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wmtc: what i’m reading: your heart is a muscle the size of a fist, by sunil yapa

If only Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist could be required reading. Everyone who has ever scoffed cynically at protesters. Everyone who has ever seen a mainstream news report showing a burning car, over and over and over, but not showing … . . . → Read More: wmtc: what i’m reading: your heart is a muscle the size of a fist, by sunil yapa

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

– Naomi Klein discusses how Canada’s longstanding – if far from inevitable – identity as a resource economy is standing in the way of both needed action on climate change and reconciliation with First Nations:

In Canada, cultivation and industrialization were secondary. First and foremost, this country was built on voraciously devouring wildness. Canada was an extractive company – the Hudson’s Bay Company – before it was a country. And that has shaped us in ways we have yet to begin to confront.
Because such enormous fortunes have been built purely on the extraction of wild animals, intact forest and interred metals and fossil fuels, our economic elites have grown accustomed to seeing the natural world as their God-given larder.
When someone or something – like climate science – comes along and says: Actually, there are limits, we have to take less from the Earth and keep more profit for the public good, it doesn’t feel like a difficult truth. It feels like an existential attack.
The trouble isn’t just the commodity roller coaster. It’s that the stakes grow larger with each boom-bust cycle. The frenzy for cod crashed a species; the frenzy for bitumen and fracked gas is helping to crash the planet.
Today, we have federal and provincial governments that talk a lot about reconciliation. But this will remain a cruel joke if non-Indigenous Canadians do not confront the why behind those human-rights abuses. And the why, as the Truth and Reconciliation report states, is simple enough: “The Canadian government pursued this policy of cultural genocide because it wished to divest itself of its legal and financial obligations to Aboriginal people and gain control over their land and resources.”
The goal, in other words, was to remove all barriers to unrestrained resource extraction. This is not ancient history. Across the country, Indigenous land rights remain the single greatest barrier to planet-destabilizing resource extraction, from pipelines to clear-cut logging.
– Susan Delacourt highlights Charlie Angus’ frustration with the Libs’ Teletubbie political style, while Tony Burman notes that Middle East relations represent just one more area where Justin Trudeau’s actions couldn’t be much further from his rhetoric. 
– But Ethan Cox’ report on an Indigenous treaty alliance also signals what may the most effective response – as rather than allowing the Libs to feign friendship while pursuing another agenda, First Nations are presenting a united and direct contrast to Trudeau’s plans. And Doug Cuthand points out the widespread protest against the Dakota Access pipeline as the latest and largest example of that solidarity being put into action.

– Meanwhile, Marc Lee signals what we might expect from a federal climate change action plan based on the working groups currently reviewing the options.

– Laurie Monsebraaten reports on a needed push to ensure that child care funding is used to create not-for-profit spaces. And Ashifa Kassam points to Wellington’s loss of water rights to Nestle as a prime example of what happens when corporate dollars trump public needs.

– Finally, Alon Weinberg discusses why now is the time to implement a proportional electoral system in Canada. And Craig Scott makes the case for mixed-member proportional over the other options under consideration. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

A Puff of Absurdity: Water Wars and the Last Straw

The next world wars won’t be about land or oil. They’ll be about water. And Canada could be the next Iraq, invaded and decimated for the abundance of our natural resources. We have to stop corporate control over our most necessary resource now before … . . . → Read More: A Puff of Absurdity: Water Wars and the Last Straw

Politics, Re-Spun: Get Uppity, BC, or Get Screwed Again

I’ve written about being “uppity” many times before. It’s a controversial word. It’s been used to insult women and people of colour who don’t know their place. Who don’t know they should keep quiet and not try to cut back on white male entitlement. Don’t ya know. The fear of being uppity creates a chill … Continue reading Get Uppity, BC, or Get Screwed Again

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. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Get Uppity, BC, or Get Screwed Again

The Canadian Progressive: “Indian Givers”: New Neil Young Song Honors Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance

Canadian rock legend Neil Young just unleashed “Indian Givers”, a new protest song honoring the ongoing Standing Rock Sioux Tribe-led protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The post “Indian Givers”: New Neil Young Song Honors Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

. . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: “Indian Givers”: New Neil Young Song Honors Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance

The Canadian Progressive: How storytelling can help address police violence

Storytelling can help address police violence by enabling victims to articulate their personal experiences and reveal unjust policing practices. As well, articulated personal experiences of police brutality can help policing agencies to develop better … . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: How storytelling can help address police violence

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

– Saqib Bhatti and Stephen Lerner point out that the struggle for power between labour and capital is far from over, and that the next step may be to engage on wider questions of economic control:

For too long most unions defined their mission narrowly as winning higher wages and benefits for unionized workers without challenging how companies were managed or how capital was invested and controlled. Unions accepted that it was management’s job to run companies and the broader economy, and that the unions’ primary job was to get as much as possible for their members.

This still dominates labor’s thinking: we focus on income inequality but not wealth inequality; we focus on how to raise the bottom, but not how to stop wealth from concentrating at the top; we deal with our direct employers, but not those who really control the broader socioeconomic conditions in which our members work and their families live.

We have bought into the notion that the boss is entitled to endless profits and should be allowed to have control of the business and the economy as long as our members win incremental improvements in every contract. But that bargain no longer works.

(U)nions don’t typically enter into negotiations with the investors. They deal with their direct employer, even though in many major companies investors, even the CEOs, are ultimately constrained by the pressures put on them by investors.

Unions need to start looking to these actors higher up the food chain, to the people who control the money in the public sector as well as the private sector.

In the public sector, state and local officials accurately decry the fact that there is not enough money in public coffers to properly fund public services. However, the reason why there isn’t enough money is that corporations and the wealthy have waged a sustained war on taxes over the past forty years to avoid paying more.

Increasingly, these corporations are owned by Wall Street investors seeking to cut taxes in order to increase their return on investment. These wealthy few have a large part of their wealth tied up in the financial sector.

By trying to squeeze pennies out of public officials while letting the billionaires and bankers off the hook, public-sector unions are fighting with one hand tied behind their back.

– Gabriel Winant also offers a noteworthy look at the state of the U.S.’ labour movement. And Tom Parkin points out how a larger self-identified working class may be an increasingly important force in Canadian politics, while Sid Ryan comments on the state of the relationship between Canadian labour and the NDP.

– Mersiha Gadzo identifies plenty of the ways in which Justin Trudeau has combined a sunny disposition with the same dark actions we’d expect from the Harper Cons. But Nora Loreto argues that progressive activists will need to develop new strategies to address Trudeau rather than Harper.

– Finally, Sir Michael Marmot discusses the social causes of economic inequality, while pointing out the need to ensure a greater focus on all social determinants of health. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.- Chris Hamby’s brilliant series on the effects of investor-state dispute settlement continues with articles on the shift in power from governments to corporations, as well as the developing market in settlement … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.- Chris Hamby’s brilliant series on the effects of investor-state dispute settlement continues with articles on the shift in power from governments to corporations, as well as the developing market in settlement … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Politics, Re-Spun: When Misogynists Are So Bold, They Skip Anonymity

The state of backlash against feminism has become newly bold. Likely because feminists are gaining traction in society, so men are doubling down on their fight to keep their sick entitlements. The fact that most of the guys hurling the abuse used their real names, showing a passion and conviction in their argument that’s not … Continue reading When Misogynists Are So Bold, They Skip Anonymity

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: When Misogynists Are So Bold, They Skip Anonymity

wmtc: fight for 15 and fairness: brampton forum for decent work

After our members returned to work, but while I was still on staycation, I attended a community event organized by labour activists in Peel Region. It was a beautifully planned event, with music and food and lots of opportunities for participation.In O… . . . → Read More: wmtc: fight for 15 and fairness: brampton forum for decent work

wmtc: fight for 15 and fairness: brampton forum for decent work

After our members returned to work, but while I was still on staycation, I attended a community event organized by labour activists in Peel Region. It was a beautifully planned event, with music and food and lots of opportunities for participation.

