Strike!

A few links for you:

• The City of Toronto’s contingency plans for the strike
Talks collapse, City workers on strike [ Toronto Star ]
Toronto city workers on strike [ Globe and Mail ]
It’s official: the strike is on [ Toronto Community News ]

UPDATE: A few pics from today by Sean Marshall:

Downtown garbage bins were wrapped with sticky plastic wrap, with signs (interestingly, in FWHA font usually used for highway signage) urging residents not to litter, though some were ripped open already. In the suburbs, wraps have yet to be applied.

That is one way to stop people from using a recycling bin.

Many copies of the Star must have been printed before midnight, meanwhile, the Sun’s reputation for colourful headlines remains untarnished.

Though the Matty Eckler Recreation Centre had later editions of the Star  sent to them…

… though not everybody got the message.

50 comments

  1. Statement by Mayor David Miller – disappointed that no agreement reached

    I am very disappointed that we have been unable to reach an agreement with the Toronto Civic Employees’ Union Local 416 (CUPE) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79.

    City negotiators worked very hard to put the kind of proposals forward that would have resulted in a fair agreement. It is regrettable that those were not accepted by locals 416 and 79.

    As things stand, members of locals 416 and 79 will not be on the job today. I know that this will inconvenience Torontonians in many different ways.

    I am asking residents and businesses to be as patient as possible while a resolution to the strike is pursued.

    The cooperation of everyone will be needed.

    The City has committed to maintaining those services that ensure the health and safety of Torontonians and protect our most vulnerable.

    Police, fire and TTC services remain unaffected by this disruption. And although impacted by the work stoppage, emergency medical services will continue to operate and clients who currently receive Ontario Works benefits will continue to do so without interruption.

    Most other regular services will be either reduced or cancelled during this time and I regret the hardship this will place on our residents.

    For a complete list of our contingency plans, please visit http://www.toronto.ca

    While we will continue to negotiate with the union locals during a strike I want residents and businesses to know that we are working in their interests to protect the future of services in our City.

    From the very start of bargaining the City has stated clearly that new collective agreements need to be negotiated based on three important principles:

    1. agreements must be fair to the City’s employees;
    2. agreements must be affordable to Torontonians; and
    3. agreements must contain the changes necessary to permit the Toronto Public Service to deliver the best possible services to our City

    Given the City’s financial circumstances, the recession, the increasing demand for City services and the limited revenues of the City, these principles of bargaining made sense and still do.

    The City is facing enormous budget challenges in 2009, 2010 and beyond. The cost of providing services must be in balance with the revenues the City has available to pay the bills.

    I again want to thank our negotiating teams and I know they share my disappointment at not reaching an agreement.

    The negotiating teams are committed to continuing to work hard until an agreement is reached.

    While reaching a negotiated settlement was the objective of our bargaining we must ensure that any settlement is truly fair and affordable – and we will continue to work with the unions on achieving that goal.

    City workers provide incredibly valuable services – many of them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Everyone recognizes the value of City services and the contribution they make to our quality of life.

    We look forward to resolving the matter as quickly as possible.

  2. Don’t post the contingency plan – post the offer.

    Also: the war on cars continues (Strike Edition) – City Hall Green P is picketed (obvious when you think about it since it is an entrance to City Hall itself)

  3. If you want to see where this might be heading, look at Windsor. Their city strike, again involving both inside and outside workers, is into its tenth week, where the city is also demanding a major concession from the unions (in Windsor’s case, the end of lifetime benefits for retirees). There’s been nothing but acrimony between the two sides, and no settlement in sight.

    And if you just want to while away the strike in a drunken haze, you had better go stock up today or tomorrow — the LCBO will be in a legal strike position on Wednesday.

  4. This is a joke.

    First of all I would like to point out that I saw 3 city workers last week ‘weed whacking’ under the Dufferin Bridge on the King St side. Since when does it take 3 grown men to do this chore? I can see possiblly having 2, 1 to drive the truck and the other to actually do the job…better yet, give this job to students – so they can pay next year’s tutuition!!! There is no need for 3 men @ at least $25/hr each to do this kind of work.

    Secondly, I’d like to say that this morning – upon crossing under the bridge, once again I saw city workers. This time they were saran wrapping the garabage bins with plastic signs that said “temporairly out of service, please do not litter”. Give me a break, now we are also paying them to waste more money in printing these plastic signs that are possibly non-recyclable and which will end up inside those garbage bins bu the end of day?!?!?!?! I was walking my dog, you expect me to pick up after my pet but not dispose of the waste in the garbage bins? Unlikely, I must say the first thing I did was de-saran wrap that bin so I could properly dispose of my dog’s deed.

    I also have to say that there is no need in this economic time to be striking, there are people who rely on the city run daycares to provide a service. Often these daycares are there for those who cannot afford to pay for daycare and receieve subsidy so that their child can attend. Now those people are stuck between a rock and a hard place…stay home and either use vacation pay in order to look after your child, or use up your sick days – find another reliable babysitter who may end up costing even more than before…or leave your child with a teenage sitter with little experience.

    I am disgusted by the way our tax dollars are being wasted and by the fact that this union has no sympathy for the under-employed or those in a lower tax bracket.

  5. Wrapping the bins sounds like a management decision to me.

    As for the argument that it’s no time to strike in a recession, the workers are being confronted with a major concession. Recessions may not be times for large wage gains, but they’re certainly not also excuses to gut collective agreements. The sick day package is in lieu of a short-term disability program.

    Finally, the “union has no sympathy for the under-employed or those in a lower tax bracket”? It’s always painful when public sector unions go on strike, but this sort of argument is a race to the bottom. Should all workers be poorly paid?

  6. Sorry tinap, this is not a joke but the inevitable outcome of the culture of entitlement fostered by the Miller clan. When our leaders constantly blame others for our financial problems they only serve to encourage the attitude among City workers that they are entitled to more because it is not their fault.

    I agree with Matt that Toronto should post the offer so the public can see what, in the words of the union, is so ‘vicious’ about the proposals that appear to be the same as recommendations in both an Auditor General’s report and the Blue Ribbon Panel.

  7. A pile of trash has already started at Christie Pits.

  8. Dave> So somehow a strike against the Miller clan is the Miller clan’s fault because the Miller clan is too friendly with unions? That is Fox News-able!

  9. I recall Miller pushing for tax revenues that grow with the economy because Toronto’s revenue do not. Conversely the do not shrink either. Playing the recession card when the city’s revenue is stable is laughable.

  10. “better yet, give this job to students – so they can pay next year’s tutuition!!!” – I think this was suggested before and the answer was that they must be paid union rates

    As for the garbage dropoffs, apparently they are picketed and this is causing substantial delays.

  11. As a memeber of a union, i can understand the trails of negotiating, but why not understand that in this rough economic time we can maybe agree on a yearly contract and perhaps but into it a clause that as soon as the economic upturn commences we can reopen the contract and renegoiate the sick pay and senority issues. this whole strike seems to come at a poor time when we are trying to showcase our city to tourists to make more money for the city and its merchants. lets also work perameters in the contract that would not allow for frivilous claims and time lost for self inflicted issues.

    all these ideas would help us as a collective in the long run!

  12. “Wrapping the bins sounds like a management decision to me.”

    Indeed I think so too – I’ve seen city workers using city trucks doing this work.

    So if you’ve got garbage, just pop into the Eaton Centre or another mall.

  13. Why should the union take it on the chin for everyone else? I don’t understand these arguments about “fairness” and call for magnanimity on the part of “organized labour”. In 2009 the great unwashed see the unionized worker as an overpaid burden while at the same time bemoaning the death of manufacturing and by extension, the middle class. As if a regular Joe/Jane can be blamed for getting a good job and wanting to make it better. When all unionized workers get today is scorn, what’s their motivation to sacrifice for the rest of us?

