Strikes can prove fatal to mayoral careers, says Toronto Star

Post by Mike Klassen in

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Now that they're back at work, a City of Toronto employee puts the final nail in Mayor Miller's political coffin

Now that Hogtown's civic strike is over, the post-game analysis has begun. Our very own Daniel Fontaine, co-editor of CityCaucus.com, was contacted yesterday by the Toronto Star regarding a feature story that Petti Fong wrote in today's weekend edition.

Fung analyzes how a CUPE strike can become the final nail in a mayor's political coffin if not properly handled:

Garbage strikes can kill. Political careers, that is.

Just ask former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, who saw his popularity plummet during a three-month city strike in 2007.

By the time that strike was resolved in Vancouver, Sullivan was toast.

Windsor's mayor just finished handling a 15 week strike in his community, however, he seems to have managed okay. When CUPE started running ads telling the public to phone the mayor and let him know what they thought of his bargaining tactics, he was overwhelmed with supportive calls. The ad campaign backfired as it was taking place during one of the worst recessions to hit the City of Windsor in its history. According to the Star:

Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis was prepared to deal with angry residents as the recent 101-day municipal strike in his city dragged on. But Francis said Windsor residents supported his stance that the city had to dump lifetime retiree benefits for its employees.

Here's what Fontaine told the Star when asked if there were any similarities between the Vancouver and Toronto CUPE strikes:

Daniel Fontaine, Sullivan's chief of staff, said Toronto's unions never targeted Mayor David Miller in the same way. "The economy was very hot in 2007, jobs were plentiful and Sam stayed firm," he said yesterday. "Miller's political backers come from the labour movement but in Vancouver, clearly the unions would have loved to see Sam gone."

As for the reaction from Vancouver's CUPE union, Paul Faoro said:

The strike was probably one of the final nails in Sam Sullivan's government, but it was the entire government in place then that we had a problem with.

As for Toronto's mayor, he now faces an election within the next 12 months. It will be interesting to see if his mishandling of this strike will have any long-lasting impact.

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