Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


I haven't written about the Vancouver municipal strike for awhile and with city workers voting on mediator Brian Foley's recommendations this weekend, I don't expect the workers to end the strike with their vote.

CUPE 1004 is holding out for whistle-blower protection and didn't receive this in the Foley recommendations. I have received a number of anonymous emails during the strike laying out very clearly why Whistle-blower protection is a necessity. I happen to think so as well. While Council can vote to implement this protection as policy, it means nothing if it isn't spelled out in contracts. On this issue alone, I expect 1004 members to flatly reject the proposal.

CUPE 391, which represents Library workers didn't receive acceptable recommendations regarding gender equity, which was a prime concern for them.

Library workers are primarily female and in this day and age, it is a given that women should receive the same pay scale as men for work of equal value. Library workers are expected to turn down the Foley recommendations since it only stipulates that 300 of 700 Library workers receive pay equity. Local 391 has no other choice but to reject this proposal since to not do so would split apart their local.

Which brings us to CUPE 15 which represents inside workers at the City. The leadership of CUPE 15 has recommended approval of the Foley recommendations, however, this doesn't mean that the rank and file members will support the recommendations.

If the membership of CUPE 15 affirms the recommendations, it means that municipal workers of the City are bound to be at odds with each other. A wedge will have been driven between them.

Gender Equity and Whistle-blower protection issues are important for all workers. If you don't have these vital components in your contracts, it's a given that employees are or can be treated unfairly.

If CUPE 15 ratifies the deal, they might well be at odds with their brothers and sisters in locals 1004 and 391. This doesn't bode well for CUPE and I expect CUPE BC Leader, Barry O'Neil, to quickly step into the fracas which is surely to erupt if the various locals are not united.

Solidarity forever -- perhaps not quite yet.

Jamie Lee Hamilton