I belong to a public sector Union. It isn’t a huge Union, not the scale of PSAC, PIPSC, CUPE and the like. There are around 12,000 members, I think; the majority of whom work in one department. I, and for a great many of my colleagues, think that our Union should deliver two basic services. These are:
- to represent the members in the collective bargaining process
- to assist members when there is an issue or a conflict with the employer
That’s it in our particular case. If the membership of another union consents to the use of dues for other purposes, then that’s their business.
Any other activities like supporting social or activist causes or political parties are not what my dues are to be directed toward. And our little Union has filled those basic roles, and only those roles, quite well over the 18 years I’ve been in the PS. And our Local (for non-Union types, it’s kind of like a local chapter) leadership has by and large supported those limited roles, and has done a damn fine job in the process AND dues have been kept reasonable.
I also don’t believe in the point of a PS union withholding their services – especially in the form of full-on and long term strikes – in case of bargaining or other impasses. Strike actions of any kind in the PS lead nowhere. Any government can simply legislate the workers back to work. There is zero public sympathy for such actions. There are public sector exceptions as teachers and health workers do traditionally have the support of a segment of the population. But at the federal level, face it, no one gives a crap whether or not bureaucrats are on picket lines.
So, when all of the members received this email in January, I and others became more than a little concerned:
Dear CAPE member,
Due to the 2013 changes to the Public Service Labour Relations Act which governs federal public service labour relations (Bill C-4), CAPE can no longer use third party arbitration to resolve an impasse at the bargaining table without the agreement of Treasury Board. Accordingly, the current round of negotiations with the employer over the fate of important matters, including sick leave, performance management, telework,pay and job security may force CAPE to conduct a strike vote for the EC bargaining unit or TR bargaining unit.
If a strike vote occurs, and a majority of members of CAPE vote ‘Yes’, that does not automatically mean there will be a strike. A positive strike vote is used by union negotiators to impress upon the employer that the union’s position at the bargaining table is supported by the membership. In addition, ‘strikes’ can take many forms (e.g., work-to-rule campaigns, single-day demonstration strikes, rotating strikes, all-out strikes).
Anticipating the possibility of a strike vote, CAPE would like to learn more about your views on this subject in order to assist in our planning. Please take a few minutes to answer the following questions.
Participation in this survey is voluntary, your anonymity will be respected and all responses will be kept strictly confidential. Questions are asked for statistical purposes only and will not be used to identify respondents.
Let’s put aside the fact that this “survey” was designed in such a poor way that any data obtained through the instrument would be misleading and, quite frankly, useless. But that’s another discussion…
Back to the email… I am very confident that the vast majority of my colleagues were also somewhat shocked to see the word “strike”. This has never been remotely considered in my years in the PS. Our members are intelligent and can do the math. There is not way that the salary lost through a strike will ever be regained through any cost-of-living or scale increases.
So why the sudden militancy in the leadership of the union?
#1. Rightly or wrongly, the culture of our little association has been one of disinterest in Union activites. as long as dues increases were kept to a minimum, very few members paid attention to union elections or communications. Well, that apathy bit us on the butt this time when a very militant, pro merge-with-PSAC/PIPSC slate was elected last year – with about a 10% voter turnout (I think). The new militant president was elected with a plurality of about… 20 votes.
Now democracy is democracy, sure. And the membership got its cumuppance by ignoring the elections. But does this leadership have a mandate to radically change the course of the union – and its members – with such a weak mandate? My opinion is that they do not.
Reason for militancy #2- the CPC Government has proposed a very new and trimmed back sick day system for the PS. Many of us believe that reform was long overdue. We may not agree with the proposed new rules, but again, the Government has a majority in Parliament and can simply cram through the legislation and bang! The new rules are in place.
So, why does CAPE get all huffy and puffy now and not wait until the election in the Fall when a new party may be elected to power and may be amore amenable to any input the labour unions may have on sick days reform? This is something that has a lot of us scratching our heads. It’s not like we lose anything by waiting.
