Vancouver Civic Strike: Send the City negotiators to the Chinatown Night market to learn how to bargain

Vancouver Civic Strike: Send the City negotiators to the Chinatown Night market to learn how to bargain

If you went to the Vancouver Chinatown Nightmarket and wanted to buy something that you needed, you normally would ask the price.  If you feel the price is too high, you make a counter-offer and say… “I can pay this much.”  Then the vendor accepts or makes another counter-offer.  If you don't like the price, you either counter-offer or walk away. 

But why do Vancouver City bargaining representatives keep walking away from the table.  Earlier this year, Vancouver City Library workers CUPE 391, met four times with the Vancouver Public Library Board and their GVRD bargaining representatives.  Four times, CUPE 391 was essentially told, “Thank you for your offer, see you next month.” No counter offer was given.

Last week, as a member of CUPE 391, I attended the “study session” on Wednesday, and talked with our union leaders and representatives from CUPE National.  They all expressed dismay at the city's refusal to participate in the “collective bargaining” process. 

CUPE 391 is now on strike for the first time in its history.  We have a workforce that is incredibly diverse and devoted to serving the public.  We engage on the “front-line” with library patrons everyday with our smiles and service, helping them find information, find books they want to read, and help them check out their books.  Sometimes we even “bargain” when they have late books, or fines.  But in the end, everybody is a winner, because they work together towards a mutual end.

The city's refusal to bargain and force workers to strike has created what many people are calling an “unecessary strike,” with un-needed hardship for city staff, city workers and the taxpayers and visitors of Vancouver.

Wikipedia says: Bargaining is a type of negotiation
in which the buyer and seller of a good or service dispute the price
which will be paid and the exact nature of the transaction that will
take place, and eventually come to an agreement. Bargaining is an
alternative pricing strategy to fixed prices.

The following is from the Fairness for Civic Workers website:


Counter-offer momentum building: Tieleman agrees

Well-known 24 hours columnist and former BC Federation of Labour
Assistant to the President, Bill Tieleman, agrees with CUPE that the
next move is in the city's court. Mayor Sullivan and his negotiators
have got to make the next move, and in bargaining, that is a
COUNTER-OFFER. Tieleman also sets the record straight in some news
reports. Check out more on his blog or
read an excerpt here. [August 2, 2007 12:44 PM]


This update is relevant as of 12:15am today. [August 2, 2007 12:10 PM]

Bargaining 101: After receiving an OFFER, present a COUNTEROFFER


The greatest frustration for CUPE from the first day “negotiations”,
which began in September last year, is the total refusal of the
Vancouver led-Bureau (GVRD Labour Relations Bureau) to actually
bargain. This incredible stubbornness is what has led to this strike.
We wonder if the real problem is that they don’t understand bargaining.
This short lesson should help the city of Vancouver, in particular,
understand that when you are presented with an “offer” from the union,
that the next step is to issue a “counter-offer”. [August 2, 2007 11:31 AM]

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