“The NPA will not talk about the strike. They refuse to talk about the issues we believe are important to Vancouverites,” said Andrea Reimer at last night's general meeting for Vancouver Library Workers CUPE 391.
CUPE 15 workers came down to the CUPE 391 Library Square strike line in a support of solidarity on August 17th.
Andrea Reimer – Vision Vancouver council candidate, Loretta Woodcock – COPE incumbent parks commissioner, and Stuart Mackinnon – Green Party parks board candidate, all were special guests addressing civic issues for the Nov. 15th Vancouver civic election.
“The civic strike affected our parks, our community centres, our libraries. It is an important issue. But the NPA have not been addressing it.” said Stuart Mackinnon. “It is important for our civic workers to be treated fairly.”
“The NPA has a total disrespect for unionized workers,” said Woodcock. “I see that as a parks commissioner.”
“The City just made many managerial staff exempt staff, by re-classifiying them at a cost of about $10,000 increased salary for doing basically the same job,” said Woodcock “They are doing this to strike-proof the city. They state that unionized workers are getting a 4% increase, and exclude that managers are also getting the same 4% increase.”
The special guest speakers were clearly the highlight of the meeting. Woodcock also discussed how NPA parks chair had put a motion forward to initiate a morale survey, but withdrew it once Woodcock had identified key issues to address. These same issues had shown up on an in-house library culture survey, that showed that the morale at the Vancouver Library was poor before last year's strike action. Everybody agrees the situations are worse post-strike.
I did ask them what they thought about Sam Sullivan's comments to Don Cayo's interview in the Vancouver Sun. Sullivan says 'I did everything I wanted do' Sullivan admitted that one of his regrets during his 14 years of city hall including 3 years as mayor, was that the strike went on too long. Sullivan said:
'The strike is a considerable regret. I don't like to implicate
anybody. These are all my own weaknesses, my own shortcomings. But I
chose to not have any role in it — to leave a lot of room for our
Everybody knew what the deal was — 17.5 per cent. We knew it the weekend the strike started. Everybody knew it.
So I suggested, “Why don't we just offer that?”
was, “Mayor, you don't understand negotiations. You have to offer less.
Then they ask for more. Then you offer more. And eventually you get to
the right number.”'
If this was truly the case, why didn't Mayor Sullivan step in to ensure that a strike never happened. All the other municipalities saw the bargaining positions happening, and they were quickly able to avert forcing strike action. Our CUPE 391 bargaining committee said they had never seen labour negotiations like the ones the city put them through in years of bargaining. The GVRD labour relations bureau kept rejecting CUPE 391 proposals since January when the contract ran out, and never put forward a contract counter-offer until July when it was too late.
Mayor Sullivan instead decided to table a “final offer” to Vancouver civic workers and then force them to vote on it which Vision Vancouver councilor Raymond Louie said “is dangerous bullying, and is more likely to provoke a strike than to end it. It was actually Louie who proposed mediatio only two weeks into the strike, in an effort to bring it to a quick close. Unfortunately the NPA rejected the mediation process…. and the strike dragged on and on.
The GVRD Labour Relations Bureau also had it set that they would not deal with the smaller CUPE 391 library workers, until it had finished negotiating with the larger CUPE 15 inside workers and CUPE 1004 outside workers. So library workers were out of luck regardless. This doesn't sound like a fair negotiating strategy that would ensure good labour relations for a city that has just been chosen as one of Canada’s Top 100
Employers for 2009 by Mediacorp Canada Ltd.
It's actually an embarrassment.
Peter Ladner was not helpful in resolving the strike issues and actually helped to make them worse when he submitted “a vitriolic column in the Vancouver Sun
that regurgitates the City’s discredited propaganda and continues the
myth of a City council protecting residents from their city workers.” http://www.fairnessforcivicworkers.ca/www/news/Ladners_Vancouver_Su