    Look at auto sector for a moment…

    Who used to top off the United Way every year? Auto sector unions. Who ran toy drives at Christmas? Auto sector unions. Who were the major proponents for boycotts against the social crimes of South Africa in the 1980’s? Auto sector unions. Decades of good works and our reward to them is to put the burden of solving the auto crisis on their wallets. If the unions didn’t eventually concede, we would have pinned the failure of industry on the working man/woman.

    The guys in Local 416 have seen the writing on the wall. If they don’t fight for themselves, no one is going to fight for them. What incentive do they have to compromise? The example of self-sacrifice the rest of us are making?? Anyone think we’re going to throw the union a thank you parade if they cave? No, we’ll rub it in their f’n face.

    In tough times people have to hold on to their jobs with both hands. If you’re a small businessperson fighting through the recession you’re a hero, if you’re a union man/woman trying to do a little better than just “food on the table” you’re a villain. It’s sad and wrong.

    One more thing…

    Can it with the “they’re so lazy” shit, which is always followed with “in the private sector, those guys wouldn’t last a week”. Open your eyes and look around your workplace, how many morons can you count on one hand that have been there for 20 years and don’t do a goddamn thing? There are always people that fly under the radar…at least 1 day a week, it’s probably you.

  14. This strike is much larger than garbage collection, but I would like to raise a point that has only to do with this aspect.

    Unlike many in Toronto, I quite like those big new bins that rolled out as part of the new ‘street furniture’ program. I like that they are large, intrusive, often ‘in the way’ of people’s everyday lives so that many, quite literally ‘trip over’ them. It wasn’t on purpose, but it did raise the issue of disposing things from the unconscious of people – suddenly garbage is in the way, it doesn’t just disappear. I think the lack of regular garbage collection will function in much the same way.

    I’m not an eco, organic, locally grown, etc. advocate in any way. What I find interesting is that it makes problematic our lifestyle; it highlights the consequences of how so many of us live. (For any Lacanians out there, the Real returns!) I know many will feel this isn’t a place to raise a more abstract or ‘academic’ argument, but I do hope that some will re-consider the underlying issue, which, I think, is that most of us feel that ‘garbage’ is something we’re entitled to produce and that we shouldn’t have to think about it. Again, I’m not presenting this as some moral finger-wagging in the name of sustainability, saving the earth, etc. – rather, I hope that it shakes up our own consciousness.

  15. I am most concerned with the fact that the union workers are organized and can take actions collectively to force their agenda, while the people affected, all Torontonians, while many many times more than the workers, have little or no option to show their take on this collectively. How about a referendum on how city services should be delivered? We pay for it so we should have a say on it, right?

  16. Yu: While I sympathize with you, we do have a referendum every 4 years by electing politicians who set the policies and budgets. We’d end up with a California situation where propositions are put forward demanding services only to be voted down.

    Toronto once did this when it came to large expenses like the subway. In 1949, the Yonge subway was voted on (received a yes) and the Queen Street subway was voted down. While democracy won out, most would argue from a long-term POV that was a big mistake. Populous decisions are not always the best ones for the population. I can only imagine a referendum on the Land transfer tax being voted down and then witnessing the outcry when residents’ property taxes go up.

  17. Here here, Matt.

    All one needs do is look at California to see democracy inaction. They are required to vote on most government initiatives and most requiring tax changes fail. As a result, California is near bankrupt and has one of the worst economic records in the union.

    The union elects it’s leaders just as we do. If you think they’re getting better representation, then get a little more active in the next election.

  18. Hi, Matthew,

    I understand election is a kind of referendum, but I still think a few very important issues deserve separated treatment. On this specific issue, it is politically difficult for any mayor to take any major action to cut city’s labour cost. If there is a referendum, it would give the mayor the legitimacy to make decisive moves.

