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

Sineed
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Joined: Dec 4 2005

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...

 


Comments

Sineed
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Joined: Dec 4 2005

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


Unionist
Online
Joined: Dec 11 2005

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
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Joined: May 10 2001

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
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Joined: Dec 23 2003

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
Online
Joined: Dec 11 2005

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
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Joined: Jun 9 2004

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


Sineed
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Joined: Dec 4 2005

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
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Joined: Apr 22 2001

 

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
Online
Joined: Dec 11 2005

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
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Joined: Jun 25 2004

*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
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Joined: Apr 17 2001

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
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Joined: Mar 4 2002

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
Online
Joined: Dec 11 2005

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
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Joined: Jul 4 2009

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
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Joined: May 25 2003

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
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Joined: Jul 4 2009

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. 


Self_important_ass
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Joined: Jul 4 2009

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. 


Unionist
Online
Joined: Dec 11 2005

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
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Joined: Jul 27 2001

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
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Joined: Jun 25 2004

Thank you old goat for actually clearing things up.


Unionist
Online
Joined: Dec 11 2005

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?

 


remind
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Joined: Jun 25 2004

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
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Joined: Jan 16 2002

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
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Joined: Aug 27 2001

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
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Joined: May 10 2001

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


M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005

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

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


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

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
Online
Joined: Dec 11 2005
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
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Joined: Jun 9 2004

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
Offline
Joined: Jun 25 2004

Maybe they are getting paid rto picket CUPE?


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