Why do I write this? On one level it’s cathartic (as many of my posts are) but I’m also hoping that more than a few members of our Union see it and wake up to the fact that unless they start paying attention, they’ll be on a strike line and will be explaining to their bank why they have to miss a mortgage payment or two… and the negative image of our Public Service – which has been promoted by the current Government – will be further cemented in the minds of Canadians. Because, you see, as much as the union executive says that in the absence of arbitration (which the Government has taken away as an opition at the bargaining table), non-binding conciliation and a subsequent strike are NOT what they want – it very much IS exactly what they see as the end game. (117)
trashee @ March 24, 2015
Now, not only are Canadians being told that there are terrorists around every corner, but armed criminals are just waiting for us at our country homes and cottages.
Scary country, Harper’s Canada!
Harper’s comments are being promoted by the Conservatives’ election campaign manager, who says she is “proud” of how Harper said gun ownership is “important for safety for those of us who live a ways from immediate police assistance.”
It’s hard to recall another time when we have witnessed such a flame-throwing approach to politics, policy and Parliament. Too often, the governing party resembles a band of belligerents rather than sage public servants. How many fights do they want to pick? Are they not concerned about the impact on the country’s social fabric, the dangers of pitting one Canadian against another?
Provocations at home have also been coupled with provocations abroad. Last week, James Bezan, parliamentary secretary to Defence Minister Jason Kenney, raised the ante with Russia, claiming that our navy was “confronted” by Russian warships and “buzzed” by fighter jets in the Black Sea.
How support for the ReformCons remains at the level it is at is beyond me. I really believed that Canadians would see through the politics of hate and cynicism… but maybe I’m wrong.
One hope – Duffy. The other – Justin Trudeau.
trashee @ March 17, 2015
Turns out the show’s producers “invented” a natural children’s remedy claiming to help bring down fevers. They submitted an application to have this approved by Health Canada. No scientific testing. No quantitative evidence whatsoever that it actually worked. And all totally bogus.
And guess what? It was approved!
Turns out that theses homeopathic or natural remedies don’t actually have to provide any evidence of efficacity at all! Just fill in some forms, photocopy this and that, and there ya go!
I’ve always been suspicious of these products and it turns out that I may have been correct.
I wonder if the anti-vaxers believe that toadstools and garlic will keep polio away :).
trashee @ March 14, 2015
1. Publicly state that evolution should not be taught in schools…
2. Tweet to the world that evolution should not be considered a “fact”.
3. Make slanderdous and way-over-top statements about Ontario’s school cirriculum
Yup. And add in the:
- mandatory climate-change denying blathering;
- Jenny McCarthy anti-vax fan club membership, and;
- the firm belief that the lunar missions were shot on a Hollywood set
And you have the basics to make it as a rock-solid OPC or CPC Minister!
trashee @ March 3, 2015
Some call her Crystal. Others know her as “Snowflake”.
But in the highlands and lowlands of South-east Ottawa, she is known as a dedicated volunteer, a good and honest friend, but most of all, a fan of the Detroit Red Wings.
Which is why I was shocked to see her sudden and complete buy-in of all things Toronto Maple Leaf. She has realised that Canada’s Team – while currently experiencing some difficulties- is the purest way to express one’s Canadian identity.
Some in the neighbourhood will be shocked. Some will be dismayed. But those of us who know her well celebrate this epiphany and will support her through her conversion.
I hear through friends that a website dedicated to her devotion to the TMHC is in the works and will be made public shortly! I for one can’t wait!!!!
trashee @ February 19, 2015
Will Ezra have to go back to being a cashier at a 7-11 in Laval? That reallly is the extent of his c.v., no?
Sun News is about to sign off, permanently. CBC News has learned that the cable news television channel will shut down early tomorrow.
The network began broadcasting in 2011, launching a right-of-centre programming schedule.
It has had a constant challenge attracting viewers. (my note – because it SUCKED AT DOING ITS JOB!)