In Ontario, the Fight for $15 & Fairness
is focused on the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s
Changing Workplaces Review.

Each of the three keynote speakers was brilliant and revelatory. First, Gurjeet Sran, an economist from York University, blasted through the myth that raising the minimum wage hurts the economy. (In fact, raising the minimum wage actually helps the economy.) Sran also spoke about the pressing need to raise the corporate tax rate. Even though most people in the room were familiar with these arguments, it’s always good to brush up on facts and strengthen your knowledge.

Next, Monica Avero spoke about the fight for justice for workers at Toronto Pearson Airport. Avero is a Unifor member and belongs to the Toronto Airport Workers’ Council, an alliance of unionized and non-union airport workers. The conditions at Pearson — Canada’s largest workplace — are nothing short of shocking. Minimum wage pay, constant on-call hours, inhumane shift scheduling, and no guarantee of hours are the norm. Wage theft abounds. Workers frequently sleep in the airport for a few hours in between shifts, not leaving the airport for days at a time in order to get more shifts.

If a worker can stick it out long enough to earn more than $13/hour, their contract is terminated. The work is either offered to someone else, or the same person can apply for the job at an even lower wage. Last year, hundreds of workers in the airport’s refuelling, wheelchair assistance, and de-icing services were laid off and forced to reapply for jobs at much lower pay rates. At least 200 of these workers were never rehired. The previous year, parking attendants were targeted. Avero herself has been working at Pearson for 18 years; she still earns minimum wage. Welcome to the world of deregulation and privatization.

If the conditions at Pearson are shocking, the conditions for temp workers around Ontario are off the charts. Navi Aujla, a graduate student, followed in Barbara Ehrenreich’s footsteps, working for temp agencies in the Toronto area. The agencies employ mainly new immigrants from racialized communities, and mostly women. As a rule, they pay less than minimum wage, expect round-the-clock availability, and are in constant violation of almost every clause in the Employment Standards Act. Many major companies use agency workers for the majority of their workforce. The agencies are completely unregulated, and what regulations there are, are not enforced.

After the main speakers, a member of the audience took the mic to talk about his situation. A Somali man, he was a successful lawyer in his home country. In Canada, his degree was not recognized (an extremely common situation), so he went back to school and became a qualified accountant. He sent his resume to 500 accounting firms and did not receive as much as a single phone call. Why would that be? His name is Abdullahi Barre, and this was in early 2002.

Barre took many different jobs, earning whatever wage he could. After many years, he found work as a parking attendant at Pearson Airport, and worked his way up to $14/hour. . . until everyone was fired and rehired at $11.25/hour. That’s when he joined the Workers Action Centre and became active in working for change.

With the event just days after CUPE 1989’s ratification vote, the organizers asked me to speak as well. It was exciting to report on a win, and to talk about how our strike energized and activated our members.

But the best part of the event, for me, was that two random 1989 members attended, on their own — and one even spoke a bit, during the open mic portion. I don’t know if either of these members had ever attended a union meeting before, and here they were at a community organizing event in Brampton. That might be the biggest win of all. . . . → Read More: wmtc: fight for 15 and fairness: brampton forum for decent work

wmtc: what the strike meant to us, in our own words

Image: “We Hit Them Like A Wave” — Diane Davies

After CUPE 1989 ratified our new contract, I said I would write about the intangible gains we made through our strike, the kind that aren’t written in the collective agreement. I’ve heard labour activists say that strikes are a “transformative experience” — a life-changing event — and now I know why. Standing up for ourselves, asserting our own rights, is a crucial part of every person’s development. But learning how to stand up collectively is a different level of power.

