrove on the Toronto waterfront" Jean and Jim's big mistake was not exercising with Marty

  • "Next time, try learning the difference between news and opinion." People who publish in glass houses.

I heard about this but Marty made no mention of it in his column. He must have forgotten:

  • June 29, 2009

    2 Carlton Street, Suite 1706,
    Toronto, Ontario
    M5B 1J3

    Dear Sirs/Mesdames

    We are legal counsel to the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Ontario Division (“CUPE Ontario”). The following is without prejudice to the rights and positions of our client (including the officers, employees, agents and members of CUPE Ontario).

    The Windsor Star Misquotes Sid Ryan

    In an article titled [name of article], appearing in The Windsor Star, on [date], the words spoken by Patrick (Sid) Ryan, Ontario President, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in a speech delivered in Windsor, Ontario on June 12, 2009 were materially misrepresented so as to change their meaning. The misrepresentation has the potential to adversely affect the current collective agreement negotiations between the City of Windsor and CUPE Locals 82 and 543 and to besmirch the reputation of Mr. Ryan and the Canadian Union of Public Employees and its officers, members, employees and local unions."

I have deliberately chosen NOT to give details or to BLOG the rest of the complaint since that is a matter between the Star, CUPE and the Press Council. Moreover, the Star may have a pefectly proper answer. I think the easy way out is for the Star to publish both the complaint and its answer now as well as the Press Council decision when it is made.

Hmmm, Marty thought Sid may not know the Star's phone number but it seems his lawyers knew the Press Council's address.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Emails

Just a few more that came in. Note the issue that CUPE will have to deal with regarding Temps and Seasonals.

1) I work for parks and the day was largely without note save for the announcement in the morning that contractors were cutting sports fields at Ford Test Track (an announcement that wasn't made in every division). After a few calls to the union the contractors were dismissed and the work will be finished by city workers. No ill feelings towards our supervisor who is liked by pretty much the entire department.

After two days, my impression is that it is going to take a long time to clean up the parks to the standard that we like.

2) Hi Ed,

Isn't it sad to see what the Windsor Star has become? The CUPE strike just reinforces what the newspaper has been about for years. The opinion pieces going back to R.M. Harrison in the 1950s, John Lindblad and later so-called scribes are as predictable now as they were then. The message is simple: support the establishment, hammer the unions and until now, actually criticize the mayor.

But at least the paper had stuff other than half baked opinion pieces for people to read. Until about ten years ago the Star actually had investigative reporters who tracked feature stories and presented them in highly readable form. Many of these pieces were outstanding in content and writing skill. Also employed was a full time labour reporter who reported labour news as objectively as his editors would let him.

But even as print media gradually fades into oblivion and as papers trim writing, editorial and production staff, the bleeding still doesn't stop. Despite the right wing anti-union stance the paper took during the CUPE strike, the Star's popularity is unlikely to go up. In fact, readership may drop even more as people disgusted with the paper's position on the CUPE strike and other editorial policies cancel their subscriptions. Despite the fact that some staff writers are conscientious and talented, they are part of a dying breed.

There is with no such thing as a newspaper "fairness doctrine" whereby a a paper must print views opposite to its right wing stance. Yet, hope is here. Via the internet, bloggers are able to counteract the nonsense put forth by publications like the Star. And as many CUPE members learned since April, alternatives to the conglomerate owned media actually exist. The new messages are available to anyone with a home computer or at any public library.

Take a bow, Ed.

3) [Copy of an email to Councillor Brister sent to me] It behoves me that you actually spoke up and asked about contracting out on the first day the union staff went back to work.

What kind of man are you? This was totally unacceptable behavior. Did you honestly give this any thought before you opened your mouth.

Many many disgruntled people said contract out /fire them all during this prolonged EDDIE strike. Most were from laid off jealous people, people that owned a truck like yippee, taxpayers that thought they taxes were too high (of course they are and will be no matter what the union does) people on fixed incomes. You sit and listen to their nonsense but don't take other issues as serious.

Anyway I am so glad Ron Jones fired back at you, you deserved it and more. Shame on you. I hope your kids are proud of you because there are a lot of sons and daughters of the union members that are not proud of you.

Look in the mirror Mr. Brister, HOW DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED like this???
Ideas like this put the city back 50 years, with people like you at the helm Windsor will never be a prosperous vital border town.

4) Hey Ed, can you believe how wonderful the counsellors are at welcoming us back and helping out with the healing process.

One wants to know how much it would cost to outsource garbage collection, first day back, he couldn’t have waited a few weeks.

Now thats respect for your employees.

5) [RE meeting with the Mayor and the Parks Dept managers re the Caboto fiasco] Not much to say, Eddie came in and stared at his Blackberry (as usual). He did not look at or speak to the staff. He and Michael Duben met with Don Sadler and most of the managers that were involved. From where I was, it appeared that Duben did most of the talking. I spoke to one of the managers and he said that the mayor did apologize to them and “he seemed to mean it”. (Too bad its two weeks later.)

6) I am shocked at the one e-mail you received from a CUPE member who thought seasonal rec people should be in their own union. What that person doesn't realize is that all seasonal rec staff are not all teenagers. Seasonal recs are in their 30's 40's 50's and 60's. Some will never see full time and received a $500. lump sum payment. The other group members are screaming about are the essential service personal. Hundreds feel they should also be in their own union.

Think about that for a minute will you. Take all the seasonal rec staff and the essential service staff away from your local and guess what, you cut your membership in half and greatly reduce your bargaining power. If you then take that 700 out of the equation, good luck on your next strike folks, that would leave you with a hand full of people willing to picket and the city hall bull dozer would run you over in a minute.

So instead of shuddering at the re-action of the season rec staffs reaction to the contract, thank God that they were there to fatten up your picket lines when others wouldn't

7) [Re mini-Gord column: CUPE faces backlash] I'm sure you have already seen this. But how can this guy promote such hate??????

8) Work was good today the management is just fine with us in fact acting overly nice to us. I even got visited from the head of our department to see how we were feeling.

I am feeling on edge with going in public because I think we are on the close watch of the public eye because of all the bad publicity the media has given us. I dont trust Eddie francis and never will and want that man removed from his office because we went threw the strike and know the truth of this man. I dont beleive there was any good that came of that strike for the tax payers or the employees of the city. I think Eddie Francis used this strike for a political gain for himself and infact it cost everyone in the city in the end.

The mentality of everyone I have talked to is they dont care about putting the extra effort at work anymore becasue the city has shown us how much little respect they have for us as workers. Good luck in the future efforts of getting the good quality work out of us like we used to try and make our mayor look good. I have no repect for him and never will.

9) Were you watching council tonight? Brister and Eddie mentioned that the $ from the sale of Brighton Beach lands to the feds had already been "spoken for" in the 2009 budget. Just when did everyone know how much the feds were going to pay for the lands and what is it going toward in the budget? It seemed to me that when the announcement was made everyone was surprised and ecstatic about the size of the windfall. It was sold to the citizens that way.

10) you know, of course, that it was i who threw that video up

figured for all your hard work, that tiny endorsement at the very
least was well deserved.

11) See Ed - how can so many of us be wrong? I specifically remember asking you to run for mayor over a year ago when I first started reading your border file blog. You must be beaming with flattery and you should. Your writings are an eye opener and an inspiration to us all. Thanks once again.

12) Aha - we finally agree on something (at least I think we do)!! - drop CUPE and get a different union and leadership. You have to admit they led them like sheep during this dispute.

I don't understand what is wrong with Eddie being involved in negotiations. I work for a privately-owned company, and there is a team that negotiates, but they obviously receive their directive from the owner, and they wouldn't agree to anything without his approval. Isn't Eddie in that same position? I know three councillors I wouldn't hesitate to not vote for in any upcoming election - they were obviously playing both sides and were trying to keep everybody happy, which didn't work. My husband works in London, and apparently the voters there love Eddie Francis for what he has done here in Windsor. So I guess even out-of-town papers don't reflect the views of all their readers!!

At least now I can go back to complaining about how the mayor and council seem to want to keep work (and, thereby jobs) out of Windsor.

And now I have a confession to make to you - I'm not even a resident of Windsor! I live in the county, so it's probably none of my business what goes on in Windsor or with their strike!! Sorry - but it just made me so mad sometimes I had to say something!!

But I will say this - Windsor garbagemen are the absolute worst!! My daughter lives in the city, and I can't believe the stuff they leave on the sidewalk and won't pick up - sometimes just bags that are a little heaver, and I have heard many other people complain also. It makes it very difficult for people who have no vehicle, and no access to a pick-up truck. County garbagemen are the BEST - they'll take anything - couches, old carpets, old drywall - doesn't matter how heavy it is. I am so glad they are taking care of my trash for me. Maybe you could blog about that next - not too soon, though - let them get back to work for a bit first!!

So I'll probably agree with everything you write from now on, at long as it doesn't have anything to do with CUPE or the CAW leaders who stuck their noses in (which brings up a thought - if Eddie shouldn't have been involved, why should they have been?).

