Not as catchy as "Sam's Strike" but what the heck
It looks like the City of Toronto may soon be behind picket lines as discussions between management and the unions is heating up. There is already talk from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) about how a labour disruption will impact garbage pickup, road work and park maintenance.
As most people know, Mayor David Miller is a big supporter of CUPE and vice versa. It will be interesting to see how Miller will handle the CUPE machine as it comes into town asking for higher wages and improved working conditions in the midst of the worst recession southern Ontario has seen in a decades.
I can't help but thinking what would happen if CUPE decided to do to a left-wing mayor, what they did to a "right-wing" mayor in Vancouver. In the summer of 2007, CUPE's leadership decided to go on strike and head out on a very lengthy labour dispute. CUPE successfully named it "Sam's Strike" in honour of his former Worship Sam Sullivan. The CUPE local in Vancouver was the only one in Metro Vancouver that decided to go on strike. In the end, they ended up with the same collective agreement as all the other locals in the region.
Somehow I doubt CUPE's strike placards, which are being printed up as we speak, are going to read "Dave's Dispute". However, if Torontonians want to end the strike quickly, perhaps it's a term they may want to begin using themselves? Just look at how successful CUPE's "Sam's Strike" campaign was at taking down the former mayor.
There are about
6000 24,000 employees that could walk off the job in "Dave's Dispute" on June 22nd. The union claims the main issues relate to seniority and sick leave. It's hard to fathom how the current economic situation in Toronto will result in them getting a lot of sympathy from local property taxpayers. That is, unless they can replicate their masterful public relations strategy of having the mayor wear the dispute as they did in Vancouver. However in 2007, Vancouver's local economy was overheating, not in free fall.
The last strike to hit Toronto was in 2002 when 10 councillors, including David Miller, decided they didn't want to be scabs and refused to cross the union's picket line. There is no word yet whether Mayor, not councillor, David Miller would be prepared repeat his actions.
Here is what Mark Ferguson, CUPE local 416 president, told the National Post:
We hoped the city would get serious about achieving a deal with us and they would take concessions off the table. So far that has not happened.
In response, the city issued this statement:
In the event of a labour disruption, the City of Toronto will implement a contingency plan to ensure that critical services continue. The plan will be widely communicated immediately before any labour disruption. The TTC, Police and Fire Services and the City's Long Term Care Homes & Services (Homes for the Aged) and Toronto Community Housing properties would not be affected. In addition, the City and unions have agreements for maintaining essential Emergency Medical Services (Ambulance).
You can expect that a civic strike in Toronto will get national media attention. I somehow have a feeling that Toronto's labour friendly mayor is not about to let this become "Dave's Dispute" anytime soon.