For many of our members, the strike was their first time seeing themselves as part of something larger than themselves — seeing our union not just as 400 library workers who happen to work for the same employer, but as part of CUPE, and part of the labour movement itself.

Striking together brought so much unity and solidarity among our members, so much goodwill and love and caring. Of course there were some complaints and some finger-pointing. Nothing is ever 100% — even our ratification vote was only 99%! But the huge majority of our members were supportive and caring — and determined.

At work, we are full-time and part-time, we are pages, librarians, library assistants, couriers, cataloguers. But on the line, we were one: we were 1989.

I could go on and on about this — I often do! — but I’d rather let our members speak in their own words. These are quotes from emails and from our closed discussion group on Facebook. Although I am quoting each anonymously, these all are actual quotes from our members. And from most of these, I’ve removed effusive thanks to the leaders and the bargaining team!

Reflections after we returned to work

It was sad we had to go out, but I’m glad I was part of it before I left. That was the first time in my entire 39 years working for MLS that I felt we were truly united! We should all be proud of that. (from a recently retired member)

***

The journey we all were on for three weeks was enlightening, because now we all know that striking is not easy, but we made friends along the way. We had a unity, a togetherness, instead of the divisions between part-timers and full-timers that some of us thought might happen.

It wasn’t all about the money but also the principle of the matter — fairness, equality, respect, being valued.

What I learned after I went back to work was how much our customers really cared and loved us. I heard “Thank God you are all back!” “I really miss you guys!”, “You’re a sight for sore eyes!”

It was a lot of sweating, walking, with moments of happiness and despair, but for a good cause and I would do it again.

***

We got lots of “welcome back” greetings and warm feelings when we reopened yesterday, as well as some unexpected ire from patrons angry about the raw deal the City had offered us. Seems like some regulars were letter writing (in our favour) during the strike!

Later we received two lovely pictures from little kids welcoming us back as only little kids can. Proof that we make a difference. We matter to people!

There comes a time in your life when you have to take a stand. Fight for what is right. Fight for “the greater good” and not just think about yourself. For me, this strike was my time. I will never pass by another strike and think that a quick honk is enough support. I will always stop to ask if there is anything I can do to help. Water, snacks, words of encouragement. Make calls. Walk the line with them. Whatever I can do to make a difference no matter how small.

As much as it’s not fun to be forced to strike by the employer, I have grown through this experience and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

***

Celebration Square will look empty and sad without all the pink-wearing ladies and gents. It wasn’t easy, and I am happy that strike is over, and we will go back to do what we love with all our passion. But still, I will miss our togetherness and unity and friendship and feeling that we are doing something very important, that we are changing Mississauga Library System forever, that we have a very strong voice and determination to do what is right. This is even a historic moment because this was the first time that our library went on strike! Solidarity and love to all of you.

***

I will probably retire next year, but I feel so good about what we all just did, leaving our union in such better condition, proud of ourselves, no longer afraid to strike. I am so glad I had a small part in this. I am so glad that I got to experience a “kinder gentler strike” and to witness solidarity in action.

***

I still can’t believe the unity the strike created. I admit feeling a little let down once the picketing ended, knowing that I wouldn’t be seeing so many of my colleagues daily. It was way better than any staff appreciation or team-building exercise our employer could come up with. The caring about people, checking up on one another, lifting morale when one of us was having a tough day, making sure colleagues were staying hydrated and being safe on hot, hot days.

We have all changed as co-workers. People I used to pass in the building with a smile and hello now take time to stop for a quick chat.

I know for myself, I will never look at striking workers the same. I always used to honk when driving past a strike and even dropped off coffee and Timbits when the teachers were out, but now I will go out of my way to drop things off to the picket lines and find time to walk with picketers. I will tell them to stay strong and they will look back on this time fondly. I know I will!

***

My first day on the strike, I was a little uncertain as many probably were. Within 15 minutes, up went the flag, someone handed me a sheet of chants. “Be a rebel,” she said. And so I was. My favourite part was blocking the executive garage, and chanting at the corner of Burnhamthorpe. Apparently the city received many complaints about the noise.