13) So it's over - thank goodness. And, believe me, I'm not a fan of Eddie Francis, although I supported him completely in this, and I am NOT anti-union, although I think CUPE gives them all a bad name, even though, obviously, there was mistakes made on both sides.

I don't know if I can continue reading your blog. I'm amazed that you think you have presented a balanced view of these events. In every one that I have read you are writing anti-Eddie comments. I believe you when you say that you have written things critizing the union too, but they must have been few and far between, because I somehow missed them. I can only assume that most of your responses come from CUPE members and their families.

I have never been in a union, but I have worked at two companies where unionized workers have been on strike, and at the end of it there was never any negative talk by the members - just things like "we're glad it's over and that we will be getting back to work", etc., etc. If I were a CUPE member I would be voting Jean and Jimmy out asap.

14) just read your blog this morning and I feel compelled to reply to commenter number five. The person was referring to Seasonal Recreational workers as being young and making most of our money in the summer. That might be true for some but certainly not all.

A vast number of Seasonal Recreational workers ...and there are over 400 of throughout the year at various recreational centers. Many people work behind the desk or work at the centers in various capacities. We are not summer students!!!!! Many of us are well out of school having achieved various educations at college or university. When a program is booked at a community center who do you think books and runs it?

Classifying us as Seasonal Recreational or now as Recreational is a means for the city to get away with paying us less and ensuring that they do not need to grant us the same benefits as other union members who work the same number of hours! For example regular part time or temporary. Even if we work the same number of hours as a regular part time employee we are not allowed to buy into benefits etc. Plus we are paid considerably less money than other union members for doing a hard days, skill filled work! Some Seasonal employees have been working for the city for over ten years without the benefit of the benefits that regular full timers take for granted!

On the picket line many Seasonal Recreation workers lost a considerable part of their pay starting on April 17! Regular full time employees were not the only ones in danger of not paying bills or not making a mortgage payment! We were out there on the picket line fighting shoulder to shoulder with our part time and full time brothers and sisters! I do not think it unreasonable that we should be treated fairly in a contract or also receive improvements considering that union dues are taken off our paycheque as well!

Most people I met did not know we existed! I think ignorance of our situation is our main enemy!

Having $650 for us turn into $500 and see permanent employee amounts go up was a slap in the face! Again! Of course they improved the language so we can enter the pecking order. What if we like our jobs? What if we just want things fixed where we are? Like a fair pay considering what we do and benefits and the ability to pay into OMERS sooner etc.

Thank You for your ear,

15) The city said no overtime.
Overtime for garbage collectors is paid out by the weight picked up, not by time.
They work 4-10hour shifts a week.
If they pickup more than their quota then OT kicks in.
Judging by your daughters picture, there will be alot of overtime for them.

16) Does Eddie ever listen to ANY of his high-level, highly-paid
staff? BOTH percentages are correct, as Onorio has explained. Even
if Eddie didn't pass Grade 4 mathematics, he pays Onorio enough as a
Treasurer to be able to trust that HE did, you'd think. Will Onorio
be frustrated enough to join Scorbie on vacation too? Will Eddie end
up driving ALL of his staff to the "low points" in their careers
before his public relations war with CUPE is over? This has now gone
beyond the point of ridiculousness

17) Wow! Are these CUPE members adults or children? They are paid to do a job and go home. I guess when certain unions don't get what they always demand then they MUST have respect given to them. They should grow up and realize that respect is earned and NEVER given.

Getting back to my number one point. They perform a task and are paid for doing that. If they get respect for doing it then kudos to them. but this typical entitlement of being hand held to do what they were hired to do is just plain nonsense. Why cater to it?

18) Sorry I didn't get back to you earlier about the meeting. I just want to say thanks for providing some good public discourse over the course of the strike. The lack of journalistic rigour from the Windsor Star bordered on appalling (not to mention the lax spelling and grammar standards). I wonder if their idea of "positive change" is to slowly eradicate the use of the comma, (see Gordo's column from a week ago).

I look forward to following your thoughts on the next issues that come up.

19) Deputy premier George Smitherman helps clean up garbage on July 14 as part of a new volunteer effort during the Toronto strike.

Windsor still gets the shaft.
The Liberals sent out scabs to pick up Torontos garbage. Very big ones.

Where were Sandra and Dwight during the Windsor strike?
I mean fair is fair right?

20) Ed: You were the one ray of sunshine through this whole strike. I would read the Windsor Star and all the hate mail and get very discouraged. You were always fair in what you wrote about us and the City and Mr. Francis.

