Unions

The Informer

Columns

4 Comments

Pickup Artists: outsourcing half the garbage collection was brilliant—privatizing the rest would be disastrous

Pickup Artists: outsourcing half the garbage collection was brilliant—privatizing the rest would be disasterous

The map of Toronto’s curbside waste collection operations, which is split into four districts, two east and two west, looks like a Risk board in stalemate. Ever since the privately owned Green for Life Environmental took over the west end in August 2012, leaving unionized workers to handle east-end collection, the city has been waging a quiet war over jobs, turf and public approval.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Politics

5 Comments

Tim Hudak softens his stance on unions

Politicians should be allowed to change their minds from time to time, but there’s something a little strange about today’s Tim Hudak news. After a year and a half of promoting his party’s “right to work” proposal, which if enacted would have ended mandatory union dues by doing away with the Rand formula, the Ontario PC leader unceremoniously killed the idea during a breakfast speech today before the Toronto Region Board of Trade. “If we are elected, we’re not going to do it,” he reportedly told a roomful of Toronto business leaders. The party is pushing another policy that would merely force unions to compete for government contracts, rather than gut their ability to raise funds.

It’s the second reversal for the Tories in two days. Yesterday’s stunner was Doug Ford’s announcement that he won’t be running on the PC ticket in the next provincial election, which is expected to take place in the spring.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Columns

14 Comments

Jan Wong: The province’s shrewd but savage strategy to stick it to Ontario’s teachers

By Jan Wong | Photo Illustration by Bradley Reinhardt

Jan Wong: Strike Out

(Photographs: Demonstrators by Aaron Vincent; Kathleen Wynne by CP Images)

The school year is coming to a close, and not a moment too soon. It’s been an ugly one. Queen’s Park forced new labour contracts onto Ontario’s teacher unions. Teachers fought back by scrubbing extracurriculars for the better part of the year. And many tax-paying parents are incensed that their kids got shafted in the bargain.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Politics

1 Comment

The definitive guide to the supporters and opponents of a Toronto casino

The definitive guide to the supporters and opponents of a Toronto casinoAfter more than a year of debate, Toronto’s still-hypothetical casino will soon face a crucial test. A long-awaited city staff report is in (though, unusually, it’s missing a firm yay-or-nay recommendation), and council could vote as early as next month to either kill the idea forever or invite bids from casino developers. For influential Torontonians hoping to sway the decision, now’s the last chance to come out for or against a downtown gambling den—which explains why so many have spoken up in recent days. Below, a guide to how the pro-casino and anti-casino teams stack up.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Features

3 Comments

Memoir: after five years as a labourer, I learned how hard it is to climb into the middle class

By Mariusz Klapacz | Illustration by Cat Yelizarov

Memoir: CannedI was born in communist Poland and arrived in Canada when I was 12 years old. My parents came for the opportunities, the hope that I might one day get a decent job and build a home and family. By 2001, I was 27 and had spent the past decade in dead-end jobs. I wanted work that I could build a future on, and so I applied at a major grocery chain’s warehouse. They offered me a part-time job at $12 an hour. Thrilled at the idea of working for one of Canada’s most reputable companies, I accepted on the spot.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Features

Comments

The Moment: the Bill 115 dust-up has been as mature as a cafeteria food fight

The Moment: the Bill 115 dust-up has been as mature as a cafeteria food fight

(Image: Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

When a relationship goes sour, both sides tend to behave badly. McGuinty, the self-styled Education Premier, went first: his introduction of Bill 115 in the summer, a preemptive strike against job action, was autocratic and ill-conceived. Ending the boom-era benefit of banked sick days was reasonable; circum­venting contract negotiations and banning strikes was not. The unions went next: they curtailed extracurriculars, which wrought havoc on track meets, holiday concerts and chess clubs, and then opted for rolling one-day walkouts. Along the way, both sides forgot the first thing any two-bit couples therapist will tell you: no matter how bitter the breakup, don’t take it out on the kids.

The Informer

Politics

2 Comments

Reaction Roundup: Premier Dalton McGuinty steps down and adjourns the legislature

(Image: Communitech Photos)

We’ve never really thought of Dalton McGuinty as a big-surprises kind of guy, but Premier Dad shocked the province last night by announcing his resignation as party leader—and the prorogation of the legislature. Today, most of Toronto is speculating about why McGuinty stepped down, and where, politically, the province goes from here. We rounded up the main threads of the discussion, including who might replace him, whether McGuinty has federal leadership aspirations and what Rob Ford thinks about it all.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Politics

7 Comments

Air Canada clears a major hurdle to its plans for an international low-cost airline

Over a year ago, Air Canada made noises about getting into the low-cost holiday-package market, but the proposal was stalled due to a lengthy labour dispute with its pilots. Now, after 19 months of negotiations, sick-ins and wildcat strikes, an arbitrator has ended that stand-off, selecting Air Canada’s final contract offer over that of the Air Canada Pilots Association. Explaining why he sided with the airline, arbitrator Douglas Stanley wrote that “Air Canada needs to establish a low-cost carrier to ensure its competitive future.” (The pilots were opposed to the plan because it could result in non-union members flying planes without consent from the union.) Now that that has been sorted out, how long until we can catch a cheap Air Canada flight to Varadero? [Globe and Mail]

The Informer

Politics

Comments

TTC fares could go up by another 10 cents next year (so start hoarding tokens)

(Image: Nayu Kim)

First, some good news for TTC riders: Karen Stintz has promised to maintain current service levels next year, saying there’s “no appetite” in council or among commuters to axe any lines or reduce service. But, financially, that promise could be hard to keep. Despite raking in a $22-million surplus in 2011 (ridership was way up), and raising fares by 10 cents in 2012, the transit operator may still have trouble covering its bills in 2013. One issue is that TTC surpluses are usually given back to the city. Another is that the TTC will likely need to pay tens of millions of dollars in extra wages: a staff report released yesterday recommended giving non-union managers the same raises and benefits awarded to union workers earlier this month, which would cost the commission $19.4 million in 2013. The budget pressure could, Stintz conceded, translate into another 10-cent fare hike for riders in 2013. [National Post]

The Informer

Politics

3 Comments

Does Rob Ford have some secret ability to charm unions?

