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City Workers Strike 2009

cdr108

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By law, could Miller just call a press conference and say: We haven't been able to come up with an agreement: You're all fired. Request for Proposals for private contracting is up as of now.

that would be nice.

considering the union contract expired in winter 2008 (they haven't had a valid contract for 6 months suppposedly), the City and the mayor should get on with it ... if they couldn't decide throughout all that time, why delay it any further?
 

TheProfessor

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By law, could Miller just call a press conference and say: We haven't been able to come up with an agreement: You're all fired. Request for Proposals for private contracting is up as of now.
I would love to see that happen. That, or for people to start dumping their garbage in the front yards of striking workers :)
 

Eug

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Maybe the union was biding its time until the market started to pick up before going on strike. If so, they timed it wrong. I wonder if strategically they could have been better off waiting until summer 2010, while in the meantime feigning negotiations with the city for a new contract.

I suspect the union really didn't expect this amount of backlash. I suspect they knew that they'd have less sympathy than in other years, but probably didn't expect nearly the entire public to be against them since day 1.

Meanwhile, the National Post just ran an article about union welfare office employees trying to go back to work but being prevented from doing so.

A dozen unionized City of Toronto employees lay on beach blankets and sat in folding chairs outside a welfare office in Scarborough yesterday, working on their tans.

These workers (pictured above), most of them young women, want to cross the picket line and return to their jobs helping Toronto’s least fortunate, but striking workers with Local 79 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees will not let them in.

They are being paid, but they cannot enter their workplace, and the city is letting it happen.


The strikers here let management staff and social assistance recipients enter and leave at will. Inside the office, one client was reading the help wanted ads in a newspaper while waiting for a meeting with a case worker. I told her about the pickets preventing staff from coming in to work.

“That makes no sense,†she said. “It’s crazy. What about all of us who don’t have a job? If I had their job, at least I’d have an income other than social assistance.†And she added, “Unions suck.â€

Most of the pickets at this Scarborough strip mall do not work here. Pat Carito is a surveyor with engineering services who works on Upjohn Road in North York. But since the strike began he has joined a “flying squad,†who go to picket line trouble spots. He arrived here Monday with other pickets to stop unionized workers crossing the line.

“They’re scabs,†Mr. Carito said. “That’s disgusting to see them try to take away our jobs. We’ve fought for our benefits, we can’t let them get away with it. What bugs me is they€™re getting paid just to sit here.â€
 

cdr108

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A dozen unionized City of Toronto employees lay on beach blankets and sat in folding chairs outside a welfare office in Scarborough yesterday, working on their tans.

These workers (pictured above), most of them young women, want to cross the picket line and return to their jobs helping Toronto’s least fortunate, but striking workers with Local 79 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees will not let them in.

Mr. Carito said ".... What bugs me is they’re getting paid just to sit here.â€
hold on there Mr. Carito ... it is you and your fellow local 79 CUPE members not letting them inside the building to do their job !
 

syn

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If I want to hire IT professionals from India, for example, I am not free to do so. If I want to hire a lawyer from Slovenia, I am not free to do so. Hiding behind 'qualifications' is a distortion. Coal mined in China is not done to the same health and safety standards as done here, yet there is no restriction on importing steel made with it. If want to trust a Russian doctor with my health, one without Canadian accreditation, that should be my choice. Just as it is when I purchase goods made under lessor health, safety and environmental standards than if they were made here.




Then have a equivalency exam and open the immigration floodgates.
That depends what you need them for, and if you need them on location. There are a lot of professionals you can hire online in India to do work for you.
 

Eug

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Wage commentary from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (as reported in the G&M)

A stunning piece of research by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has chronicled the public/private wage gap. It found that public-sector workers across Canada earn 8 per cent to 17 per cent more than people with similar jobs in the private sector. The public-sector wage advantage is now 11.9 per cent for municipal workers, 7.9 per cent for provincial workers and 17.3 per cent for federal workers.

That's just half the story. They also get better benefits and pensions. Their work weeks are shorter (typically 33.5 hours, versus 37.3 in the private sector), and they get more vacation and sick leave. Once you calculate the value of the benefits and shorter work time, the total compensation advantage adds up to 35.9 per cent for municipal workers, 24.9 per cent for provincial workers and 41.7 per cent for federal workers.
 

nfitz

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... and I think that it provides a great perspective of a younger person on strike, but I think the analysis in the article suffers a bit from her lack of objectivity.
Sure it does - and she does say as much in the article. That being said, I'd say the objectivity in the article would exceed expectations one would have of a 16-year old summer student. There's a follow up on page GT1 today BTW.
 