The most frustrating thing I found throughout this was the biased reporting from the Star, AM 800 and the TV news reporting. I'm also surpised that citizens are still writing angry hate mail. They need to find some other way to vent their frustrations regarding their own lives. They forget we're the ones who serve them on a daily basis when we get back. The Mayor has turned this city into a dirty garbage filled dump and turned citizen and family against each other, but in a couple of years he'll be gone and we're left with the carnage that will take years to fix. I hope he's proud of himself!

I also have to mention all the acts of kindness I received including some of the Managers and citizens and fellow strikers. From grocery store gift cards, to food and money to help us out in this really long ordeal. I've learned that there are a lot of big hearted people out there.

Thank you again!

21) Have received the call to welcome us back, but now we wait to see when we will actually work again.

Keep giving us the straight talk and the side of the coin that the Windsor Star refuses to give us. Thanks again and I'm sorry it took a strike for me to get to read your blog.

22) I know it's late and it's perfectly alright if this wasn't included in your BLOG. I thought I'd tell you about my first day back, which was today.

I admit, I expected a positive welcome back and for the most part, it was. I did not expect major fanfare or anything like that, there were no gifts or banners or even hugs. I did receive a few sincere smiles and "welcome backs" and those were unexpectedly from management/non-union people who normally are quiet and abrupt.

However, the others, the ones I expected to say "HI! Welcome back" hardly said a word to me today, one didn't even say hi, just gave me some documents to fax and that was all I saw of them the whole day.

It was absolutely awful; as I sit here now, I'm trying very hard not to cry all over again. The afternoon passed quickly, thank the Lord. The atmosphere in our work area isn't tense per se but it's not like it was 16 weeks ago.

I was apprehensive but glad to get back to work, but now.....who knows what the second day back will bring.

On a much brighter note, thank you for your words and views expressed these last 15 weeks. It was a relief to read something neutral, positive and truthful. I'd subscribe to your BLOG over a free lifetime subscription to that used toilet paper the Windsor Star prints out any day.

23) Ed I just have to reply to one of your letters that you posted regarding "seasonal employees."

Yes there are over 400 so called "Seasonal Employees" in 543.1 and I am disheartened at the suggestion that we should belong to a different Union. I'm a "Seasonal Employee" have been for 13 years. I have worked 7 days per week however my hours are capped at 24. I work 52 weeks a year but still classified as "Seasonal?" The picket line I was assigned to had 28 people, only 3 on the line were full time employees. The other 29 were seasonal like me older and students who walked the line in support. Students also work year round, teaching sports, the office in Community Centres, cleaning ice in arenas, lifeguards etc. and not just July and August as the writer suggests.

I take offense that all seasonal should belong to a different union. This is my career and I love my job.

Thank you for letting me vent.

24) another great blog Ed. It is more entertaining than tv. I will continue
reading and contributing to you whenever I get some good info. Time to
elect a new City Council and Mayor. The broom has to sweep this bad
group out the door.

Is The Detroit/Windsor Tunnel Deal Back

I will let you think about this: is the obscene amount of money being paid by the Feds to Windsor for Brighton Beach the way that Eddie can "buy" control over the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel finally. He can take advantage of Detroit's financial woes. And buy it for the Canadian Federal Government so that the Americans will not get upset!

Buying that land for $34M when comparable land was going for around $5-10M according to the Star made little sense to me. Until this speculation.

Remember that Eddie tried to get Infrastructure Ontario money to do the deal but the amount offered was probably too low. I have a Freedom of Information application out to get that amount. That is being opposed.

Remember also I speculated that the Feds needed control over the Tunnel, which is competition to any bridge, in order to get a P3 investor interested. P3 operators like monopolies to guarantee a nice rate of return.

I raise this now because of a story I read in the Detroit media:
  • "The time frame is pressing -- Bing said the city could run out of money by the start of the second quarter, Oct. 1 -- if a $20-million to $25-million hole is not plugged...

    "There's a reality that we all have to live with, and the reality of the City of Detroit is that we are broke and we are in a financial crisis," Bing told the Free Press on Thursday...

    The mayor said this year's budget is padded with soft or unrealistic revenue, including money from plans to sell the rights to the profit generated by the city's parking system, lighting system and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. He said the short-term goal is to manage through the current deficit, while planning for the three to five years it will take to eliminate the city's debt."

My goodness, Eddie could offer $25M or a bit more for the Tunnel which is losing money and market like crazy to help eliminate that deficit. It would be City money used too so he does not have to justify the deal to a lender from a business perspective. He can argue as he did before that he is merely protecting 5,000 commuters and our tourist trade. Councillors would quickly fall in line.

What a nice neighbour. Why Eddie can justify the lower amount too as he did when ex-Mayor Cockrel was talking about it being worth $100M.

Of course, dear reader, you and I know that this has nothing to do with the Tunnel. It has all to do with Canada controlling how goods go into and out of the United States. Canada has to contol that for our economy.

Nothing wrong with that except when the President Obama and/or Homeland Security figure it out, then we are in deep doo-doo.

What do I mean by that: our Corridors and Gateways Policy.

We have a Minister involved in each of the Atlantic and Pacific gateways and, I just realized it in a flash of inspiration, it is the PM himself in charge of the vitally important Central Canada bridges and tunnel gateways. No wonder he raised the Ambassador Bridge/DRIC file 3 times at least with US Presidents Bush and Obama.

Still do not get it.

Our coastal gateways will be closer to Europe and Asia than most American ports so products will be off and on-loaded there.

There is a need to control the centre of the Continent where trade goes by truck so take over the Tunnel, crush the Ambassador Bridge Company, P3 the Blue Water Bridge with a Canadian P3 Company and have shared border management in Fort Erie/Buffalo on the CANADIAN side of the river.

Ergo, we control the US import/export market. The Americans will never figure it out since they are fixated now on Government Motors and Cries-ler while taking over banks and introducing a CANADIAN-style health care system.

Heck makes NAFTA-gate look like small potatoes. And President Obama and Homeland Security will be in the dark. Why do you think all those stories and Reports are coming out about the "thickening" of the border. The Americans are being deceived into think they are winning. NOT!

We Canadians are so clever!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

First Day Back

What it was like returning to work on the first day after a 15 week strike in which you and your colleagues were painted as Public Enemy Number 1. Just read along.

1) As you may have guessed, I have not even GONE to bed after last night !! Anyways, I know there is ALOT of garbage out there. I've been monitoring my neighbourhood. It's a well manicured, mostly senior citizen, block. And I've had scabs come to my door a couple of times offering to take the garbage. But I haven't really seen my neighbours giving their garbage to scabs. We all have garages. It will be VERY interesting to see just how much garbage is out there. My poor husband, just bought a brand new vehicle last summer, he said to me "please open the garage door everyday when you are home, I don't want it to smell like trash". Poor guy! He's been very supportive. And BTW, he has worked ALL his life in MANAGEMENT at various plants in the area. He said himself, it was DISPICABLE what the managers did, flaunting O/T cheques in workers faces. He deals alot with grievances and arbitration hearings. He said in all his career, he has NEVER seen anything like what happened the last 15 weeks.

2) Just an FYI a call from my supervisor yesterday as did many and surprisingly I had nothing to say. I was overwhelmed with bitterness to hear her voice welcoming me back. Usually when it comes to work I would hide any distain to my employer but today I just couldn't. All I could manage was O.K ? followed by a long pause, a very uncomfortable conversation to say the least. First off we did not expect a call, only the temp workers were expecting them to confirm returning. Second what response do I give "Thanks for doing my job for 15 weeks?" I'm sure they were told to call but really they should have left sleeping dogs lye the pain is still fresh and and the financial sting if far from over. Monday is going to be a odd day to say the least seeing the s**t we have to clean up. This is not going to be pretty, I for one will not work a minute extra. I was never a very union girl but after all we have lost or given up I will never look at my job the same way again.

3) tomorrow marks a big day for my coworkers returning to work... This strike gave my husband a little more leverage in his continual efforts to get me to leave this city... regardless, just wanted to say I WILL continue to read your blogs and your link will remain a permanent fixture in my 'favorites'

4) Back to work tomorrow. I think that the wounds will heal sooner that later. The one thing that I will carry with me is Ms. Swift's comments against the strike. I will carry on with my boycott of businesses that support CFIB. I have, until now, made it a point to support the independent businesses. It saddens me that I have to turn my back on the places that have been so good to me, but until they recind their memberships, or CFIB appologizes, I will spend my fair wage elsewhere.

Thank you again for your blog.

5) Anxious to get back to work tomorrow. I heard that the Executive Directors of the departments were told not to hold any sort of celebrations for the returning workers. I also heard that in one Department, there will be breakfast provided (probably bagels, pastry, etc) however, it will simply be left in the common area of the department for employees to help themselves, no announcements or welcoming words to go along with it. Hummmm we'll just have to wait and see.

In any event...I will continue to follow your blog. The perspectives that you provide certainly are thought provoking.

Keep the faith!!

6) More B.S. (the Star is really laying it on thick tonight on the eve of our return for some reason):

"Mayor Eddie Francis was optimistic on the eve of the workers’ return, saying the feedback he’s gotten from some employees over the weekend has been very positive.

“They are really excited to be back to work,” he said. “Although there will be some who will continue to try to pick away at the past 15 weeks, that’s not going to heal the wounds of the past 15 weeks. You can’t look back and you can’t pick away. From our perspective, we’re moving forward. This is a new day for the employees and the community.”

WHO's picking away? Thank goodness I work with, and for, amazing people who are professional enough that they'll continue to do their jobs in the best interests of the taxpayers.

OK, I've got to get to bed. You've got enough material to keep you busy for another couple of months! LOL.

7) Ed, I wanted to personally thank you too, for being the voice of reason and helping me mentally digest why things are happening on a level that cannot be found out there. I know it must take an enormous amount of your time and jugding from the other letters you've posted, I see, I'm not the only one. So, WE thank YOU!!

I'm very excited and happy to return to work today. The department I work in is like family. I am positive our Managers will also be very happy to see us and will welcome us with open arms. I personally don't hold any grudges against them. I also know a good portion of my job was completed while I was away and I'm relieved I don't have a huge pile to deal with. I know they had to do what they had to do and I had to do what I had to do. What most of us are upset about is the Mayor and Council and how they could have let it go on the long. Considering the deal we got, which we really couldn't have asked for more, it's a awesome deal, why did it seem to all come together within the last week?!! Couldn't they have been with forthcoming about 14 weeks ago or even not let this happen?! How many of us nearly lost our minds, let alone our financial stability?! That's were the animosity is.

Anyways, I'm so glad to have run into your blog and I will be a follower for years to come, as long as you're still there writing it, Ed.

8) your almost as good as having a husband to talk to, maybe better. Yes, I will take particular note of how we are treated. I can tell you right now I am not anxious to go back. There are a lot of bad feelings.

9) Our managers were very polite to us when we came back including ones that
were not very nice wich I felt very questionable about that. The fear of
going into the public and scares alot of guys working the road today
because of the way the media and The so called paper of windsor expressed
their opinions of the workers. We feel we are under the watchful eye of
the public wich makes the process of us working slow down in turn costing
tax payer more money. Eddi Franciss has caused alot of damage that will
take a long time to heal but we all know that it wont heal until he is
removed from office and put ina normal job wear he is accountable for his

10) It's weird!..but everyone is genuinely happy we're back. Lots of hugs between supervisors and workers. My supervisor said they all found out just how difficult and complex our job is, and are much more appreciative of us workers. No animosity at all, even though there is a scab here, right from the beginning of the strike.

I must say, when I took a break outside, I hid from everyone's view in case there was a CUPE hater filming me!!..kind of paranoid now.

11) my immediate superior told me she was proud of me on saturday -- proud of all the strikers -- and was happy (and relieved?) to tell me to report to work on monday.

i've never had a problem with my manager where i work -- so that has never been nor is likely to ever be an issue for me. i suspect things might be different elsewhere in the city?

the strike may be over but there are still plenty of unresolved issues in this city... i was pretty politicized to begin with, but i think in general locally those numbers have swelled in recent months by these events. a more engaged citizenry now? we shall see.

12) My first day was ok. Boss was happy to see is. Noticed many errors in their work though.

13) there was only one emplyee from their staff [Nane of company] that made a rude comment and additude this morning when they came into work , I greeted then with a HAPPY we're back!!! she mumble YA I SEE THAT with an additude.... what a B____ I knew she if any body would be rude to us.. it up set me at first but then the rest of the staff made up for it as they came into work soooooooo there is one in every work place..... tommorrow is another day.... and pay back are a B____ too. have a good one ED see ya on the puter

14) Nothing has changed with management. 5 minutes in and the same BS starts.
Positive responce from public,not one negative comment today.

Its gunna be a tough Lonnnnnnnng road ahead.

I am actively seeking other employment. I am prepared to give up my good job and PBRs so i dont have to put up with the city/managements BS.

If the Mayor is reading this and would like to save some more taxpayer money, buy my PBRs for 75 grand and im outta here

15) You could cut the tension with a knife. Management acted as though nothing was going on and it was business as usual.

we are expected to get 15 weeks worth of work done in 2 days. ZERO over time. We
are also expected to 'offer input' into being more effecient now that the strike is over. BS.