    I agree that populous decisions are not always the best ones. But I wonder your examples actually prove that point. Should Toronto decided to go with Queen subway instead of Yonge, would it be better off today? I doubt it is agreed upon by “most” (unless you meant most people living along Queen St.) As for land-transfer tax, besides the fact it is not big enough to warranty a referendum, I’d suggest that if the decision was to vote down LTT and go with higher property tax increase, it would have been a better and more fair solution.

  19. Matthew,

    We don’t have a referendum every 4 years. We have an election. The distinction is notable. At least referendum’s ask clear questions, like the examples you gave re. subways. It could also be argued that elections also carry the same burden of participants making decisions that are contrary to their long term interests. Like (drum roll please)…………..

    Toronto high non-residential taxes. The non residential base has been shrinking relative to the residential base. This alone cause a tax shift between classes. Any second rate economist could have seen this coming. Yet the city persisted for more than a decade, with political promises of tax freezes or low average increases. Now that the consequences are being felt ( job market stagnation), higher residential taxes are coming by force without the benefit of having local jobs.

  20. We have an election. The distinction is notable.

    Sorry to say this, but duh. I know the distinction. I was suggesting they are one in the same in reference to what commenter Yu was proposing.

  21. Shawn,

    If my comment was Fox News then your’s must surely be ‘Bush’ league. My comment was civil and to the point and made no mention of Miller being too friendly with the unions. My point was that when any leader constantly blames others for problems, he/she creates inflated expectation to entitlements not just with the unions but with every organization and citizen who reserves services or money from the City. And Miller is quilty of that; a lack of leadership and fiscal accountability.

  22. Matthew, then why only an example of the pitfalls of one and not the other?

    It is too convenient to say, “why have ‘this’ when we already have ‘that’ and with ‘this’ there is a possibility of long term mistakes”. To omit that the consequence is not dependant on whether a decision is made in person or by proxy is obfuscating. Adding clarity and responsibility itself is a benefit ‘this’ over ‘that’.

  23. Glen: probably because this a comment section not a thesis defense.

    I like the irony of you recent comment in which you stated a need for “clarity” to the discussion yet your comment is anything but clear.

  24. @Dave…I don’t know about Fox News, but your logic is as bad as your puns.

    How do the excuses of the Miller administration foster a culture of entitlement among unionized workers? Is your contention that when Miller points a finger at Ottawa, everyone else expects a handout?

    If you were to argue that when Miller cries poor, the unions see it as the city making excuses for not coughing up the dough that would be a logical line. Or conversely, if you were to suggest that because unions have a culture of entitlement and as a result calls for fiscal responsibility fall on deaf ears, I could get behind that too.

    But you’re suggesting that because Miller blames our problems on the province and the feds that it causes anyone to feel entitled to a handout is so backwards and strange that it’s hard to refute. Of course, if someone suggested that a turtle was really a baseball bat, you wouldn’t spend much time refuting that either.

  25. Josh,

    As long as the city insist that it does not have a spending problem but a revenue problem, the union can justify that it is not part of the problem. As it falls on the spending side of the ledger.

  26. Josh,
    I thought the pun was not great but to the point and a little bit of humour is always better than none.
    I’m sorry but logic is not my weakness.
    Both of the lines of logic you mention you ‘could get behind’ are implicit in my comments but I did not think I needed to write a thesis to make that clear. Sorry I didn’t expand more.
    Your last comment completely misses the central issue of the lack of a leadership that is the logical precondition to the other lines of logic. The point is that Miller cries poor long after the horse has left the barn and failed to address the culture of entitlement when fiscal disaster was on the horizon 2 years ago.
    By the way the only American media I listen to regularly is PBS.

  27. Mark’
    Re students.
    As I recall the student controversy was not that they get full union rates but that the City must pay full union hourly benefit and pension costs that the students never receive. I wonder if that irrational perk is on the bargaining table?
    I again support your request to ‘post the offer’
    so the citizens get to see what they are paying for.

  28. @McD…ok, so I make a couple good points and you say they were your points and then I say that you stole my points…whatever…for a point to be implicitly made it must be made. Otherwise at best it’s suggested.

