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.
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 ...is 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 ...to 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.