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Rob Ford’s administration has avoided any drawn-out work stoppages, which is kind of a shocker for a mayor obsessed with fat-trimming and the like. Last night, Toronto’s 2,300 library workers ended their 11-day strike meaning libraries were a-lending today at 10:30 a.m. Meanwhile, Ford and labour point-man Doug Holyday are boasting about a deal reached with two of CUPE Local 79’s four bargaining units. However, the situation with the rest of the inside workers still isn’t resolved: the city’s long-term care centre workers are heading into arbitration and a strike or lock-out is still a possibility for the city’s part-time recreation centre workers, including lifeguards, yoga instructors and music teachers. Still, Ford predicts they’ll reach an agreement and, against all odds, most of his predictions on the labour file have panned out so far. Read the entire story [Globe and Mail] »

The Informer

Features

5 Comments

Q&A: Mark Ferguson, the trash-talking Buddhist at the head of CUPE Local 416

When he wins, the public hates him. When he loses, his members hate him.

Mark FergusonAs CUPE 416 president, you spent 16 weeks locked in heated negotiations with Team Ford over the new outdoor workers contract. How hostile did it get?
The city’s bargaining team told me they were going to impose their terms of employment if we didn’t reach an agreement. I ended up breaking down in tears, which has happened twice in my career: before the garbage strike in 2009, and now.

You’re a Buddhist. Did that help?
Absolutely. My bargaining committee would be arguing away, and I would lie down in a quiet room and meditate for five or 10 minutes to clear my thoughts.

In an email exchange with an angry union member after the ratification, you called Team Ford “motherfuckers.” That doesn’t sound very Buddhistic.
It was in the heat of the moment, and I apologized. But I don’t apologize for trying to get members worked up about what this administration is doing to the city.

How much time does the job of union president leave for family?
Over the past year, I was home for dinner maybe one night a week. My wife and I broke up about two months ago.

I’m sorry.
Thanks, but it’s for the best. I’ll be spending more time with my two girls.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Politics

Comments

Inside workers union says it won’t strike—but if it does, it’s the city’s fault

Doug Holyday says he wants to get a deal signed with CUPE Local 79 (Image: Christopher Drost)

Showing some PR smarts, CUPE Local 79 is proclaiming that its 23,000 members won’t strike this weekend—unless the city makes them. Even though Toronto’s inside workers voted “overwhelmingly” to approve a strike, union president Tim Maguire promised workers will only walk off the job if the city imposes new contract terms (a neat trick that pushes any blame for work stoppage onto the city). Deputy mayor Doug Holyday fired back, arguing the city wants a deal, but the union is slowing the process down. He told the Globe and Mail, “They have met with us exactly 50 minutes since last Thursday,”—a soundbite that shows what we already knew: Holyday’s got some sharp media skills of his own. Read the entire story [Globe and Mail] »

The Informer

Politics

1 Comment

Does Rob Ford have secret plans to fire half of Toronto’s librarians? Probably not

Librarians may be bad at chanting, but they’re pretty good with alarmist rhetoric, according to the Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee. He’s dubious about library union leader Maureen O’Reilly’s claims that Rob Ford has an “ulterior motive” in his fight to change the union contract—namely, to close libraries and lay off more than half of Toronto’s librarians. Following a line of argumentation that would make Ford proud, Gee argues that the job security enjoyed by library workers is uncommon, even in the public sector, and makes the city unable to adapt to the shifting role of libraries. And while Ford probably thinks we could do with fewer libraries—actually, fewer public workers altogether—last winter’s library budget battle shows he’d have a tough time closing any down. Read the entire story [Globe and Mail] »

The Informer

Politics

Comments

In a dull and anti-climactic finish to labour negotiations, CUPE ratifies a new collective agreement

CUPE Local 416 has approved a new collective agreement with the Rob Ford administration, and the resolution is surprisingly anti-climactic given that everyone—us included—assumed negotiations would end in disaster (or at least piles of stinky garbage everywhere). Rather than the city gutting the collective agreement or CUPE refusing to budge, the city and the union agreed to a six per cent pay increase over four years and weakening the “jobs for life” clause (the job security provision now applies only to workers with 15 years or more experience). Sure, it’s a significant concession from the union, but it’s also far from the fireworks we predicted. It also suggests that Ford and co. believe the way to cut gravy is by outsourcing costs, not simply slashing wages. Considering Ford’s penchant for saving money, we’re inclined to think he made the right move. Of course, he has struggled with math before. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

The Informer

Politics

Comments

City hall and CUPE come to an agreement, avoid a work stoppage and live happily ever after (only not really)

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Following months of public bickering, negotiating through the media and much sabre rattling, the discussions between CUPE Local 416 and the city, which everybody expected to result in a work stoppage, are over. The details of the agreement have yet to be released, but both Doug Holyday and Rob Ford are heralding the deal as a victory for the taxpayer. And given union president Mark Ferguson’s defeatist language in the wake of the all-night bargaining session, it seems that in the end the city did come out on top.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement