Category Archives: Library Strike

Mediation recommendations: what's going to happen with the CUPE 391 library workers?

Mediation recommendations: what's going to happen with the CUPE 391 library workers?

Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, came to speak to Vancouver library workers on Friday, giving her support for pay equity, stating that library workers have been under-valued. photo Beth Lowther

Mediator Brian Foley, published and gave his recommendations to resolve the Vancouver civic strike with City Inside, City Outside, and City Library Workers on Friday morning Oct 5th.  By 4pm, we had a CBC television news reporter asking library workers for comment.  Our library workers refused to give a comment, as did union members working at the union office.

On the Friday afternoon picket line, we hadn't seen the document yet, but the CBC television reporter gave us the 39 page document and said there is a 17.5 percent increase over five years, a $1000 signing bonus, whistle blower protection, and agreement for contracting out. 

Well, the whistle blower protection wasn't one of our issues, nor were the first 32 pages applicable to the library.  Only the final 7 pagers addressed the library issues.  We have the smallest 800 member union.  And it has been typical that library workers have been seen as the most docile, least protesting – yet underpaid, and under-valued city workers.  This is our first strike in our 77 year union history.

Our library workers did not give the CBC reporter any comment about the recommendations, stating that we would wait for our union bargaining committee to discuss it with us at our planned Sunday meeting, and that we picketed for 70+ days already, we were cautiously optimistic and not going to rush things.  I did give general statements that we were disappointed with city management keeping this strike going for so long, especially since city councilor Raymond Louie had called for mediation back on August 1st.  And I one of my statements was included on Friday night's evening news…. as I was holding my accordion.

This has been an unnecessary strike as the library bargaining committee kept refusing to address union issues, and walking away from the bargaining table.  It is unconsciencable that Library management did not make an opening contract proposal until 2 weeks into the strike, 8 months after the contract expired on Dec 16, 2006.

At a meeting on Sunday morning, CUPE 391 bargaining committee recommended to its membership to reject the mediator Brian Foley's recommendations.  General comments were that the recommendations were lopsided in favour of the Library management, and that the mediator did not understand the issue of pay equity. 

In a Vancouver Sun interview published on Saturday, Foley said that he thought it best to address pay equity by “give them the damn money” by giving 40% of the library workers a one pay grade increase, but without any explanation why specific job positions were selected.  It did not make any sense to the 300+ library workers gathered.

The $1000 signing bonus was also laughed off as bribe.  Conditions were that it would be pro-rated according to hours worked per week, from January 1st to July 25th.  But questions came up as to the minimum per week that had to be required, as well as job shares, or for part-time workers.  Signing bonuses for these workers would then be reduced to less than $500 or as low as $200, then take away the tax on that and the $1000 signing bonus is virtually worthless.  The union had asked for a $2500 bonus.

The good thing is that any of the increases were all dated to January 1st for each year.  The Library bargaining committee has each time tried to move raises to later dates in the year.  Foley did not allow that to happen.

Vancouver library workers have said all along, that this strike is not about the money.  It is a given that 17.5% would be the benchmark, as it was accepted by neighboring cities and library workers.  This strike has been about fairness, respect and pay equity.  Not one of these issues was addressed by Brian Foley's mediated recommendations.  Expect Vancouver library workers to reject his recommendations.

See other media sources:

City strike

Mediator Brian Foley delivered his non-binding recommendations to the City of Vancouver dealing with contentious issues such as layoffs and pay equity, – 66k – CachedSimilar pages

Deal in doubt

Vancouver Sun / Mediator Brian Foley has 'sold us down the river,' said for 300 of 700 library staff, who are mostly women, in the name of pay equity. News – 2 Vancouver unions urge rejection

2 Vancouver unions urge striking members to reject deal: report: Two of three unions representing striking municipal workers in …. Nova Scotia News Feed

Friday Oct 5th, good and sunny day on the strike line

Friday Oct 5th, good and sunny day on the strike line

Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, holds up CUPE 391 Strike placard – photo Beth Lowther

Good day on the strike line today… Author Naomi Klein came to visit Vancouver Library workers and gave a short talk.  She was invited by Craig Searle.

Naomi Klein poses with Vancouver library workers Craig Searle and Todd Wong.  Craig invited Klein to come speak to CUPE 391.  Todd had organized a series or writer's readings from August to September. – photo Beth Lowther

Monica Chattaway brought her violin, and we did some violin/accordion duets on some '20's and '30's songs.

CBC Canada Now reporter came down to the Library Square picket line and interviewed some of us, looking for a reaction to the released recommendations by mediator Brian Foley.  We kept it pretty tight with no comments, as we are waiting for deeper analysis.  My accordion and me… made it on to the evening news.

Vote on the recommendations coming up on Sunday.
(vote was since rescheduled to Tuesday to allow for more members returning from Thanksgiving holidays, and to give our bargaining committee more time to go over the recommendations).

Naomi Klein speaks to Vancouver library workers

Naomi Klein speaks to Vancouver library workers

Naomi Klein poses with CUPE 391 strike placard for media photographers, while Vancouver library workers sit on the south steps of Library Square.  Todd Wong (me) can be seen behind Klein on the immediate right in a yellow jacket. – photo Beth Lowther

Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, came to Library Square to speak to Vancouver library workers.  She said that libraries and library workers are important, and that she supported the pay equity issue that the library workers are fighting for.

Klein introduced her researcher, a librarian, to great applause.  And said that they greatly utilized library resources, especially the inter-library loan system… to more applause.

See the 6 minute video of Klein speaking to Vancouver library workers on YouTube:

Add Video to QuickList
From: workingtv

I had the opportunity to meet her after her brief talk and thank her for coming out, and took some pictures with her with Craig Searle, who had asked her to come speak to the library workers.

Naomi Klein stands with library workers Craig Searle and Todd Wong.  Craig Searle invited Naomi Klein to speak to Vancouver library workers, striking for pay equity issues.  Todd had previously organized a reading series for authors coming to speak to the library workers on the picket line in August and September. photo Beth Lowther.

CUPE 391 President Alex Youngberg wrote this on the blog:

Naomi Klein stands in solidarity with Vancouver Public Library
workers. The author of “No Logo” told road stories from her latest book
“The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism, last night to a sold-out
audience at John Oliver Secondary School. She gave several excellent
examples of the infringement of the public’s democratic rights when
those in and with power capitalise on war and other gloabal disasters.
Naomi thanked library workers for help with her research and librarians
were credited with their work in protecting in the commons. Great
applause from the packed room! Obviously people of taste and erudition.

This CUPE 391 Vancouver Public Library worker thanked Naomi for her
kinds words. I gave her one of our famous collector buttons and said I
would be proud to share her words with the members on the picket line.
Naomi said she will be on that line at 1.00 p.m. Friday, October 5,
2007, at Central Library. Thunderous applause from our well-read
public. We love our members of the public and we love Naomi Klein.

Word on the Strike…CUPE 391 picket line adds creativity to annual Word on the Street event

Word on the Strike…CUPE 391 picket line adds creativity to annual Word on the Street event

It was a busy day down at Vancouver's biggest book and magazine fair, Word on the Street.  Lots of authors including Ruth Ozeki, Meg Tilly, Stan Persky, Vincent Lam and many many more.  Unfortunately… it rained a lot, but it didn't dampen spirits!

When I bumped into author Stan Persky and Hal Wake, Stan told Hal that the last reading he had done was the one I set up with Stan for the CUPE 391 picket line on August 24th.  Stan thought it was so appropriate that since his books at the library were “locked up” and unavailable to the public, he could come down to Library Square and give a reading.

Joy Kogawa House Society also had a booth at the fair, located at the Canada Post parking lot site.  Joy Kogawa House is not only the childhood home of one of Canada's most important authors, it is also the only publicly known house that was confiscated by the Canadian government while Japanese Canadians were being held in internment camps during WW2.

Ann-Marie Metten set up the display.  David Kogawa took a turn attending it, then my girlfriend Deb Martin and I also took some turns.  The display featured pictures of Joy Kogawa as a child at the house, and her grade 2 picture at David Lloyd George Elementary School in Marpole before the 1942 internment of Japanese Canadians during WW2. 

We handed out postcard invitations to the November 10th Open House event, which will feature authors Ruth Ozeki and Shaena Lambert.  The title of the event is War and Remembrance, and follows the 2 year anniversary of when we presented the Vancouver Opera's Touring production of Naomi's Road, at the Vancouver Public Library in 2005 to help build awareness of the campaign to save Joy Kogawa's childhood home.

For the Word on the Strike event held by CUPE 391, as an “enhanced picket line,”  I played my accordion to help add musical ambiance.  It was great to see so many people dancing to my tango, or waltzes.  Author Jean Barman dropped by to say hello.  Bill Saunders, president of the Vancouver District Labour Council, dropped by and we sang “O Solo Mio” together.

Cupe15 workers Randy and Diane, are also the leaders of the Cantastoria street theatre
group that has been going from strike site to strike site putting on their story about
hard-working labourers who build a strong community, only to be stepped on by the
"big foot."

Check out my flickr pictures

Music Cabaret for Vancouver Districet Labour Council at the Rhizome

Music Cabaret for Vancouver District Labour Council at the Rhizome

Friday Night, September 28th
Rhizome Café
317 East Broadway, Vancouver. Phone: 604.872.3166.

It was the first VDLC music cabaret, held at the Rhizome Cafe.  Organized by Earle Peach, donations at the door were raised for CUPE 391 Vancouver Library workers' hardship fund.  I was MC for the event, and I have worked for the Vancouver Public Library for over thirty years, all but one year as a part-time employee. 

Each month Earle Peach has organized a music cabaret held at the Mount Pleasant Community Centre… but that is closed now due to the Vancouver civic strike.  He contacted a few months ago and asked me to MC this new event at the Rhizome.

This was an incredible night of community, labour songs and superb musicianship.  I didn't know a lot of songs from the labour canon, other than “Solidarity Forever” – but this turned into an evening where I learned a lot about the labour movement, its history, and some of the players in Vancouver.  And I told them all that I wished I could wrap my arms around them all, give them a big big hug, and bring them down to Library Square to meet my CUPE 391 Union brothers and sisters, and have them perform at Word on the Strike.

At the end of the evening almost $500 had been raiser for the CUPE 391 hardship fund for the Vancouver Library Workers.  Here I am holding the money jar with (l-r) Phil Vernon, Dan Keeton, Todd Wong (me), Bill Saunders, Bob Rosen, Earle Peach and Barbara Jackson.

I started off by introducing myself and my accordion, and telling the audience that I was putting in my time on the picket line at Library Square.  I told them about how we have a very creative and engaging picket line with musicians and knitters, flying bicycle pickets that go visit other library sites, community centres and other picket sites for CUPE 15 and 1004 Vancouver City inside and outside workers, who are also on strike.  I demonstrated the songs I play on the line, and how I make my accordion sound like an organ at a hockey game…

Liz Thor-Larsen, started the evening off playing on her accoustic guitar and sing songs about being a union maid.

More Than Just Pay, are a group of school teachers that sang lively tunes about labour strife.

Tom Hawken–songs

Sandy Cameron read a short poem then a long poem about when the Relief Camp Workers' Union went on strike in 1935, occupying the Carnegie Centre, then going On to Ottawa.

Dave Lidstone & Andrea Smith–songs

I acknowledged that Bill Saunders, president of the Vancouver District Labour Council, was in the audience and that he spoke at the Anniversaries 1907 Reconciliation Dinner – about the role that organized labour played in the Anti-Asian riots 100 year ago, and how things have changed 100 years labour with racial diversity becoming a positive issue for labour unions. 

I then read a poem I had written about my great-great grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan, who came to Canada in 1896, upon the occasion of seeing a picture of him hanging on the wall of a photo exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Jen Efting– sang a beautiful accapella song.

Earle Peach & Barbara Jackson were next.  I told the story of how I first met Earle on Facebook.  Soon after I was driving down Clark Drive and spotted him at a bus stop recognizing his picture from Facebook.  I drove around the corner to come by the bus stop, and offered him a ride.  Earle and Barbara did some wonderful harmonies on their songs.  Earle also leads the Solidarity Notes Choir, which has performed at Library Square and Brittania Branch libraries during the library strike.

Dan Keeton hosts a show on Co-op Radio called Union Made.  He sang several songs including a Steve Earle song.

Peter Marcus–poetry

Phil Vernon has been a long time activist who now lives on Saltspring Island.  He told some great introductions to each of his songs.  In particular was a song titled Baruka, about supporting the labourers in Africa, where he and his partner do work.

Bob Rosen & the Gram Partisans closed the evening.  Prior to introducing them to the audience, they shared with me their love for the music of Gram Parsons, Steve Earle, and I shared with them my love for Emmylou Harris' music. All the band members are teachers. 

Very cool that Bill Hood is a member of this band.  I first met Bill when he told me about a fundraiser that he did at Chief Maquinna School for the “Save Kogawa House” campaign.  I had invited Bill to the first open house last year for Joy Kogawa House.  Of course I love almost any band with an accordion!

Georgia Straight: Commentary – A Strike about nothing throttles residents

Georgia Straight Commentary A strike about nothing throttles residents

During this 2007 Vancouver civic strike, I have told the Georgia Straight about the incredible intellectual, creative and cultural brain trust being wasted during the Vancouver Library CUPE 391 strike.

The Georgia Straight interviewed me for the August 30th News Features | Boss and union tell different tales | It was a story that revealed that Vancouver library workers are paid substantially less than their counterparts in Toronto, and starting labourers in other city jobs.  CUPE 391 President Alex Youngberg gave good reasons why pay equity is important for the library workers…

But one whole month later, Vancouver library workers hosted “Word on the Strike” as a parallel event to Vancouver's largest book and magazine fair, Word on the Street.  It was a large demonstration of CUPE 391's creative, intellectual and cultural response to being on their first strike in their union's 77 year history.  Puppet shows, street theatre performances, information tables, origami making workshops, musical performances, poetry and literary readings…

Community groups still can't present their shows or lectures at the library.  Historians can't access archives.  Small businesses can't access databases, Scientists can't access reference material, students can't access course and related material, ESL citizens can't access multilingual books, magazines and newspapers, citizens who don't have home computer or internet can't access their free hour of computer internet time, visitors can't ask for directions etc.

And why?

Because Vancouver library workers have been without a contract since December 16th…
Because the Library Management's negotiating team did not present their first proposals until 2 weeks into the strike, long after CUPE 391 made their opening proposal in December of 2006.
Because the NPA has a secret agenda?  see 24 Hours Vancouver – News: Mayor Sam's the real loser in strike
– written by ex-NPA board member Alex Tsakumis

Read Charlie Smith's commentary in the current Sep 27 Georgia Straight

Commentary By Charlie Smith

Library workers exercise their minds on the picket line, but that

Library workers exercise their minds on the picket line, but that's little comfort to seniors and kids who want to read.

save the city a few bucks at the cost of public health, literacy, a
thriving arts community, social justice, and a whole lot of jobs.

used to call Seinfeld a show about nothing. Well, for the past two
months, Vancouver residents have been subjected to a civic workers
strike about nothing. The unions and management can agree on wages.
They can agree on the term of the contract. They just can't work out a
few other details, such as job security and a whistle-blower provision.
The library workers want pay equity–otherwise known as equal pay for
work of equal value–which adds a complicating factor to their dispute.

defies common sense why the NPA government can't promise job security
when the city is going through a growth spurt and there is likely to be
a slew of retirements in the coming years. One possible explanation is
that city managers want to prolong the civic workers strike so they can
rake in oodles of extra overtime pay and save the city a bundle of
money by not paying public servants.

In the meantime, this has
created misery for hundreds of thousands of citizens. As the Georgia
Straight has chronicled during this sorry affair, it has meant that
mothers have to worry about their kids stepping on hypodermic needles
in city parks. Poor families can't go to community centres or to city
pools. Major real-estate developments have been put on hold because
companies can't get permits. Entrepreneurs who have spent their lives
working in this city now face the prospect of their tradespeople moving
to Alberta.

Meanwhile, seniors and the visually impaired have
been deprived of reading material, as have Vancouver's vibrant
multicultural communities, who rely on the library's extensive
collection of multilingual books.

That's not all. Arts groups
have been shafted by the closure of civic facilities such as the
Orpheum and Queen Elizabeth theatres. Many organizations had their
hopes dashed that the strike would be over by September, including the
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The gay and lesbian community took its
lumps during Pride week when the Roundhouse Community Arts &
Recreation Centre was shut down. The Vancouver Recital Society
scrambled to find a venue for star soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, thanks to
this strike about nothing.

During the last election, Mayor Sam
Sullivan claimed he cared about the arts in Vancouver. He had the nerve
to send invitations to the media, asking reporters to offer input on
creating an arts policy for the city. Memo to the mayor: actions speak
louder than words. The closure of civic facilities suggests you really
don't care about the arts, and Vancouver's sizeable arts community will
not forget this during the next election campaign–or during an NPA
nomination race, if Sullivan's board has the guts to reverse a recent
decision and allow a competitive contest.

Once this strike is
settled, heads should roll, starting with Vancouver's grossly overpaid
city manager, Judy Rogers, who collected $318,838 in compensation last
year, but who couldn't be bothered to show up at a hotel for
negotiations with the unions earlier this summer. In the meantime,
several talented city planners have buggered off to Abu Dhabi.

unions aren't entirely without blame for this mess. CUPE Local 15 has
demanded union jurisdiction in all Olympic and Paralympic facilities
during and after the Games, according to the city Web site (
NPA councillor Peter Ladner wrote an opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun
claiming that the unions are demanding no layoffs for five years, and
want the City to forfeit any chance of contracting out services.

Ladner neglected to mention was that job security is a very real
consideration to any public servant subject to the whims of right-wing
politicians. In this new era in British Columbia, every right-wing dolt
drools at the mere mention of the words public-private partnership.
That's no comfort to people worried about their jobs. Perhaps if Ladner
and city officials set some parameters in this area, the workers might
not be so suspicious.

But let's not kid ourselves about what is
really extending this ugly strike. It's money. By its own very
conservative estimate, the City saved over $1.3 million during the
seven-week dispute in 2000. Gross savings were close to $11 million,
but city staff claimed a whopping $9.6 million in lost revenues and
strike costs.

Is it any wonder that city managers are placing
such emphasis on parking enforcement this time around, rather than
keeping community centres open for the kids? Is it any wonder that
senior brass don't seem too concerned about needles in parks and no
talking books for the blind? If you're confused about why this strike
about nothing is taking so long to settle, just follow the money, and
you'll have your answer.


See related stories on the Vancouver civic workers strike at

A side exit from the strike (September 27, 2007)
A strike about nothing throttles residents (September 27, 2007)
Labour expert says it will be hard for union and city to reject an agreement based on mediator's recommendations (September 26, 2007)
Library workers agree to enhanced mediation (September 26, 2007)
Vancouver civic workers strike undermines MS patient's recovery (September 21, 2007)
Civic strike harms the poor (September 13, 2007)
Is the civic workers strike exacerbating the gap between rich and poor in Vancouver? (September 13, 2007)
Sam Sullivan's strike strategy (September 13, 2007)
Boss and union tell different tales (August 30, 2007)
Suzanne Anton: Vision using strike for political gain
(August 16, 2007)
Strike stalls developers (August 9, 2007)
Strike shuts down meeting (August 2, 2007)
NPA divided on strike refund (August 2, 2007)
Rats, yes, but bacteria love garbage strikes too (July 26, 2007)
Long strike could jeopardize construction (July 26, 2007)
Negotiations stalled on civic-worker contracts (June 14, 2007)

Word on the Strike – a unique event of creativity and community

VANCOUVER—Visitors to Vancouver's favourite literature and literacy festival, the Word on the Street, will be delighted to discover Word on the Strike,
an upbeat special event presented by striking CUPE 391 library workers
at Library Square on Sunday, September 30 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. CUPE
15 has also been instrumental in organizing and supporting the event.

Capitalizing on the diverse talents and creativity of Vancouver's library and civic workers, Word on the Strike, held along side of Word on the Street,
is intended as a complementary event featuring a diverse range of
information tables, haiku, face painting, a puppet show, origami,
buttons, and much more. Word on the Strike collector edition buttons will be distributed by donation at the event.

“We are pleased that Word on the Street will be able to
continue this year, and that we are able to keep the integrity of our
picket line in such an innovative way,” said CUPE 391 President Alex
Youngberg. “The past 10 weeks have been very difficult for both our
members and Vancouver residents. It is very important to us that we
continue to positively engage with the public.”

CUPE 391 and CUPE 15 members are looking forward to welcoming the
community to their event and are encouraging festival attendees,
authors, participants and performers to visit them at Library Square.

Word on the Strike
Sunday, September 30, 2007
10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Library Square, 350 West Georgia Street

This week on the Library Square picket line… when I'm 64!

This week on the Library Square picket line… when I'm 64!

“When I get older… when I'm 64” – Chris and me waving to the cars on Georgia St.

I played Beatles songs on my accordion on Tuesday.  This was to celebrated Day 64 on the CUPE 391 Library workers picket line.  Music is a great way to lighten the mood, and engage the public.  I receive so many smiles from passers by, and so many thank yous from my fellow picketers.

On Wednesday evening, my friend Monica and I were sitting at the CUPE 391 information booth at the corner of Homer and Georgia when we noticed all the people wearing Canucks had an exhibition hockey game down the street at GM Place.  Monica hadn't brought her violin – but I had my accordion.  I quickly grabbed it and played the tunes associated with organists at hockey rink arenas.  I played snippets of Hungarian Dance #5, Scott Joplin's The Entertainer, and the tango La Cumparsita… I even played Entry of the Gladiators – normally associated with circus music.  We asked people to sign our petition, as we also offered free hockey trivia – making note that many reference questions are for sports trivia at the information desk.  We even had a family from Nevada sign the petition.  He used to be a librarian in Vancouver.

At one point a car stopped, and out popped Andrea Reimer, one of my new friends this year.  Andrea signed our petition and posed for a photograph.  Back in May, Andrea gave a talk for our VPL staff conference.  I also know her through other community contacts.  She is executive director of the Western Wilderness Committee.  I first met her back in 2002, when I helped organize Asian Heritage Month presentations to the Vancouver School Board, when she was the Green Party's first elected member at the Vancouver School Board. 

On Thursday night, I set up my accordion across from the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts.  It was the opening season of Ballet BC, and they were presenting Giselle.  Sitting across from the Centre, the sound bounces very nicely, especially if I play something like Tocatta in D Minor by Bach.  I decided to open up my repertoire of classical pieces including Tchaikovsky's Neopolitan Song from the Nutcracker Ballet, Espana by Wautefel,  and a medley of Strauss waltzes.  We had lots of smiles from people passing by

Today is Day 68 of the CUPE 391 Vancouver Library Workers strike.  We have been without a contract for 271 days…  since December 16, 2006.  While our union proposed a contract to our employer back in December, we did not receive an official offer from them until two weeks into the strike.  This was after constant stonewalling, and refusal to address employee concerns and issues.  Please see the CUPE 391 website for
more information on our issues such as pay equity, improvements for
part-time and auxiliary workers, improved language for job security,
improvements for health benefits.

Thankfully, both sides have now moved to mediation with Brian Foley, which will be non-binding.  It is similar to what he has already worked with for CUPE 15 and 1004 Vancouver City inside and outside workers.  It was back on August 1st when the Vancouver civic strike had gone into its 2nd week, that city councillor Raymond Louie called for mediation to solve the strike issues.  7 1/2 weeks later mediation with Brian Foley  finally became a reality for CUPE 15 and 1004, while CUPE 391 Library Workers went into consultation with Debra Cameron.  Foley has now taken over CUPE 391 negotiations because Cameron was not further available due to time constraints.

This weekend is also Vancouver's The Word On The Street – Book & Magazine Festival.  It traditionally takes place at Library Square, and on the adjoining streets of Hamilton and Homer St.  But this year the CBC Plaza is under construction and pickets are up at Library Square.  Our union felt that it was integral to maintain our picket lines.  It is also unfortunate that picket lines have affected Vancouver arts and cultural communities and festivals, as many events have been forced out of the Orpheum Theatre, Roundhouse and False Creek Community Centres.  Hopefully the City management will soon see the terrible toll this strike is impacting on our city, and work towards a constructive resolution.

The Library Workers will be holding a parallel event titled Word on the Strike.  Information booths, displays, puppet shows, music performances, readings and theatre skits will be set up on the picket lines to help inform the public about the Vancouver civic strike.  All the creative things that we do to inspire the Globe and Mail news story titled Library workers picket with pizzazz.  It should all combine to be one very interesting day on the picket line.

Think City addresses Whistle blowing and the Vancouver Civic Strike

Why Whistleblowing is Good for Vancouver

The following article is reproduced from the September 11 edition of the Think City
City of Vancouver and its three Canadian Union of Public Employees
(CUPE) locals are back at the negotiating table this week, and not a
moment too soon. Like everyone else, Think City is hopeful the points
of dissonance keeping the two sides from reaching an agreement can be
Among the more curious aspects of the now 54
day-old municipal stalemate is the stall-out over language around
employee protection for reporting wrong-doing at city hall. For those
on the outside looking in, it's hard to see what the debate is about.
Whistleblower protection, the name usually given to such protective
measures, seems to be a no-brainer for the interests of municipal
As this week's Georgia Straight
points out, in cases where employees have blown the whistle on
organizational or governmental wrong-doing the perils of not having
whistleblower protection have included harassment, intimidation, and
loss of employment.
protection is far from a perfect solution but it does provide a modest
baseline of security. This type of security is an important component
of the system of checks and balances that are in place in our civic
institutions. In fact, it's surprising this sort of protection isn't
already part of the city's human resources practices.
so, CUPE Local 15, the union that represents the city’s inside workers,
wants whistleblower protection embedded in the new collective
agreement, proposing language similar to that used by the City of
Surrey – which Vancouver's own city council has already endorsed.
senior management suggest it was waiting for Mayor Sullivan and council
to meet this fall to develop a policy that would apply to all staff,
not just unionized employees. They further suggest that it would be
“inappropriate” to proceed on this prior to council’s autumn
Something here doesn’t add up.
the fact the same senior managers and human resources staff that would
be developing the policy for council to review have also known this
whistleblower issue would be coming up. They could have prepared for
Second, and more to the point, Council will have to
approve whatever contract gets negotiated – which gives them the
opportunity to review, debate and ultimately approve any such language.
If anything else, the current contract negotiations and bargaining
allows the City of Vancouver to get a head-start on a process that is
long overdue.
While the idea of a universal whistleblower
policy for all employees is commendable, it certainly does not need to
be a sticking point in the current negotiations. If nothing else,
stalling on this point makes city council and senior management look
suspect – something that is damaging both in the short and long term.
The city should recognize the present labour
negotiations represent one of the best opportunities to improve the
checks and balances of accountability. They can start by building
whistleblower protection into the new collective agreement. Then, if
they want to enhance the language or policy, or roll the policy out to
exempted staff as well, so be it. There are ways to account for such
changes in the collective agreement.
Given the pressures
associated with development in the ramp up to the Olympics, having
something like whistleblower protection isn’t a bad thing at all – in
fact, it is necessary. It will help to promote accountability at a time
when there are innumerable questions being asked about the way in which
planning and development decisions are getting made.
term whistle-blowing comes, we are told, from the English bobbies that
blasted a pea-whistle to stop wrong-doing. Blow the whistle on
something egregious in your organization or government and you have a
bit of protection.
It’s hard to believe that this is one of the key issues prolonging this
strike. Ironically, perhaps if there was such a form of protection
already in place, we might have a better chance of finding out why the
city’s senior staff is dragging its feet.

July 25, 2007
Strike Raises Debate About City's Future
are navigating their way through week one of a municipal strike. And so
far, the shut-down of city services has managed to provoke more
questions than anything else.
The halting no-shows of
the City of Vancouver's human resources team
at the negotiating table, the “crashing” of a city press conferences by CUPE negotiators, Mayor Sullivan's preference for Cambie St. bus tours over bargaining, and the debate over whether or not citizens should receive rebates for services not-received have all left piles of unanswered queries alongside the overflowing bins on city streets.
many, the strike has prompted speculation on how, when and why the
priorities of Vancouver get set the way they do. The strike is an
abrupt push into the world of civic inquiry, courtesy of closed pools,
reduced library hours and 150-plus city sites surrounded by placard
carrying city workers.
City is hoping for a fair and speedy resolution to the labour dispute.
At the same time, while the city and union are struggling to get back
to the bargaining table, our organization has spent the last couple of
months undertaking some planning and negotiating of our own.
Welcome to Dream Vancouver and the next phase of Think City…

CUPE 15 “strike theatre” came to Library Square on Friday”

CUPE 15 “strike theatre” came to Library Square on Friday”

Friday was a busy busy day, as the CUPE 391 “strike theatre
troupe” came to visit Library Square, following our weekly Friday bbq. 
It is a form of interactive street theatre used to present ideas in an
entertaining way.  The organizer (?) asked members of the library
workers to participate.  It was fun!

At our 3:30 crew talk, it
was learned that the media blackout had been lifted, and that the city
was now calling for mediators for CUPE 15 and CUPE 1004 talks, while a
facilitator would be appointed for CUPE 391 talks.

The theatre
troupe then changed plans.  A previous plan to go perform at the Art
Gallery, was exchanged to go perform at the CBC.  I checked with them,
to find out who they would approach at CBC, and volunteered to
introduce them to some of my CBC contacts.  The group stood outside the
CBC entrance on Cambie St, while I contacted the Newsroom.  Nervous
security guards were wary of the picket signs (turned over blank), and
reporters were anxious for information as they had just heard that
talks had broken down and that mediators were being called in.

A CBC cameraman came down and met us, then filmed the theatre troupe at Library Square.

Sep 14 CUPE 15 Strike Theatre comes to Library Square

Sep 14 CUPE 15 Strike Theatre comes to Library Square