I met the most wonderful people and the kindness of strangers. Bringing water and freezies and honking. We really had a lot of public support. I learned so much and wouldn’t change those three weeks for anything.

Returning to work we realized the public was totally with us. So happy to see us back. I find it funny they were more appreciative of our return from the strike than when we were closed for 18 months [for renovations]. Many of our customers read between the lines of City’s press.

I will never pass a picket line again without honking or stopping to see if they need anything. Another thought I had mid point of the strike was: it wasn’t us vs. them, it was US FOR US.

***

Let me tell you about returning to work at the Lorne Park branch. Every person that came through our doors said, “Welcome back, we missed you.” Of course we told them we missed them also. Lots of hugs from regulars. Then patrons started bringing in treats. A large fruit tray from one, and homemade, still-warm banana muffins. We were missed as much as we missed them.

I did miss them, but I wouldn’t have traded our three weeks together for anything. Connecting with old friends and making new friends. Together, fighting for fairness.

***

All reports about our return were positive. Customers brought staff cookies, someone brought a potted plant! Everyone was saying, “Welcome back! We missed you.” Customers asked, “Are you happy, did it work out for you?” I have not heard one report of a negative comment from our customers.

During the strike…

Today was a really interesting time. Standing up for worker’s rights at the library was a unifying experience. It was really encouraging to hear so many commuters honk their horn in support!

***

I can’t believe how many caring and talented people work for the library. There are too many to name individually, but I see at least one of them being brilliant every single day. It stuns me that our Employer can be so willfully disrespectful to those who give so much of themselves seemingly as naturally as they breathe air.

It’s ridiculous how our Employer has turned so many of its best and brightest against itself. There are incredibly dynamic library workers, and often it’s these very folks who are channeling their boundless energies and exceptional levels of commitment into keeping our Union strong while standing up to the very organization they give their proverbial blood, sweat and tears to every day.

I love how united we are. We have 20+ year veterans picketing with fresh-faced newcomers. Librarians and senior librarians with couriers and technical services processors. Full-timers, part-time part-timers and pages. Everybody sounds passionate, committed, and fed up with always being treated as an afterthought.

Also, in my role, I get to more branches and departments than most, and every day I see the great things that we do! It really is impressive how we’ve come together across all job classifications. That alone shows how badly our Employer has screwed things up: EVERYBODY has had enough!

***

I didn’t realize how big an impact a strike can make until I heard comments from our supporters. Kinda like being a part of something bigger than oneself.

***

I have never felt such a deep sense of belonging. I am so proud!!!!

***

I’m falling in love with my Union!! I am seeing so much of the best that people can be these last few days (ha ha…with some exceptions, of course, but I tend to ignore those parts).

Really, I am in awe! Thank you and the rest of the team for your strength and perseverance!

Woohoo! Onward march!!

During some tough times…

I support our union! Goodbye 0.5% and minimum wage! We will not blame our union whether we achieve our aims or not. Because: no fight, no hope at all!!!

***

I’ve been a library employee (and union member) for almost 30 years. In that time, we’ve come close to striking on two occasions (one of them within a hair’s breadth) but we’ve always backed off. Why? First, fear; second, a naïve belief that if we were “reasonable” our employer would recognize this and reward us “the next time”. This “next time” never came, so we drew a line in the sand—and our employer hasn’t just crossed it, they’ve obliterated it with their mean-spirited and insulting offer. I’m sure they did this because they assumed, as in past years, that we would back off. Well, the chickens have come home to roost — only we’re not chickens. We’re taking a long-overdue stand against the erosion of our standard of living.

I’ve spoken with a number of people on the picket line and haven’t heard one word of dissent. I wonder if the City realizes that everything they’ve said and done thus far has only galvanized support for the strike? They will not break us. We all stand together.

