Category Archives: Justice

The NPA Union-Busters: an Open Letter to Vancouver City Council

If you agree with this posting, I strongly encourage you to email the Vancouver Mayor and City Council with a letter explaining just what you expect of them. Feel free to even copy this letter, sign it and send it to them at mayorandcouncil@city.vancouver.bc.ca which will forward to each of them.

Dear Mayor and Council,

For those of you who have no interest in vindictively punishing your highly valued staff in your 3 unions, I commend you. I encourage you to continue to lobby the others of you, the NPA I assume (correct me if I’m wrong), to bargain fairly.

I don’t know if you NPA union-busters are trying to save enough money from wages to pay off the Wilcox consultants or if you just like watching people suffer, but your refusal to meet your workers for more than 5 hours over THE LAST 6 DAYS is abhorrent and offensive to me.

I am ashamed that I live in this wonderful city when our “leaders” sink to this level of crass disrespect for the workers who support our social fabric, the workers you speak so highly of.

Your behaviour will not go unpunished in November 2008 when citizens wielding ballots all over the city will remember each one of you NPA social pariahs.

“Sam’s Strike” can only exist with 5 NPA councillors continually supporting him.

17% over 5 years for workers in neighbouring municipalities is a fair settlement. As a citizen of Vancouver I would support those kind of numbers. Pay equity for library workers who suffer from gender discrimination IN THE 21ST CENTURY, IN CANADA, is due. We should be ashamed to delay it any longer.

This is the end of the NPA in Vancouver: your obvious desire to corrode our civil society is your undoing.

Your offense is obscene.

It is time to bargain a contract, not rewind our labour culture to the 19th century. Get to the table and do your job!

Sam’s Strike: The Arrogance of the Man and “The Man”

It is clear to me that Sam’s Strike is all about the Vancouver mayor’s deluded sense of autocracy [see below].

While other municipalities are being lined up to support Vancouver’s mean-spirited refusal to bargain in good faith, we wait to watch how long Sam can go thinking that the world will actually revolve around him and his idea that through his immense, sheer will, thousands of people who are actually committed to building community will crack under his might and give in to his petty demands.

His mayoralty is a shame.

Vancouver is the only city in Canada that has had three strikes in the last decade. In a strong economy, to not reward public workers, but instead to demand job insecurity and a contract term to expire days after the Olympics ends is just plain mean. It’s also representative of the grand golden straitjacket of neoliberalism that erodes the social fabric we’ve spent generations building.

Talks with CUPE 15 break down, city fails again to bargain worker issues

[July 28, 2007 08:53 PM]

VANCOUVER – CUPE 15, the union representing striking Vancouver inside workers, returned to the bargaining table yesterday at 9:30 a.m. tabling a 5 year package that addressed Mayor Sullivan’s concern about labour stability through the Olympics, with an understanding that the city was prepared to deal with issues that were also important to the union.

Despite this CUPE 15 movement, the City of Vancouver once again refused to bargain and spent less than 2 hours and 22 minutes over a period of two full days speaking with the union. The rest of the time, the city committee “caucused” while union negotiators sat and waited.

“We knew something was wrong when we arrived at the table and the City of Vancouver did not even have their two top decision makers in the room or in the building,” says CUPE 15 president, Paul Faoro. “You would have thought that with a strike coming into its second week, civic services at a halt and nearly 5,500 Vancouver city workers on the street, that General Manager Mike Zora and City Manager Judy Rogers would have made it a priority to attend and negotiate a settlement. What else could be more important?”

“There is one thing I give the city credit for,” says Faoro. “Consistency. The City of Vancouver has consistently failed to bargain and continues to frustrate the process to this day.”

CUPE 15 presented a complete written package to the city for negotiation on Friday morning. The city refused to respond in writing to the proposal.

“Frankly, we have had enough of this circus, and we suspect the public has had enough too. What is it going to take for the city to realize that manipulation and game-playing is not going to bring about a collective agreement?” says Faoro. “How much does the public have to be inconvenienced and how long do our members have to walk the picket-line without a paycheque, unable to provide the services they are proud to deliver to the residents of Vancouver?”

CUPE 15’s chief negotiator, Keith Graham, says the city is still holding onto their “final offer”, tabled on July 9th, 2007. This is the same offer that union members voted down by an overwhelming 89% because it had takeaways and failed to address issues of importance to the union, like job security (no-contracting out language), improvements for auxiliaries, whistleblower protection and harassment resolution language.

Description of major CUPE 15 issues:

Contrary to common belief, CUPE 15’s current collective agreement has no language in it that protects Vancouver’s inside workers from contracting out. At any moment, the city of Vancouver can outsource whatever services they choose, eliminating jobs and compromising the quality and stability of public services. It is for this reason that CUPE 15’s primary concern is to negotiate language that provides them with job security through the term of the agreement.