    OK…let’s get to the part where I agree with you and then we can fight again.

    I agree that there’s a lack of leadership in this city. I’ve never thought David Miller was particularly savvy, neither politically nor fiscally. I think he’s grasped at straws his entire time in office, playing “Woo, shiny thing!” with a wide range of issues.

    OK, Miller is a crappy wimp of a Mayor. So why should a city worker pay it? It’s not like 416 pulled a fast one and deserve to be punished. The City made a bad deal and now they have to pay for it. That seems pretty fair, doesn’t it?

  29. @McD, @Glen

    I agree that there’s a leadership void at the city. Anyone that would sign a contract containing the time bank in the first place could and should have their managerial acumen called into question.

    OK…so city management signed a bad deal. Why should unionized workers pay the price? Because we’re in tough economic times? Because they’re paid with taxpayer money? Well, let me blow the lid off that myth. Taxes aren’t the public’s money, they’re city’s money. It’s the fee you pay to live in the city. Do you consider the airplane to be yours just because you bought a ticket? Of course not. And cities are an even better deal because you don’t get to pick who runs the airline.

    If the city managers wants to show some leadership, they should be adults and honour their contracts. If the deals were bad, then the Mayor and his gang shouldn’t pout when we throw them out of office. But this trend of asking the working person to “do what’s right” so the managers can keep on mismanaging is disgusting. The worker has done nothing wrong and should neither be vilefied, nor punished. In fact, we might praise them for being willing to stick up for themselves when they know that no one has their back.

  30. Josh,

    let us say my boss made a bad call and signed a 3-year contract with me for $100K per year. At the end of the 3 years, he found that I am not up to the task, or his business is in bad shape and he need to cut cost, he come down to ask me to work for $60K for the next 3 years, or he would let me go. Isn’t that just fair? I’d say that is just fair. If I think I am good enough, I can say what the heck, I’d find another job at 100K; if I have doubt in myself, I’d stay for less; but in any case, I would not say my boss has done anything wrong. So why the same logic does not apply to unionized workers? Even unionized workers at private sector are now facing the reality, look at what happened at GM/Chrysler. So why is public sector union so untouchable that their deal can only get better, never facing any cut back?

    Let us see, if a company is providing city services, for workers that does not require special skills, I’d say an hourly rate at 15-20$/h, 3 weeks vacation (may increase the maximum 4 with several years of service), 5-7 sick days (no rollover nonsense), an reasonable extended health care insurance. Is that really blood-thirsty capitalism? Or is that fair-compensation? I am pretty sure what is on the table for city workers are way better than this, so why do they deserver even more than what is offered? Just because they have a union that can make 2.5m people’s life stink?

  31. yu, your example above is a bit laughable. I think you are making an anti-union case with a proposed scenario from the private sector, but this isn’t exactly what I see happening in the private sector these days. What I see happening is more like: people make enormous sums of money on non-productive employment, their company’s stock falls by half or more, the company is forced to shed tens of thousands of jobs, receives millions of dollars from taxpayers, while those who made the huge mistakes obtain hundreds of millions so that they can retire.

    Quite apart from the issue of the bankable sick days, you’ll excuse me if I find comparisons with a supposed rational private sector quite galling in 2009.

  32. That’s the point, Yu. You are making a judgement on what you think is a fair wage for a city worker based on what? Years of research? I doubt it. Rather I’d guess you’re making a judgement based on a comparison with your own work and the work of those around you. And the wage you’ve set is pretty low. On the low end, in your pay scheme, a city worker can expect to make $29,400 before tax. On the high end it’s $39,200, also before tax. I’ll take the average and say that perhaps you’re gettin’ by on $35,000/year and I commend you for that, but it ain’t exactly a wonderful wage. Add a family on top of it and you haven’t got much at all.

