Schism in Toronto CUPE strike: Summer workers start petition to get legislated back to work

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Sineed
Schism in Toronto CUPE strike: Summer workers start petition to get legislated back to work

Quote:
To:  The Hon. Dalton McGuinty, the Hon. Peter Fonseca

Dear sirs 

We, the Undersigned, comprise students employed as lifeguards, day camp counselors, wading pool attendants and other seasonal workers in the city of Toronto this summer. 

At the time of this petition’s drafting, a strike initiated by CUPE Local 79, a union representing 24,000 ‘inside workers’ including all City of Toronto seasonal staff, has so far lasted 11 days with no end in sight. The strike has so far caused each of us to forfeit hundreds of dollars in lost wages and, if recent bleak comments from top city bureaucrats are to be believed, we may very well lose thousands of dollars more before the strike is settled. 

For many citizens of Toronto the strike is an inconvenience, forcing them to haul their own garbage to designated drop-offs and creating an unpleasant smell you have likely noticed at Queen’s Park. For us, however, the strike is having a devastating impact, costing us some of the most important wages we will earn all year. 

Every summer, countless young people depend on seasonal employment with the City of Toronto as a means of paying for university tuition, which has soared in recent years and now costs, on average, $5,000. Others work for the City to subsidize post-graduate studies and professional education, or to pay back student loans. In short, we depend on these jobs for our future. 

We have been forced from our jobs by a strike over matters that have nothing to do with us. We are expected to sit idly by while our employer and our union use us as pawns in a political game. This is unacceptable. 

The Government of Ontario has the power to legislate us back to work. Every day this strike continues, the possibility that many of us will be unable to afford our education for the coming year becomes more likely. In an economic climate this bleak, it is impossible for even half of us to simply find summer employment elsewhere. We believe everybody should be entitled to fair treatment from employers, but the unwillingness to negotiate on the part of both CUPE Local 79 and the City of Toronto is slowly costing us our future. 

We, the Undersigned, representing thousands of Ontario students who now face the possibility of being unable able to afford post-secondary education, ask you to consider our future and the future of this province, and to legislate the members of CUPE Local 79 back to work immediately.

No response from CUPE or the employer so far...

 

Sineed

Whoops, I forgot to add the link: http://www.petitiononline.com/cupe79/petition.html

Unionist

Whichever scum started this petition should be sent back to kindergarten and be taught the meaning of the word "society" - then they can move on to the word "freedom". They are not worthy to be part of a society yet. I truly hope their "higher" education is aborted before they do any real damage.

Michelle

That "scum" is probably some 17 year old kid who's a day camp counsellor and probably doesn't know the first thing about unions or solidarity. I think this is a case where education is called for, stat.  When a large portion of your membership are part-time, seasonal kids, you've got to do some major education on the basics.

Like telling them that, in fact, they probably CAN find part-time minimum wage jobs for the rest of the summer (which is what they should be doing instead of undermining their union), but that the reason their jobs pay more than that is because their union FIGHTS for those wages.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Not to mention that summer jobs for students amount to supplemantary income to whatever it is they are using to get through the school year. Never mind the wages of CUPE workers who are also trying to put their kids through school.

Unionist

Maybe the 17-year-old should start a petition for parents to be shot so they can collect death and dismemberment insurance to finance their education.

My real problem is with Sineed, for opening a thread to notify us of this toxic waste - and doing so in "labour and consumption". I demand that this thread be closed.

 

Stargazer

It's been a horrible day of union bashing (just have a look at Mayor Miller's Facebook).

Sineed

Unionist wrote:

Maybe the 17-year-old should start a petition for parents to be shot so they can collect death and dismemberment insurance to finance their education.

My real problem is with Sineed, for opening a thread to notify us of this toxic waste - and doing so in "labour and consumption". I demand that this thread be closed.

 

Dude - we've been talking about this strike on a couple of threads over here.  And Michelle started that other thread about union-bashing.  This development is pertinent and interesting to babblers.

What I'm wondering is, how do you respond to this (I mean, other than how you've already responded)?  This kid is getting some attention with this petition, and there are people who admire his initiative.

I have found the input of babblers to sometimes come in handy when arguing with folks.