***

This letter [from the library director] is an insidious attempt to divide us; its aim is to plant doubt in the minds of the Union members, weaken our trust and ultimately sap the vigour, commitment and passion that Union members feel right now ( and which [the director] and the other senior managers can witness so vividly from their library offices when they observe us out on Celebration Square).

It must be rankling some of them immensely to see us all together so strong and committed. A cliché but true: divide and conquer. This is what she is trying to do to us.

It is shameful that she is resorting to this tactic and indeed an insult to our intelligence; it is once again treating us as if we are children.

Please know that I stand by you and the rest of the Union leaders. I have not yet received this letter in the mail from Rose. When I do, I will follow up as you suggest (send her a simple, polite response that I stand with my union).

I trust that the rest of our Union membership will do the same.

***

Tsk tsk tsk, don’t the employers know their attempts to divide us backfires? It’s amazing how loud librarians can get. Today I’ll test my hearing. But so far so good. I think it survived yesterday.

Sending positive thoughts/vibes/prayers to the bargaining team this week. Go get them!!!

***

Before we went on strike, I already had a bit of activism experience . . . . Now I’m involved in a different type of activism (our Union strike) and it’s fascinating to see where the two types of activism share common ground: ultimately both are profoundly powerful agents for positive change and deeply life-changing for the activists.

I’m sure all of our CUPE Union members who`re working so hard together in this current struggle with the City feel this.

***

Yes! We need to persevere and support each other and stand up for the fairness of this strike. I envision our strike also helping other struggling workers in the process.

***

I, for one, am willing to be out on strike for however long it takes; you can count on me.

I believe (as you do) that if we keep it up, we WILL prevail.

I’ve worked for the Mississauga Library System for over two decades and never at any time had any illusion about the employer-employee relationship.

It feels very good to finally have a strong, truly committed Union leadership to inspire library union members to stand up to the City, make it accountable for its actions and demand a fair contract for library staff, a contract that respects good working conditions and a just, equitable remuneration for all levels of staff.

Alongside this it’s wonderful to see the strength and friendship among library staff as we unite together in this strike.

Also wonderful to see the community support we’re receiving from so many of our customers; truly heartwarming!

Not to mention the support and encouragement our Union is receiving from so many other unions and labour organizations.

***

I am not at all surprised at the behaviour for the City, having worked the library/City for 42 years, this is what I have seen and known for a long time. They have taken advantage of the library staff because we were seen as weak and as we continued to back down at the last minute when a strike was so close it seemed to confirm that. Going on strike is a very difficult thing to do especially for a group who make such low wages, therefore making it very hard to have money in the bank to get you through a strike — and management knows that and uses that. I feel the City would not and do not treat or feel the same why about the other City Unions that are mostly dominated by men.

Your words say it so clearly and I do hope all of library union members are able to hang in there. This is a very hard fight against an unfeeling or caring employer.

When we returned to the table…

Dear Laura

We are with you and the bargaining team.

Thank you.

***

Good luck to you and the bargaining team. I wish the city would realize what a dedicated crew we (the library workers) are. To strike in summer heat and not falter. It must say something about us as a group.

One thing about this strike. You can meet staff you don’t usually work with and catch up with staff that you do. Whether they be your branch or another.

I appreciate seeing the extra support we are getting. The Fight for 15 Fairness, Maureen O’Reilly, Fred Hahn, so many others. Yup, this is bigger then just us. I would love to see minimum raised to 15 across the province.

When we reached a settlement…

I can’t believe it! This is so wonderful! I am so proud to work with such amazing, strong, dedicated and compassionate people. Congratulations to everyone for a fight well fought!

***

I will cherish my wonderful memories of picketing, rallies, friendship, unity.

***

I will definitely miss walking and talking to everyone as well! I will miss our togetherness and preserverance, I will always remember this bonding experience! Love you guys!

***

18 days ago, my sisters and brothers of CUPE 1989 set out on a journey to show our employer that we were fed up with our working conditions. That we would no longer stand for these unfair working condition.

