That little red area is where we're seeing regional leadership coming from
We're finally starting to see some real leadership coming from Metro Vancouver cities, and it's coming from the North Shore. The City of North Vancouver passed a motion during last week's city council meeting to begin urging other cities to either stay or re-engage in the Metro Vancouver Labour Relations Bureau. The MVLRB is the only tool that allows cities to combine their approach to the collective agreements with the region's powerful CUPE union leadership.
The North Shore News reported comments from North Van's Coun. Rod Clark, who put the motion forward:
The bureau was formed, said Clark, to avoid "whipsawing," where one municipality settles a deal with one of the public sector unions and that deal ratchets up the standard for the next city's negotiations, and so on.
"The trade unions are very well organized," Clark told his colleagues, "and they present a very common front at the negotiation table. . . . Why can't the management side, essentially the municipalities, be that organized?"
CityCaucus.com has done repeated stories about this issue. We described CUPE's investment in Vision Vancouver as money very well spent given the fact that in one of his first acts as city councillor, Geoff Meggs moved to have Vancouver pull itself out of the MVLRB. Meggs used the cost as an excuse in what appeared to be a bald-faced payback to his brothers and sisters in the labour movement. The City didn't consider finding ways of renegotiating those costs, as the North Van council suggests should happen.
Clark said he hadn't gotten a straight answer as to why several of Metro's largest communities were abandoning the bureau, although he suspects that the costs -- Vancouver pays roughly $800,000 to participate -- are likely driving them away. A new cost structure might be needed to stop the bleeding, he said.
Rod Clark isn't naive. He probably realizes that it is the influence of unions which has cities pulling back from the MVLRB. The collective agreements settled in 2007 around the region will likely begin bargaining in 2011, in the months prior to the November municipal elections. It's unlikely given the chaotic nature of election time that the issue of union collective agreements will become campaign issues.
What will happen in 2012, though, is that CUPE will now have Metro cities over a barrell, especially after Vancouver's abandonment of the MVLRB. And we can thank Vision Vancouver for that inevitable region-wide property tax spike that will ensue.
Vancouver area voters and the NPA should voice their support for the real leadership we're seeing from the City of North Vancouver. Kudos to Councillor Clark and Mayor Darrell Mussatto for speaking up.
- post by Mike