Tommy_Paine

 

I can actually sympathize with the students who have probably arranged these jobs well ahead of time, and would have to really struggle to find something else at this point. 

However, the same students should be even more upset with McGinty for watching the manufacturing sector dissapear.  This sector used to employ, at tremendously good wages, summer employment for tens of thousands of students across Ontario.

A strike that will, come what may, last a couple of weeks pales in comparasson to the loss of summer employment opportunity in manufacturing for students, so if they want to get their knickers in a knot about something, that should be it.

 

Unionist

Sineed wrote:

 

Dude - we've been talking about this strike on a couple of threads over here. 

Back-to-work legislation? Taking away workers' freedom? Show me where that has been discussed, please. I must have missed it. You just initiated that discussion. It's one thing to say workers are greedy and stupid (expression of free opinion) - it's another thing to call for their Charter rights to be crushed. Make the distinction, please.

Quote:
What I'm wondering is, how do you respond to this (I mean, other than how you've already responded)?

Same way I would respond to a petition by a 17-year-old male saying that women should be excluded from the workforce and be required to cook and reproduce. With utter contempt. This is the 21st century.

Quote:
This kid is getting some attention with this petition, and there are people who admire his initiative.

What's your definition of "people"?

Quote:
I have found the input of babblers to sometimes come in handy when arguing with folks.

Good. Tell them the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that free collective bargaining is protected by the Charter. Tell them that if they want to live in Iran or Colombia or some U.S. states, where trade unionists spend lots of time in jail or getting lynched, they should pack and leave before freedom of movement is banned after some other "petition". Tell them that workers' rights to withdraw labour do not take a lower rung to the right of this punk to freely express its opinion, or the rights of women to be equal, or the rights of people of colour to not be discriminated against, or the rights of people to freedom of conscience. Tell them that they can dress up the words "slave labour" into whatever fancy-ass terms they have been taught by their lecturers in school, but the ugly stinking face of slavery shines through the "Dear Sirs" and the oh-so-polite turns of phrase.

Or, you can translate the above into more polite language. I can't find the diplomatic words just at the moment.

remind remind's picture

*hands clapping* unionist!

Global national  out here had a whole segment on TO's strike and the "poor" students being deprived of their summer jobs, and those "poor" TO Islanders who have no ferry service. It really was just a union bashing segment and not a news piece at all.

Doug

I certainly empathize with summer students who suddenly don't have summer employment because of the strike and don't see any immediate prospect of starting work again. However, this isn't going to shorten the length of the strike.

spatrioter

I find this the most hilarious part of the letter:

Quote:
We, the Undersigned, representing thousands of Ontario students who now face the possibility of being unable able to afford post-secondary education, ask you to consider our future and the future of this province, and to legislate the members of CUPE Local 79 back to work immediately.

If they're concerned about being unable to afford post-secondary education, why don't they ask McGuinty to stop hiking tuition fees?

Unionist

If the self-important ass who drafted this pathetic whining petition had any scruples, it might have said something along these lines:

Quote:
By working side by side with the year-round workers, we have begun to learn the meaning of solidarity. They work to serve society as well as to support themselves, their families, and their needs and dreams for the future. We do exactly the same thing. Their issues are our issues. You play a dual role. As an employer, you oversee the services we provide through our labour. As government, you are answerable to the people (i.e. to us) for the services we provide, as well as for everyone's wellbeing and future (including us). We therefore call upon you to remove the underlying cause of this strike by removing your demands that we abandon conditions earned by us and our colleagues in the past. If, as you appear to claim, society is living beyond its means, then go knock on the door of those who have means. We demand that you put an end to this dispute immediately without legislation or other draconian methods, but by free and respectful collective bargaining.

Anyway, they could draft it better than that.

 

Self_important_ass

Hi, I'm the self-interested scum that many of you are referring to. Just thought I'd come here and clear some stuff up. 

First of all, any university student in this province who follows the news has at least one bone to pick with McGuinty. After all, it was his administration that lifted the freeze on tuition fees and sent them soaring up in the first place.

As for freedom and a worker's right to strike, I personally agree with you on that. I think workers should be allowed agency, especially in the face of unfair treatment from employers. It's shameful and irresponsible for any employer to tell some of its employees they aren't entitled to the same treatment as others just because they're last in line. 