Ahab

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A stunning piece of research by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has chronicled the public/private wage gap. It found that public-sector workers across Canada earn 8 per cent to 17 per cent more than people with similar jobs in the private sector. The public-sector wage advantage is now 11.9 per cent for municipal workers, 7.9 per cent for provincial workers and 17.3 per cent for federal workers.
This is a rather broad generalization and I'm not sure if it's that helpful. This discrepancy in compensation favouring public sector employees exists primarily with less-skilled positions. The private sector clearly compensates skilled workers and professionals significantly better than the public sector. Funny thing is you don't hear any public outcry about this public/private wage gap.
 

afransen

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No one complains because no one is forcing them to work for the government. If they can get a better deal in the private sector, they should.
 

kEiThZ

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This is a rather broad generalization and I'm not sure if it's that helpful. This discrepancy in compensation favouring public sector employees exists primarily with less-skilled positions. The private sector clearly compensates skilled workers and professionals significantly better than the public sector. Funny thing is you don't hear any public outcry about this public/private wage gap.
As someone who works in a public sector office, I can definitely say that's not a generalization. Wages are actually most comparable in the middle in my experience (military officer with an engineering degree). Most public sector professionals get wages that are pretty much on par with the private sector. It's what the private sector does not get (amazing pensions and out of this world medical, dental, family benefits) that creates the disparity with the private sector.

The top and the bottom though are different stories. Workers at the bottom of the public sector are significantly overpaid. And that's not in a "give them a nice standard of living" kinda way. When public sector secretaries make as much as university educated professionals in the private sector there's something wrong. When a cashier makes 25 bucks an hour there's something wrong. What does this public sector cashier do that makes him/her worth 2.5 times more than what your Zellers/Walmart staff gets paid?

Middle management is even worse. For the life of me I will never understand why the public sector (or at least the federal and provincial governments) have so many managers. In the federal civil service, team leaders who lead 5 people make near six figures and you have directors who lead 30-50 people who make 150k a year. Compare that to a 24 year old Air Force or Army Captain who could lead a department of 100+ skilled personnel without breaking a sweat, but gets about 70k-100k a year (varied for seniority). Or his non-military, MBA equipped counterpart, who'd probably be making similar dough in the private sector.

At the very top, one could argue it comes down to sanity again and there's even an argument to be made that most executives who are deputy ministers or assistant deputy ministers are underpaid for what they do. But when it comes to middle management and the lowest rung, there is not a doubt in my mind that the two highest levels of government could probably stand to cut those payrolls in half (less pay or lose a few workers). If an organization can run during a strike just by using 'management staff' then they probably have far too much management!
 

Ahab

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No one complains because no one is forcing them to work for the government. If they can get a better deal in the private sector, they should.
I guess then the disparity is a non-issue. People should just get the best deal they can whether it is in the public sector or private sector. I don't see anything wrong with that.
 

afransen

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It's an issue because unions have a monopoly on government services. If they aren't willing to do the work for the salary offered, they blockade public property, shut down vital public services and prevent replacement workers from doing their work. I can't blame public sector union members for getting the best deal they can (but I have every right to dislike their MO/attitude/sense of entitlement)--but only if governments cannot be and are not constrained in their ability to source labour elsewhere, whether it be privatization, out-sourcing, replacement workers, etc.
 
M

master_t

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they blockade public property
i'm neutral on unions in general, i am generally in favor of unions but sometimes i see them asking for more then what people in the private sector who have decent jobs but arent a member of union get.

The blockade of public property is where they lost me this time round. I mean ok they dont pick up the gabage cause they are on strike. ok that's valid. but they should not be allowed to stop people from picking up their own garbage and tossing it on public property designated for garbage disposal that the union's dont own.
 

Ahab

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The blockade is definitely problematic. It's one thing not to pick up the garbage. It's another to prevent people from disposing of it on their own.

I personally don't care if the city ever picks up the garbage again as I think I can store my garbage in my garage indefinitely. Most of my neighbours are doing the same. Garbage pickup is definitely not an essential service. I suspect those going to the dumps are in the minority and it's just the media making it a big deal of it.

One has to remember that a strike involves a lot of risks. Not only do union members not get paid, they also risk demonstrating how irrelevant they are the longer this strike continues. I think the last provincial OPSEU strike taught that lesson to the members of OPSEU.
 

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