“We recognize that is it reasonable for the city of Vancouver to secure labour stability through the Olympics, but it is also reasonable for city workers to seek job security,” says Faoro. “Mayor Sullivan and his management staff have given us no reason to trust that they won’t just contract out our jobs one-by-one over the next 5-years.”

Another major issue that the union would like to see addressed is improvements for auxiliary workers, whom have no right to be scheduled by seniority, no benefits, no statutory holiday pay and have gone from temporary and occasional work relief to a massive under-compensated labour pool. In parks, for instance, two-thirds of the workforce is made up of “auxiliary workers” who are kept in this position for years and years.

CUPE 15 would like to see more of these jobs converted into full-time jobs with benefits and negotiate improvements for remaining auxiliaries that include scheduling by seniority. Right now, management can and does decide to call into work an auxiliary with less than a day on the job over an auxiliary worker with 14 years service with the city.

The union has also made it a priority at the bargaining table to negotiate harassment resolution language and whistleblower protection – contract language that protects workers from discipline and/or job loss when they speak out on an issue of public concern, like water safety, equipment maintenance, safety procedures, etc.

Union package to city of Vancouver, July 27, 2007:

Using the contract ratified in Richmond as a starting point, CUPE 15 tabled a wage increase of 21 percent over 5 years that they clearly stated was negotiable. The package also included proposed benefit improvements and the above-mentioned priorities.

The city claimed that the union’s package amounted to a total cost of 30 percent and was not “affordable and reasonable”. Faoro says the city’s calculation is more “phantom costing” and just an excuse not to begin negotiations in earnest.

“It is frustrating to be at the bargaining table with people who clearly do not understand or are pretending not to understand how negotiations work,” says Faoro. “The idea is both sides present their position and you end up somewhere in between.”

Robin Jones, CUPE National representative and chief negotiator for CUPE 394 and CUPE 718,
the two Richmond locals that ratified a deal last week is available to comment to the media on the total cost of his committee’s initial proposal to the city, which he says began at about 40% cost to the city of Richmond.


“We asked for almost 12 benefit improvements, we agreed to only two in the end, glasses and dietician services. We asked for a $2 an hour shift differential, we agreed to only $1 an hour in the end. We asked for $1.50 an hour dirty pay, we agreed to 75 cents, we asked for 100 percent benefit coverage and we ended up with only 80 percent in the end and the list goes on,” says Jones. “That’s how negotiations work and today we have a signed collective agreement and both sides are happy. But you can’t get there if one party is not willing to negotiate.”

CUPE 15 represents Vancouver’s 2,500 inside city workers who normally work at city, parks, Ray-Cam, and Britannia Community Centre.

Time to get off our fat asses, folks.

I know this will scare people, but it’s time to talk about the truth that Al Gore is only softly, not-too-inconveniently peddling. Peak oil along with global warming and their combined consequences mean radical changes to our alleged birthright. And I’m quite relieved to hear Kunstler talking about these things; I’ve been discussing many of them for a few years now to chimes of alarmism. I like the vindication. Consider these points:

1. Cars are not part of the solution.
2. We have to produce food differently, locally.
3. We’ll have to return to traditional human ecologies at a smaller scale: villages, towns, and cities. The stuff we build in the decades ahead will have to be made of regional materials found in nature.
4. Moving things and people by water and rail is vastly more energy-efficient.
5. We have to transform retail trade. This will require rich, fine-grained, multi-layered networks of people who make, distribute, and sell stuff.
6. We will have to make things again. We’re going to have to make things on a smaller scale by other means. Perhaps we will have to use more water power. The truth is, we don’t know yet how we’re going to make anything. This is something that the younger generations can put their minds and muscles into.
7. We’re going to need playhouses and live performance halls.
8. The next incarnation of education will grow out of the home schooling movement, as home schooling efforts aggregate locally into units of more than one family. God knows what happens beyond secondary ed. The big universities, both public and private, may not be salvageable.
9. We have to reorganize the medical system. The current skein of intertwined rackets based on endless Ponzi buck passing scams will not survive the discontinuities to come. We will probably have to return to a model of service much closer to what used to be called “doctoring.”
10. Enterprise now supersized is likely to fail — everything from the federal government to big corporations to huge institutions. If you can find a way to do something practical and useful on a smaller scale than it is currently being done, you are likely to have food in your cupboard and people who esteem you.

He ends with this bit of juice: “The best way to feel hopeful about the future is to get off your ass and demonstrate to yourself that you are a capable, competent individual resolutely able to face new circumstances.”

Time to get off our fat asses, folks.