But in a union of 24,000 representing a diverse range of jobs, you have to respect that people aren't going to see eye-to-eye on everything, especially when some of them see no immediate gains for themselves at the end of this strike. I'm not saying they're right or wrong, but using rhetoric like 'solidarity' and 'brothers and sisters,' and evoking imagery of workers united, arm-in-arm fighting against tyrannical employers doesn't work for people whose only frame of reference to these things is in a history textbook. 

That's why there's a petition pushing back-to-work legislation. I'd love to the see the City and the union reach an agreement, but right now they don't seem to be anywhere close to that. For a lot of us summer workers, we have only eight weeks of full-time employment with the City before we go back to school. The strike in Windsor has already lasted three weeks longer than that. If this strike is resolved in September or even late August, it'll be a hard fought victory for City workers. But for us summer employees, we'll get nothing. No benefits, no wages. And despite the easy stereotype, many summer workers aren't spoiled, wealthy kids whose parents pay for everything.

By the way, we've also started a letter-writing campaign to our mayor and city councillors to get them off their asses and pushing for a fair end to this strike, and I encourage everyone to let their elected officials know they disapprove of the City's arrogance during this strike. 

We're not strike bashers or anti-union activists, we're a group of like-minded people who love their jobs and want to get back to work and on with their lives. I would be surprised to find a single union member who would rather walk the picket line than return to work. And in a case such as this where the employer's behaviour is so clearly out of order, surely any reasonable arbitrator would give the employees a fair deal.

After reading so many ill-informed and downright stupid anti-strike comments on other websites (my favourite was one that suggested we all be fired and replaced with robots), I always assumed the union crowd to be more intelligent, unwilling to consider an issue as multi-faceted as a city-wide strike with a two-dimensional, 'you're either with us or against us' mentality.

Oops.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Well, it's true that part-timers, term employees, and such, often get the short end of the stick. But wouldn't you agree that the interests of those who will be staying for the long haul should take precedence?

city_worker

Hey Brendan,

While I agree with you whole heartedly that it sucks that the PT workers are not making money they need, neither are the FT workers who have families and mortgages.

A few points....you knew when you started working that you were joining a union; you knew 4 years ago when the last contract became effective that we could be in this situation this year; the unions usually choose to strike at a time when it has an effect - 7 years ago, the strike was in the same time frame and pools were closed.

Are you aware that one of the major issues with this negotiation is PT Wage Harmonization?  Are you even aware that PT wages are STILL according to the pay scale from the former city?  That someone doing the same job as you do in another district is making as much as $3.50 LESS an hour than you are making?  Not to mention in your own district there are 4 different pay scales being used.

SO - there will be a benefit to you and other PT workers in these negotiations.  I don't really believe that anyone wins in a strike situation, it will take us all a VERY long time to be ahead any money, however, this is the reality of being in a union.  If you don't like it, find a job that pays you minimum wage - that is likely all you would get.  You make close to $14 an hour to get a great tan and sit on your butt most of the summer. 

Unionist

N.Beltov wrote:

Well, it's true that part-timers, term employees, and such, often get the short end of the stick. But wouldn't you agree that the interests of those who will be staying for the long haul should take precedence?

I see you've adopted Michelle's approach and are trying to use "education" and "persuasion" with some glib-talking character who calls for a legislated end to workers' right to strike. Good luck to you.

 

oldgoat

Self_important_ass.  I'm going to direct your attention the Babble Policy Statement which you agreed to when you registered.  Specifically, this part:

 

Quote:
In defining itself as "progressive," rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist and pro-labour stance. Discussion which develops and expands progressive thought is encouraged and welcome.

babble is NOT intended as a place where the basic and essential values of human rights, feminism, anti-racism, and labour rights are to be debated or refought. Members that join babble who indicate intentions to challenge these rights and principles may be seen as disruptive to the nature of the forum. Such members may be warned, have their accounts suspended, or banned altogether.

 

In terms of labour rights, what you are proposing is simply anathema. I accept that you probably do not know a great deal about labour issues in any global or historic sense, and give you a modest benifit of the doubt by not suspending your account immediatly. However, you will not propose and defend back to work legislation here, and especially on this forum, or you account will be suspended. There's a lot of collective wisdom here when it comes to this issue, and you may be well advised to read rather than post for a while.