Some things remain the same. A clear consorted effort to degrade us and the work we do. We are told this is the way its going to be and to like.

No more 'free' work from me and I will no longer do managements job. In
fact, let the brain drain begin. Myself with a number other professionals are looking for work elsewhere.

The city's whole IRIDE PROGRAM is a load of crappola!

16) I just arrived home from my first day back and it was AWESOME! I am so elated to be back at work. It was busy busy busy. Phones were ringing off the hook, lots of clients came in to register for programming, many of whom were very appreciative. I cannot tell you how many folk took the time to tell me and my co-workers that they were happy to see us back or just a simple 'welcome back'. I feel so great today. It is a great day in the City of Windsor!!!

17) work today was okay, i was very apprehensive going in. more so because i voted No on friday and was disappointed with the end results of my fellow union members.

my supervisor approached me with a great big hug and a sigh of relief. at 9:00am was a scheduled meeting... it did appear when the supervisor was addressing the last 15 weeks and her experiences she was teary eyed. other than my supervisor, no higher ups showed their face.

tons of uncompleted work were left ....many requests and forms were dated back to april to current....not too sure how some co-workers approached the work left, but most i spoke with, decided work to rule. took 1 1/4 hours for lunch which is deducted from our pay and two breaks....

18) Hi Ed, back to work, except for the shoulder-high weeds, like we never left.

I hear ["X"] positions are being eliminated, and that at least ["Y"] positions are going to be cut.

oh, and they're not going to pay us for the Civic Holiday

beatings will continue until morale improves... guess they better drop another big wad of money on a full colour IRIDE mailing, featuring smiling people who DON'T WORK HERE..

19) As relayed from my wife...

She was feeling anxious about returning to work. It wasn't because of returning to work with her manager, but rather with what type of reaction she would receive from the general public; being on the "front line". There were no issues whatsoever. She did feel lethargic at the four hour mark, however. :)

The managers were all very nice to the workers as far as my wife was involved. There was more tension between members in specific cases than between workers/management.

20) Work was great! My manager welcomed everyone with open arms, even bought us lunch. It was quite busy with phone calls. We were also calling clients to inform them of [deleted] due to "the work stoppage" Most clients reregistered into upcoming programs and were friendly. There were a lot of "Welcome backs," I for one didn't have an opportunity to communicate with any one that seemed disgruntled or rude. It was a busy but wonderful day.

21) I was greeted by a 10:00 appt in the office.

Then I was advised I would be completing 3 applications a day until the backlog of appts is cleared up.

Just to clarify we normally complete 4 appts a week- but due to this backlog we have been assigned 15 appts this week and next week.

When we asked Supervisors how we could manage such a task - they were NOT sympathetic and responded- "what do you think we have been doing for the past 14 weeks". It is not like we were on this extravagant vacation and left them to do our work.

Clearly they did not miss us as "people"- Just us doing the work...What a welcome slap in the face.

22) Seeing that I attempted to treat people with as much respect and dignity as possible during an intollerable situation, I believe that most recipricated in kind. My day started with several welcomong and positive greetings from supervisors and managers who genuinely sounded as if they were glad that it's over. Later when I was working around members of the public, with the Creator above as my witness, I was met with a litany of good will, honks for support, thumbs up by passers by, several handshakes and even a pat on the shoulder. One gentleman going into city hall to pay his taxes even said that he didn't mind the increase, having seen me busy at my job. Despite the Star's somewhat effective campaign to make us appear to be parriahs over the past three months, I simply didn't get that vibe from the majority of citizens that I encountered. Perhaps a growing number of people were able to see the other side of the dispute via your site. A very well deserved cheers and thank you.

23) I felt a lot of tension where I work. Kind of just a nod and no discussion. Very unusual environment.

24) Hi Ed, well here's my story:

My first day went pretty well, after getting there about 8:20 and seeing that my scan card worked on the parking underground again, that was a relief!! Then I got upstairs, got a nice hug and welcome from the Executive Director of my department, as well as from the Manager I work for. The Manager had called me at home on Saturday to welcome me back to work also. I had heard that some other managers had done similar things.

The coffe kiosk on the 1st floor was offering free small coffees to all returning workers, so that was really nice of them as well.

All in all, I am glad to be back and was made to feel very welcomed and no hard feelings on anyone's part. Of course, not all departments are the same. I was quite satisfied and don't feel at all out of place there now.

Anyways, when I put out my Mount Francis this Wednesday, I will try and remember to take a pic and send it to you. There is alot !! Have a nice evening!!

25) He was home by 4:45 he was a bit tired. I said on a scale from 1 to 10 how was it and he said good about 8.

The supervisor was very glad to see his guys and said this strike was too long and should not have happened. He said to my husband I am glad everyone is back especially you that made my husband day.

He called me twice at noon (I think he missed me LOL) I did not want to call him I figured if he had a problem he would call me. He said everyone was pleasant and glad to be back. He laughed and said so and so is back smoking though after all these years !!! He got stressed on the picket line so someone gave him a cigarette.

I tried to take a break from ALL of it for the last few days it's funny how some things can consume you. I am thankful for routine back in my life.

26) my hubby said it was "pretty good", he had about 6 people come out and
tell him "welcome back" and someone came and brought him out a bottle
of water. Nobody was really pissy or mouthy with him, overall just a
good day.

27) The return was a great one. We were greeted with lots of hugs, and a welcome back reception in the boardroom. On each of our desks was a “welcome back” [gift]. The atmosphere was very upbeat and managers and employees shared a few strike stories from both sides.

Across the street, I heard that things were quite tense. I didn’t experience anything personally, but have been advised that it may be better to work [name of place] this week until things settle down.

A bit of a slap in the face to be told by City Council that full-time permanent staff can’t work overtime but the managers can call in all kinds of temps to work full-time to help us catch up on our work.

28) I was never so excited to go to work on a Monday morning, ever! Until today! I had a great first day! It was like going back to high school after being off for a very long summer. Actually, greeting everyone with open arms, except for the Mayor, as he isn't a part of my department, and even if he was, I'm sure he would have been by-passed by each and every one of us. (If I were him, I would have made sure to have some out-of-office appointments, to avoid any possible confrontations.) Management was very happy to see us back; it was very genuine, too. Our desks were cleaned, snacks for us, and a lovely welcome-back gift for each of us from supervisors!

Although, when we talked only amongst ourselves, it was about the strike and how ridiculous it was to have taken so long, how depressed we were while we were off, how much weight we’ve gained and how we didn't get a thing done around the house, mostly due to lack of ambition, but it didn't matter anyways since there was no money anyways. Expressions were made, of hope, to never have to endure such degraded humiliation nor experience such overwhelming frustrations of helplessness. Disappointment in the public, we served relentlessly, who didn't get it and felt we were insignificant and worthy of no more than a pittance. Or worse, when it’s your our own family members or neighbours! But still, all the staff were beamingly happy; big smiles; obvious relief to be back, to resume our normal lives.

Management also expressed how delighted they were to hear our voices again, after the welcoming and greetings, as it was way too quiet while we were away. They pretty much left us alone for the remainder of the day, to get re-familiar with our desks. Some of us couldn't remember our passwords to log-on, to wade our way through our quite enormous backlog of messages, that gathered in our inboxes, from when we were so abruptly cut off from accessing, the very hour the strike was announced, 14 weeks ago; can you imagine?!

Only a couple of annoying individuals asked for things that I had totally no idea about; I've been gone for 3 months!! Oh, and the best part was a young guy telephoning to see if we were hiring! LOL! “Ah, it's our first day back after being on strike for 3 months, we might need a day or two to get our bearings...”

It was a fast day, to say the least but I’m sure by Friday, everything will feel like normal again and we’ll be thrilled for the weekend! But it sure does feel good to finally be back!!

29) Well i have some info. There were contractors cutting today and local 82 was pissed. The new agreement has not been signed and they called their legal eagles to see how a wildcat strike would fly. Imagine that!!

The city sent the contractors on their way. Now brister asks administration tonight to find out the cost of contracting out services.

Seems like its not ending eh?

30) At the Parks Dept greenhouse workers were treated to a large "WELCOME BACK ' banner , coffee, pastries. Hopefully things will turn around in time.

31) I really, really, really, really, really hated picketing, very, very, very, very, very badly...

32) it was great to be back to work today. It was like the first day of school. My boss shared stories about what he went through during the we did with him. But what still bothers me is I saw a lot of those SCABS whi tried to run us over many times at the drop-off sites. Also...the strike ended Friday and I was informed that management worked a ton of over-time on Saturday and Sunday cleaning up Mic Mac when the Special Olympics had over 1000 volunteers .I'd sure like the taxpayers to know exactly how much it cost them in unnecessary overtime. Some management made more money than our 400 part-time workers make in a year. AND TO BOOT...Bristor brought up contracting out jobs at tonite's council meeting...nothing like sticking a knife in our backs AGAIN. I'm still very bitter with Eddie Faucet and his six drips...or is it seven. It will take me a long time to get over this one.