    My point in all of this (and I will expand upon it later today on my own blog) is not that I support the union or the city. There are enough people arguing about that. In this strike I’m far more interested in people’s attitude towards the worker. The manner in which we project our own feelings of self-worth onto others. It’s fascinating and sad. They can pick up our garbage, watch our children and clean our pools…but only if they make less than us. It’s classism at its worst. And it marks a disturbing new trend.

  33. Bob,

    those are the ones which made headline. The ones you don’t hear about, they are doing just fine.

  34. Yu: I’m not sure if that huge a drop in pay isn’t some kind of violation of employment standards law…

  35. Andrew,

    we are talking about renegotiating contract after the previous one expires. I don’t believe any law mandate that the new contract has to be as good as the previous one. Of course, it must be more complicated with union’s collective agreement, but on the other hand, I don’t believe the city is asking to lower anybody’s wage either.

  36. Josh,

    how much I make is beside the point. I am not saying at that wage you are going to make a very comfortable life. On the other hand, with 2 income like that, you are looking at 60k-80k per year, which is about average Canadian household income, so how unfair is that?

    I appreciate the city workers’ work, as much as I appreciate the cleaners’ work at my office, who probably make minimal wage or slightly above. Now why is that city worker should make 2 times more with all sorts of perks, for doing the same kind of job? Did not the city union create a kind of segregation so that you end up with upper class workers vs. underclass workers? If the city instead contract out the work to companies with the condition that the workers are fairly compensated (say a wage guideline above minimal wage), is not it possible that it will create an environment that the entire industry raises their standard, so not just the ones work for the city, but all those minimal wage earners can actually see their lives improve?

    BTW, you did not answer my point that if the management made a mistake before, why they should not try to correct it when the previous contract ends.

  37. Alright, Yu…who’s going to get the standard that determines what a “worker” should make? Or rather, what’s going to set the standard?

    Is it the government? Is it angry citizens who are pissed ’cause their garbage is piling up? And if we decide what’s a fair wage for a “workers” job, why wouldn’t we do it with everyone. Doctors make so much, lawyers make so much, toilet cleaners make less, etc.

    Structuring a pay scale for the entire citizenry is communism. And I’m not being all Fox News about using that term…it really is communism. People should be able to make whatever they can, as long as the play within the rules. Local 416 played within the rules and got a great deal for their members. Who are you to suggest it should be taken away?

  38. Josh,

    Good, as we get into details, this may become more constructive.

    the guideline I was talking about is set the the city, and only affects companies that gets the contract to do the city’s work. Companies working on other private job is free to set their own labour price. But with a large source of contracts setting a guideline price, companies without city’s contract may decide to upper their labour price so that they too can compete for the contract. That is how I see this might cause the whole industry to move towards a more reasonable labour compensation, instead of the two-tier system we have right now, with the public sector workers getting a fat meal, and private sector workers getting dog food.

    I am not saying that local 416 did not get their deal legally. I am just suggesting that if the city found it unaffordable, it is the city’s duty to seek more affordable options. Renegotiating a new cheaper contract is one, stop working with local 416 and find others to provide the same services should be another option.

  39. Yu,

    Why would we want to encourage a race to the bottom? Only the most delusional optimist would think that if public sector work was made private that the “fat meal” people wouldn’t rapidly become “dog food”.

    We should encourage a race in the other direction. Instead of looking at the minimum wage as a noble and responsible fiscal choice, we ought to see it as a last resort.

    My core problem with your entire argument is your use of the word “reasonable”. How do we determine what is reasonable? I think a city worker that makes $60,000 haulin’ garbage and can put his kid through college is perfectly reasonable…I bet he does to. If I take his version of reasonable and yours…who wins?

  40. Josh,

    clearly I am not proposing racing to the bottom. I am proposing taking the two ends, $10 vs. $25, and trying to level the field at at around $15-20. And I am not looking at minimum wage as noble and responsible. If anything, I am suggesting ways to make minimum wage earners to be better compensated, which I believe our working poor deserve. Unionized city workers do not belong to that group and I don’t see much need to advocate for their welfare.