 

remind remind's picture

Thank you old goat for actually clearing things up.

Unionist

His first post:

Self-important ass wrote:
As for freedom and a worker's right to strike, I personally agree with you on that.

His last post:

Self-important ass wrote:
I personally support back-to-work legislation and binding arbitration because it will bring a quick end to the strike and because I think the workers will end up getting a fair deal out of it.

I wonder what's next?

 

Self_important_ass

N.Beltov, the Facebook group 'Rec workers for ending the strike' and the petition that stemmed from that is not in support of, or against, any of the union's grounds for striking. Whether the strike is legitimate or not (some of us think it is, some think it isn't), it has been going on now for almost two weeks and it needs to end.

On a side note, if your customized status is a reference to the The Prisoner, that's awesome.

city_worker: I know about the wage harmonization issue, and I know how hard a strike is on everyone, especially people supporting a family. The union has been very good to me, and has helped make my summer job safe, secure and well-paid. We're not speaking out against the union, just pushing for an end to the strike. 

remind remind's picture

meanwhile Miller says "it is all about the children"

Quote:
When the speeches were done, reporters peppered Miller with questions about everything but the building. They hammered him on the municipal workers' strike. Where has Miller been? Why won't he push councillors to give up their pay raise when the city won't give the strikers an increase?

Facing a phalanx of television cameras, Miller thanked the people of Toronto for their patience and said he wanted to focus on the children, especially underprivileged children, who were losing the chance to swim in city pools and join in city camps.

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/662556

cmkl

CUPE strike pay is $200 per week - same for part time as for full time workers. No deductions. Tax free. Take home pay for part time work (say 20 hours at $22 per hour) is around $290.

Just sayin.

cmkl

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

cmkl wrote:

CUPE strike pay is $200 per week - same for part time as for full time workers. No deductions. Tax free. Take home pay for part time work (say 20 hours at $22 per hour) is around $290.

Just sayin.

Well worth sayin', though. It's a great point that really puts this petition in perspective.

Michelle

Thanks for posting that, cmkl.  I had no idea.  That makes this petition particularly egregious, doesn't it?

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Don't you have to do picket duty to get strike pay?

Maybe the part-timers just don't wanna walk the line?

Michelle

Yup.  It's either show up at the picket line, or show up at the pool (or day camp or whatever).  Seems to me if you're going to get paid almost as much for walking the line, then maybe their time would be better spent holding a sign at the picket line than making petitions online that undermine the union side.

Unionist

I'm quite sure the Self-Important Ass has given up his strike pay to lead by example and demonstrate his personal integrity. Mind you, perhaps I'm being too harsh on the future business leaders of our society.

Stargazer

Saw some of those students down at Nathan Philips Square today, picketing CUPE workers and demanding they are legislated back to work. I have no pity for them. These students are making jack squat and I'm having a real hard time trying to figure out why they just don't join in with CUPE strikers or get another job that pays the same or better wages.

 

 

remind remind's picture

Maybe they are getting paid rto picket CUPE?

Stargazer

Never thought of that but that could be a real possibility. A very real possibility.

remind remind's picture

Well why wouldn't they be picketing in solidarity and collecting their strike pay?

Stargazer

Supposedly they are the students who work on the ferrys to Ward Island. I'm not sure what their status is re: union or not.

 

Given the shiftiness of the government, I wouldn't put it past any one to plant those students in the middle of downtown TO to stir up sympathy and anti-union sentiments.

Unionist

Hmmm... picketers demanding that workers' rights be crushed. Are you involved in that, Self-Important Asshole? Where is that distinguished young leader when we need some answers??

 

Doug

It must be Opposite Day. I'm agreeing with what someone from the CD Howe Institute and someone from McGill's business school have to say.