Its supporters blamed the CRTC for not giving it the same access enjoyed by news channels operated by CBC and CTV.
Film at 11. Complete with heavy whining.
trashee @ February 12, 2015
Lots of pols and pundits are falling all over themselves lauding the soon-to-be-ex CPC attack dog.
I won’t do that.
Don’t let the screen door hit you on the ass on your way out, Johno. Glad to see you go. Go visit Deano in Peterborough. He cries a lot and could use a broad shoulder.
The one redeeming quality about the guy was that is at least borderline socially progressive – and that’s a lot more than one can say for 95% of that caucus on incompetents.
Top five reasons why John Baird is running from the ReformCons:
1. Harper wanted to put one of his other immensely qualified caucus members on the file. Or, as Stephen Lautens puts it:
|Now the question is what giant of international affairs will fill Baird’s shoes? Or which Harper MP has a valid passport? #cdnpoli|
|10:01 PM – 02 Feb 15|
2. Fat Tony C has put a price on his head for suggesting that the Orrville gazebo should be relocated to the Nepean SportsPlex.
3. He received a plum job offer from Nigel Wright. Word on the street is that Nigel pays well.
4. Despite outward appearances, John and Vlad Putin are really good buds. My sources tell me that they were spotted hunting Bengal Tigers together last Fall and enjoyed a bottle of vodka and several helpings of borscht. Politics makes strange bedfellows.
5. Finally, the man is smart enough to know that he’s on a sinking ship and going out while on top is better than suffering the humiliation of seeing your party reduced to a rump on election night. (248)
trashee @ February 3, 2015
… and driving.
So here I was last week, coming home from work along my usual route. I stopped at the Heron/Riverside lights and looked around me at the other vehicles. I really wasn’t to surprised to see that every one of the drivers were “heads-down”, furiously typing away or reading whatever was on their screens.
I have included a diagram below, for illustrative purposes. I have even given my intersection buddies cute nicknames.
I mean, I’m SURE whatever they were doing was vital and important. Maybe it was the latest post from Mashable. Maybe the newest trailer from Game of Thrones. Maybe they were discussing the effect of fracking on climate change. I really don’t know.
But I’m sure it was important.
Look, I’m not pretending to be the ideal driver who obeys every rule. I speed, for example. Not in residential areas, mind you, but my cruising speed on the 400-series highways is often over 120 kph if the conditions are OK.
But using a mobile device – EVEN IF PARKED AT AN INTERSECTION – is just plain old stoooooopid!
And I’m not big on bellowing for better police enforcement on something, but this is one completely asinine act that has to be clamped down on… soon.
Here endeth my rant.
trashee @ January 31, 2015
I predicted this about two years ago. Right here.
With the bottoming out of the price of oil and the related low dollar, it was inevitable.
And I bet the short pants in the PMO are beginning to regret their short-changing and put-downs of Canada’s most populous province. They have surely made good sport of that over the past several years.
The Grit spin-dudes should have the good sense to dig up some of these clips to use in a targeted Ontario ad campaign.
trashee @ January 13, 2015
… the participation in it by some of the world leaders takes the shine a way somewhat. If indeed the march was also in defence of freedom of speech.
– Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who had several journalists jailed for insulting him in 2013.
– Saudi ambassador to France. The Saudis publicly flogged blogger @raif_badawi for “insulting Islam”. He’s due to receive 100 lashes.
– Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, whose forces killed 7 journalists in Gaza last year.
– The Foreign Minister of Bahrain, 2nd biggest jailer of journos in the world per capita (they torture them to!)
– The foreign Minister of Russia? Seriously? Russia? That bastion of freedom of the press and expression?
A nice summary of those countries who routinely jail – or do worse to – journalists can be found here.
All I’m saying is that Parisians and the French have shown the world that they will not be cowed.
However, some of the leaders that participated in the march should have stayed home until they clean up their own houses… else their hypocrisy taints a very honourable event. (50)
trashee @ January 11, 2015