Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Toronto City workers on strike

Toronto City employees are on strike this week with no sign of an agreement in the near future. At the heart of the issue is sick benefits. City employees have one of the sweetest deals anywhere. Employees earn 18 sick days each year, can bank what they don't use, and get paid out upon retirement. The City would like to change that to a more affordable program. There are a number of models out there that work out pretty well for everyone concerned. The CUPE, like most unions doesn't ever want to give up what it successfully negotiated in the past. This isn't going to be a popular strike given so many recession related job-losses. Many people would be happy to grab a City job even with a quarter of the sick days.

When we say City employees, we're talking about waste collection, daycare, community centres, parking, by-law enforcement, permits and more. Highlighting the strike though, will be waste collection. The strike is only two days old and already people are dumping garbage in parks. I should note that in the former Etobicoke where we live, waste collection is contracted out, so we're not going to face the smelly mess the rest of the city is going to have to cope with.

I'm OK with some City employees being able to strike. I respect the collective bargaining process. However, I draw the line at garbage because it is a health issue. I expect the City government and the provincial government to take steps to protect us from unhealthy piles of stinking garbage. This is a test for Mayor Miller and for Premier McGuinty. An angry Mayor Miller won't tolerate dumping. Well look, deal with the problem. In my opinion, waste collection employees should have a fair arbitrated relatively generous settlement, comparable to similar work elsewhere, on the road to becoming an essential service.

13 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Isn't the LCBO going on strike too? It's going to be a rough summer for you!

Wandering Coyote said...

Our ambulances are on strike! I had no idea until I was at the bus stop and one went by with a big black sign over the logo saying ON STRIKE. I know more about your garbage woes than what's going on in my own back yard!

Har! word verification = frown

Captain Karen said...

Barb, I heard the same thing. Bad days ahead for Torontonians! Mr. A...I agree with you. I'm all about people having the right to strike however there are certain occupations where, should they strike and stop working, things become dangerous: police, fire, doctors/nurses (in Coyote's case ambulance workers), garbage, water treatment.

As a government employee (don't hate me), I know that compared to most folks I've got a pretty sweet deal. I'm interested to see how the sitution in T.O. plays out given the tough times, job-wise. I'll be paying attention.

mister anchovy said...

As of this morning, LCBO is still at the table. I hope they achieve a settlement.

The Preacherman said...

As a union rep in the UK (Unite formerly The Transport & General Workers Union) I fully support the right to withdraw your labour if management attempt to attack your terms and conditions.

The recession not withstanding unions have to protect their workers terms and conditions negotiated over the years. Never accept a reduction under any circumstances.

Why?

Because management will have protected bonuses, pensions etc etc etc.

Politicians are feathering their own nests across the globe, management are protecting their positions and terms and conditions.

To save money they want to hit the working man and not the management.

No way.

Touch us and we strike. It's the way it has to be until the management classes and politicians get it into their thick heads that we will not sacfifice anything under any circumstances until or unless they show the way.

Sacrifice some of your big pension pot Mr Manager / Politician and we'll think about it.

Until then touch our terms and conditions and suffer the consequences.

True, innocents suffer them as well - as in garbage collection - but the alternative is to give into bullying management and that's no alternative.

I will now retire from my soap box.

Four Dinners
Deputy Convenor
Unite The Union
London Heathrow Airport

Candy Minx said...

I believe we should publically post all pay and benefit negotiations of managers and non-union workers in the government and cover their negotiations in the news. Let's focus on management benefits way before we focus on the jobs that child care workers, waste management workers negotiate.

Instead of jealousy towards people who take care of children (a totally thankless job of day care and one that should be made an essential service) or jealousy for the benefits of garbage colelctors getting 18 sick days...why not turn that energy towards all emploment culture. We should be elevating all working environments to copy the benefits of City of Toronto...rather than becoming stingy.

The work negotiations and benefits of garbage collectors, teachers, day care workers of having sick days and other benefits should be the ideal for all of us.

Working full time is an exhausting slave mongering curse and all people should be able to raise a family and take sick days. Often the sick days enable parents to stay home with sick children etc.

We could also harness the bitterness towards the ideals of union workers in Toronto to establish a four day work week.

Lets have news stories about management wages and benefits. Then later...we can worry about the poor folks who have to look after our kids and garbage.

Sometimes Canadians forget how valuable our workers benefits, our medical benefits and lifestyle and positive community attitude is compared to other places.

We forget how our community ideals have made Caanda such a great place.

We also forget all work is "essential".

Candy Minx said...

Oh I just commented at the same time as Preacherman...and he said what I was thinking but way better than I could have...

zydeco fish said...

What really amazes me is the speed at which people started to illegal dump garbage. It was an instant reaction. I have a medium sized bin, and can go an entire month (or longer) before it is full. Why do people have so much garbage?

zydeco fish said...

Wait, I just remembered that there are four bin sizes. I have the second smallest one, which holds 2 bags. So, like, not much garbage from me.

mister anchovy said...

It just seems really sad to me that collectively, we can't manage to keep the garbage from piling up on the streets. I'm not interested in whose fault it is. Frankly, to me, Mayor Miller, City Council, Premier McGuinty and the CUPE all have a hand in this.

On some points I agree with Candy's comments. Working full-time can be really difficult and good benefits are an ideal. I'm open to ideas like a four day work week too.

However, as long as we're stuck in the same old union vs managment battles, the garbage will pile up, and to me that's not acceptable.

Dan said...

The newspaper says that David Miller lives close to and passes High Park subway station every day on his way into work.

I would suggest leaving your garbage there at High Park subway station but at the Quebec Avenue entrance just north of Bloor Street West so you don't block the buses leaving from the High Park Avenue exit.

Please spread this around.

mister anchovy said...

Dan, I think your childish little idea is very irresponsible. Look, we have a difficult enough situation with this strike without people dumping garbage at subway stations to make a point to the mayor. I'm certain that Mr. Miller has noticed there is a garbage strike.

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