If the unions that represent inside and outside municipal workers and the city cannot come to terms within a few weeks, the province will be under political - not to mention health-related - pressure to order an end to the strike. With the stroke of a pen, the province could do so by way of back-to-work legislation.
However satisfying that might seem in the short term, back-to-work legislation would merely postpone confronting the core disputes that need resolving. The benefits of clean streets and open swimming pools are apparent; the long-term consequences of back-to-work legislation are not.
http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/661812

Le T Le T's picture

This brings light on something that has long bothered me: middle-class "students" who work part-time and summer jobs. These kids will often work for shit wages or as in the case of Self Important Asshole undermine their union because THEY DONT REALLY NEED THE MONEY! So many students take poverty vacations and "slum it" while in school for some kind of character building exercise and then go on to become bankers and managers (as Unionist alluded to). I think that it is a deliberate attempt to undermine the working class and wage system - same as manufactured unemployment.

And S.I.A, you make me sick you fucking coward. Show some respect.

Sineed

Le T wrote:

This brings light on something that has long bothered me: middle-class "students" who work part-time and summer jobs. These kids will often work for shit wages or as in the case of Self Important Asshole undermine their union because THEY DONT REALLY NEED THE MONEY! So many students take poverty vacations and "slum it" while in school for some kind of character building exercise and then go on to become bankers and managers (as Unionist alluded to). I think that it is a deliberate attempt to undermine the working class and wage system - same as manufactured unemployment.

 

Generalize much?  When I went to U of T there were the rich kids like you say, but many of us were working to pay our tuition because our families couldn't support us.  I didn't scrub toilets for fun, or to "slum it."  Many of my classmates were the same.

The people who don't need the money are a tiny minority.

That said, how do folks feel about my having started this thread?  Unionist was cranky about it, but I'm kinda pleased we managed to engage the guy who started that petition - I was hoping that would happen.  Maybe he got something to think about.

Unionist

I forgive you, Sineed. Innocent

But tell me what you learned from "engaging" this guy.

 

Caissa

My first summer job (81-86) was in an unionized environment where we paid union dues but were prohibited from being union members. That somehow felt unjust at the time but the continuing employees had a bigger stake in their union local. As a staring wage, I made over 200% of the NB minimum wage and received wage premiums for other jobs (ex. jackhammering, painting).  This experience meant that when I went to Carleton in Fall 1986 and the TA union was in negotiations with a strike mandate I immediately became active in my local. I even became local president for a brief period of time in 1987 until I went to the bastion of conservatism UWO for Doctoral studies. Summer jobs at unionized locations can be good training grounds for future union activity. As I sit here, I realize I havent't belonged to a union for 22 years. Tells us a bit about the state of working in the pse sector.

Michelle

I would have a HUGE problem with paying union dues but being prohibited from being a union member.  Are you sure that's the way it was?  I can't imagine how that could be...?

Caissa

Yes, it was the case. There was a minimum period of time one neeeded to be employed in order to become a member of the union (6 months I believe) and I never worked more than 4 consecutive months as a summer student. My father who was president of another union local on the waterfront used to get an earful from me about this subject.

Unionist

I'm surprised too, Caissa, although I don't know which province it was and whether the appropriate labour law has been changed since. Here is what the Canada Labour Code says, very clearly and strictly, on this subject, in Section 25(2):

Quote:
Notwithstanding anything in this Part, where the Board is satisfied that a trade union denies membership in the trade union to any employee or class of employees in a bargaining unit by virtue of a policy or practice that the trade union applies relating to qualifications for membership in the trade union, the Board shall not certify the trade union as the bargaining agent for the bargaining unit and any collective agreement between the trade union and the employer of the employees in the bargaining unit that applies to the bargaining unit shall be deemed not to be a collective agreement for the purposes of this Part.

Caissa

Interesting. NB, PSAC local. (1981-86) We were not allowed to participate in union meetings or take part in any other decision making processes. If we were granted full rights, and if my memory serves me correctly, we would have constituted 50% of the membership in my first couple of years. 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

My first summer job just prior to entering college (and I had consecutive summer jobs since grade 6) was in 1969 driving a big truck for Ottawa Neighborhood Services delivering unwanted castoff donations (damaged furniture, clothing etc) to the dump. Wasn't a union job, and I desperately needed the money to survive the first year of college. My dad had been hospitalized with terminal cancer two years prior, and died the next year, and his disability pension apparently didn't amount to much, just enough for my mom to get by. I had just left home at the end of high school and was fending for myself, and was barely getting by. I didn't know *anyone* entering college or university back then who had parents who could afford to pay their kid's college or university education without those kids also earning money in summer jobs. My impression here on the coast is that things haven't changed much - every college and university student here on the coast has no choice but to earn a shitload of money during the summer months to be able to afford to stay in school.

Unionist

I remember in the bad old days trades apprentices not being allowed full membership or full rights in various international craft unions. But to your point, we can't have radical young whippersnappers constituting the majority, now, can we? Laughing

ETA: If you were in PSAC, I'm guessing you worked for the federal govt? In which case, you would have been covered by the Public Service Staff Relations Act, which until it was replaced by the PSLRA in 2004 or so, used to read like this (Section 40(3)):

Quote:
(3) The Board shall not certify as bargaining agent for a bargaining unit any employee organization that discriminates against any employee because of sex, race, national origin, colour or religion.

... Which might be taken to imply that discrimination on other grounds (age, length of service, etc.) was ok!!

Meanwhile, Section 66(2) of the new act is a slight improvement - it would prohibit age discrimination, but not service:

Quote:
(2) The Board may not certify an employee organization as a bargaining agent if it discriminates against any employee on a prohibited ground of discrimination within the meaning of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Anyway, rights of public service employees have always been more in the nature of privileges which can be removed at the whim of Her Majesty, and trade unionist spirit has sometimes been slow in growing.

Does this mean we've exhausted the thread topic here? Where is that young man who supported/opposed the right to strike?

Caissa

Unionist wrote: If you were in PSAC, I'm guessing you worked for the federal govt?

 

Yes, National Harbours Board and then Ports Canada.

writer writer's picture

The city's offer is now public: http://www.toronto.ca/offer/index.htm

Even keel

I think you all acted as bullies in this thread.  Calling people assholes, ad hominem attacks, and pulling up the babble policy as a subtle threat to stop someone's questioning do nothing to help further the progressive cause.  Both the initial poster and the author of this petition consider themselves progressive and show an interest in learning more - but you all jumped on them like they were Stephen Harper's biggest champions.

Although I am not a regular babbler, I like many others read these posts and have learned a lot from them, often changing my views based on the great ideas put forward.  Not everyone is born with a perfect knowledge of labour rights, and this should be a safe(r) place to bring up these issues and have them debated. 

If this is the kind of communicative tone the labour rights movement intends to have in Canada -- then I predict a poor future for it. Solidarity my ass.

Stop this toxicity -- practice what you preach.

Sineed

Unionist wrote:

I forgive you, Sineed. Innocent

But tell me what you learned from "engaging" this guy.

 

More like, what he learned from us  Cool

Sineed

Even keel wrote:

I think you all acted as bullies in this thread.  Calling people assholes, ad hominem attacks, and pulling up the babble policy as a subtle threat to stop someone's questioning do nothing to help further the progressive cause.  Both the initial poster and the author of this petition consider themselves progressive and show an interest in learning more - but you all jumped on them like they were Stephen Harper's biggest champions.

Although I am not a regular babbler, I like many others read these posts and have learned a lot from them, often changing my views based on the great ideas put forward.  Not everyone is born with a perfect knowledge of labour rights, and this should be a safe(r) place to bring up these issues and have them debated. 

If this is the kind of communicative tone the labour rights movement intends to have in Canada -- then I predict a poor future for it. Solidarity my ass.

Stop this toxicity -- practice what you preach.

Sometimes when people feel passionate about something, they can forget to err on the side of tact.

I haven't said too much in this thread, other than starting it, but I think what I'd say is if you're a summer student and there's a labour dispute, you need to keep in mind that you're only around for a couple of months, while the full-timers may be there until retirement, and pension issues, long-term or short-term disability plans, benefits, and other things that would be totally irrelevant to a summer student constitute part of the livelihood of the permanent staff.  And you have to acknowledge and respect that.

And failing to acknowledge and respect that, whilst trying to undermine the efforts of the permanent staff to protect their livelihood is going to piss people off.

Anyway, CUPE locals 416 and 79 are going to be formally responding to the offer made yesterday, perhaps by the end of today.  I'm aquiver with suspense...

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