Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

CUPE Arbitration: More On Were We Misled

Do you really want to read what makes a complete mockery out of what Edgar (aka Eddie) and certain columnists from the "Messenger" said about the arbitration process? It comes right out of the mouth of Edgar's representative too. If so, you will have to read right to the bottom of this BLOG.

Oh I hope CUPE truly carries on aggressively in their bad faith claim against the City and tries to recover back wages. They better not sell-out their members after what they went through.

More than that, Windsorites need to know the facts since the Star won't cover a Councillor Ward meeting where a different perspective is discussed that suggested that Edgar and the hardliners did not achieve the result they wanted and in fact cost taxpayers millions of dollars for no reason whatsoever.

As I wrote in my BLOG "Mayor Francis Must Go (Part II)":

    What a crock we were fed by the Mayor. Was it deliberate or did he not know? After all, he should; he is a lawyer as he likes to remind us...

    Let's be honest. Windsorites were fooled. There was no real reason NOT to arbitrate! It was all scare tactics for public consumption in order to justify the stall and delay in not getting a speedy resolution.

    Arbitration could have worked much earlier on and ended the strike. However, some clearly did not want it ended and we were shovelled this BS."

We learned, although not told by the Mayor, that in an arbitration

  • "The parties determine the terms of reference for the arbitrator and within that process the parties can still negotiate a settlement before a decision is reached. eg the City of Toronto Labour Disputes Resolution Act 2002."

We also learned, although not told by the Mayor, that in a local arbitrated ruling that was delivered between Windsor Regional Hospital and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, local 636, the Arbitrator said taking into account our serious economic condition:

  • "Additionally, the board has considered the general economic conditions in Canada and Ontario, and the specific economic situation of Windsor. With respect to the latter point in particular we are of the view that the local economic difficulties, and the influence they will have on the funds available to the employer, aside from Provincial funding, must seriously be considered."

I raise the issue again about were we misled in order to meet some hidden political agenda or was the Mayor so uninformed about labour arbitrations that the CUPE strike lasted so long when it did not have to do so.

I do so in the context of the Firefighters Arbitration with the City because we see some fascinating comments that confirm to me that Windsorites were played not only by the Mayor but by the media as well.

Looks like there is no resolution yet with the issues between the Firefighters and the City. An interim award has been issued granting wage increases comparable to those of police calculated by the City as 12.64% non-compounded retroactive back 4 years. (From $71,447 to $78,437 for a First-Class firefighter)

Lucky for us that firefighters cannot strike. Here is what Administration wants the the City to do to try and negotiate a deal:

What this says is to try and take away again PRBs as the City has already tried to do with Firefighters. I doubt they will be too interested in that.

However, that is not interesting part of the Award and Admin Report to Council. This is:

Why is it interesting---because of the discussion about taking Windsor's economic conditions into consideration. Don't you recall. That was not going to happen we were told and that was one of the reasons why the City opposed arbitration in the CUPE strike.

Remember during the CUPE strike Edgar said this:

  • "Council has been very clear -- we're not prepared to give away the farm," he said, adding he's been telling citizens that there have been a number of arbitrated decisions in Windsor's history, and "all have resulted in increased costs to taxpayers."

  • "But at the same time, I don't want a group of irate taxpayers knocking on our door saying, 'Why'd you give away the farm?'

    We have a financial responsibility to the corporation..."

    "It is my opinion not to leave this in the hands of a third party that's 400 or 500 kilometres away… "It is the responsibility of the parties to reach an agreement. The city of Windsor is prepared to sit down and reach an agreement."

    "The history of arbitrators is one of giving away the farm -- they're known to give away the farm."

Mini-Gord jumped in telling us:

  • "True, arbitration could easily end the strike.

    But it wouldn't settle or solve the main issue facing Windsor, which is balancing the budget without raising taxes in a climate of collapsing tax revenues."

And quoting anonymous sources, he tells us:

  • "And the employer's -- or in Windsor's case, the taxpayer's -- ability to afford the outcome of a binding arbitration is never considered, although it may be referred to in passing.

    "They just give it lip service," one of the officials said of mitigating local economic circumstances. "They'll write, 'We realize the (hospital/municipality) can't afford to pay. But we're awarding X, X, and X per cent.' "

Gord said this too but the Firefighters Arbitration interim award clearly proved him wrong:

  • "The big pitch from CUPE this week is that they want the dispute sent to binding arbitration for an "impartial third-party decision." That's a laugher. In this province binding arbitration typically means some tweedy, left-leaning university prof who has never worked in the real world winds up giving the union, impartially, exactly what it wants, regardless of the municipality's financial status. No wonder firefighters have learned to love that process. If the city were to go down that road, it might as well throw in the towel now."

Edgar, mini-Gord, Gord...all wrong on whether economic conditions can be considered. I find it all very strange that none of them seemed to have done the basic research to know that was not correct.

Doesn't someone owe CUPE an apology? And Windsorites as well!

Read this please from the City's representative in the arbitration. If it was not going to be considered as claimed, why did he write it:

Gee, look at that...economic conditions are allowed to be argued.

Oh if the Star had only reported on the Lewenza Ward meeting. Perhaps Edgar would have taken the same action as Toronto's David Miller. If only.