Bill Tieleman takes out the garbage on media coverage of the Vancouver civic strike
Bill Tieleman has written Vancouver newspaper columnists, editorials get facts wrong in trash talking CUPE Vancouver workers over strike and exposes the lapses of journalists who succumbed to all the “strike myths” propagated by Mayor Sam, the City and it's media spin doctors.
around town from the end of the Vancouver city workers' strike – too
bad so much of it was printed in newspapers.
Those who insist on trash-talking workers should at least get their facts straight, but apparently that's asking too much.
Or maybe some columnists are simply suffering amnesia about why and when the strike got “personalized,” strangely forgetting Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan's lead role.
My friend Mike Smyth in the Province railed that: “The labour movement chose to personalize their attacks on Sullivan from Day 1.”
And the Vancouver Sun's Pete McMartin opined that the Canadian Union of Public Employees gained momentum: “by its clever, and unfair, campaign of painting this as 'Sam's Strike.'”
Did the people who advised Mayor Sam on his Olympic spin also advise him to say that the next Vancouver civic election will be “Sullivan vs the unions”? A true leader would recognize that he is Mayor to every citizen in the city – not just the 47.3% of the voting public. Gee… that's not even 50% + 1.
Who controls the media and why did they write the stories / editorials they did – is a good question.
The city of Vancouver is the biggest contributor to the GVRD/Metro Labour Relations Bureau that bargained on their behalf, while other munincipalities did away with their “services” which included hiring the high priced public relations firm The Wilcox Group.
The Wilcox Group was hired specifically to spin the 39 month contract, a CUPE National executive member told me. When that failed, they were fired.
It's interesting that the Wilcox Group's clients include BCTV/CHEK TV/Can West Global Communications and Pacific Newspaper Group (Vancouver Sun and The Province) – two of the largest media influences in the Vancouver region.
But not all the media stories were generated by high priced communication experts.
It was the creative and community minded library workers that created bicycle pickets, puppet shows, author readings, knitting for the homeless, Word on the Strike Fair, and many videos to promote their cause. It was these grass roots actions – not CUPE paid staffers, that inspired stories in the Georgia Straight, 24 Hours, and the Metro such as the Globe & Mail's “Library workers picket with pizazz”
The library workers did this all on volunteer time. We did not sit around on the picket line creating a “War Room.” We wanted peace and resolution. We are on the front lines at the library. We engage the public when they need a book, ask directions or need to be told to “Shh…”
Wherever we set up pickets we were thanked and supported by our patrons. They brought us cookies, coffees and soups. We received donations and letters of support from library unions as far away as Florida and New York. I personally met librarians from St. Paul's Minnesota and Australia who came to the Library Square picket line. Everybody was friendly toward us, with the exception of a few ill-informed people that yelled at us to “pick up the garbage.”
see the brilliant video Grandeur on Georgia about The Wilcox Group vs Pay Equity at