    60K would be perfectly reasonable if private sector cleaners can normally expect compensation within the same range. But if you either somehow gets a city job, or you get 20K, then I’d say 60K is a bit out of touch.

  41. Josh,

    on another note, let us say it is reasonable for city workers hauling garbage to make 60K, it must be reasonable for every worker, no matter what he/she does (bank executives excluded), make 60K as well? Following that line of logic, things now seem easy, why don’t we just legislate $25 minimal wage, and poverty disappears over night?

  42. No…it’s reasonable for every worker to get paid whatever they can legally negotiate. That’s is ALL that’s reasonable. If a garbage worker has negotiated a better deal that you, or a lawyer or even the Prime Minister, good for them. That’s a free society and that just happens to be our society.

  43. Josh,

    you are falling back on to this free market preposition. Be careful with it, because this is exactly the kind of argument that justifies the race to bottom situation. When you use it to justify the deal that city workers are getting, you are justifying the plight of our working poors at the same time, after all, $10 is the best deal they can legally negotiate, so it must be reasonable, right? It seems that in defending the benefit that city workers have, you are perfectly happy to defend the status-quo, where a larger group of private sector workers are relegated to surviving on minimum wage with little to no access to the gated paradise enjoyed by the unionized public sector workers. Josh, frankly I was expecting better than this.

    On other note, while I don’t dispute union’s right to fight for the best deal they can get, it is not really a fair process if the employer’s (city) arsenal does not include a large batch of pink slips.

  44. Wow, Yu. I’m sorry to disappoint you…I didn’t know you were my Dad. Oh wait, you aren’t so I don’t really care if my argument isn’t meeting your expectations. Save the reproach for someone who’s not just doing this for a laugh.

  45. Oh…and again, Yu…

    I encourage all workers who feel their voice isn’t being heard or desire more control over their future to organize. I think I’ve said before that I wish the minimum wage were a wage of last resort, but the private sector sees it as a standard.

    I want a race to the top. I want us to have an argument about how well paid everyone is…and if unions are the way to get there, as history suggest, then I’m all for the unions.

    Finally… You, like so many, like to perpetuate the myth that a unionized worker can’t be fired. The same process that exists to fire a non-unionized worker can be used to relieve a unionized worker. But if you’re suggesting the city should be able to fire a striking worker, I’d suggest you’re living in the wrong place. That’s not how our democracy works…or maybe you were happier in the Harris years.

  46. Josh,

    of course unionized worker can still be fired, at least theoritically. But devil is in the detail. Not every union has the same capacity to protect the workers, public sector union are probably among the most powerful ones. I have seen one grossly incompetent and unmotivated unionized worker who the management wanted to let go, but was protected by union for 6 years. She only got fired after she poured a full cup of coffee on her manager. Yes, that did prove your point that they can get fired. But think about all the nastiness during that 6 years, it was really a waste for everybody, the worker herself included. I bet she’d be much better off if she moved on earlier.

  47. Someone trying to improve their living wage is not the same thing as striking for extra weeks of bankable paid holidays in the middle of a major recession, denying important if not essential services to the country’s largest city.

    Labour unions served an important historical purpose and have contributed to most if not all of the standards we now enjoy, like workplace safety, 5-day weeks, minimum wage, etc. but when I see folks striking like this over issues like the ones before us, I don’t see how a labour union is any better than the corporations. Labour unions don’t fight for the working class any more, they negotiate on behalf of their union members, corporate entity to corporate entity. Most of those union members have little in common with the actual working class, they’re more like the blue collar bourgeoisie that think that working class neighbourhoods are “bad” parts of town.

    I find it difficult to sympathize with unionized city workers striking for bankable extra holidays when it means they are doing things like shutting down subsidized city-run daycares, effectively preventing other people who rely on this service from going to work themselves – and I am willing to bet the majority of those people with kids in those daycares aren’t in unions themselves. Way to show working class solidarity, “brothers”.

    I don’t think unionized city workers are lazy, but they sure do look greedy right about now.

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