This strike has taught me many things (some not so good, but let’s focus on the positive); there are so many amazing people that work in our library system, the support, the SOLIDARITY. The support of the public and other unions in this fight was unbelievable.

I hope that we never have to experience this again, but it is now a memory I will cherish, better than any staff appreciation our employer will ever put on for us. I was definitely feeling the stress this past week, but everyone was so supportive and I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished together.

I hope that our fight will help others fight for what’s fair and help end precarious work. I say all this still not knowing what the deal will be, but I trust that our bargaining team would not settle for anything less than we deserve. I don’t know about you, but I’m celebrating this weekend!

***

What a wonderful experience this was for all of us. This strike gave me confidence!! I got to know so many wonderful members from the library system and from other wonderful CUPE members. It’s an unforgettable experience for me. I will cherish this wonderful memories

Let’s carry this hope, loyalty and friendship forward into our workplace and stay respectful and kind to all of our friends who fought this battle and carried the flags and talked the talk… let this be our future mission!

***

I was starting to feel the stress, my morale was down and then a few conversations with colleagues and a couple negative comments made by people made me take a step back and say ‘hey wait a minute’ and that just motivated me more. Thank you so much for your tireless efforts for us and thank you to everyone who was out there on the picket lines every day in the heat, no matter what, fighting the good fight. I have had the chance to talk to and meet so many people I didn’t know before so thank you for those connections as well. I am on vacation next week but I will be excited to get back and see all the excited kids for the summer programs.

***

Every time I wear a pink shirt from now on it will mean something more than just wearing a pink shirt.

***

I am so excited to go back to work but I will miss every moment of my picketing!! Wow! We had so much fun. See you all [at the ratification vote] with our similing faces. We did it! We won!!!

***

I feel like we won the lottery! Only we didn’t win it, we FOUGHT for it!

After a member expressed concern about part-time getting “more” than full-time…

I knew in time opinions like this would surface. This is EXACTLY what the employer wants. They want staff to have the “this doesn’t effect me, so I don’t support the movement” attitude.

This is the response that I myself have received from friends and family: “But you’re full-time permanent now, why do you care about other levels that you probably won’t go back to?” But once they hear the issues they understand.

I care because I was part-time for 15 years, and I received nothing. I care because when I became full-time I suddenly had all these things I never had before, I was suddenly so much more important, when nothing had changed. My work ethic stayed the same, my intelligence level was the same, who I was still the same. But because I was now full-time, suddenly I mattered.

I care because suddenly my 15 years of part-time service meant nothing (they didn’t want to give me my service pin because I was now full-time, though I completed more then fifteen years at part-time — my manager had to fight for it). I care because I’ve known many people in this system for many years and we’ve all at some point felt that part-time staff meant nothing and that has finally changed.

The bargaining team has made me believe that change is possible, that we CAN make a difference but we MUST stick together. It’s never too late to help your teammates receive things they should have had a long time ago. Full-time or part-time, Pages or supervisors we are all human beings and deserve to make wages we can live on. Solidarity, today, tomorrow and always!!!!

***

I understand the stress, we’re all feeling it. I know as this goes into a second week people are coming to the realization that this could possibly go on for a while. Know what’s lost now will be regained in the future. The City now knows we’re not afraid, they know that we are willing to do what needs to be done, and I hope that because of this they will deal with future agreements with more class and dignity than this round, because they know we won’t back down. I put all my trust in our leadership and the bargaining team. There will always be bumps, it’s part of life. This will all be worth it in the end. Solidarity always.

. . . → Read More: wmtc: what the strike meant to us, in our own words

wmtc: what the strike meant to us, in our own words

Image: “We Hit Them Like A Wave” — Diane DaviesAfter CUPE 1989 ratified our new contract, I said I would write about the intangible gains we made through our strike, the kind that aren’t written in the collective agreement. I’ve heard labour activists… . . . → Read More: wmtc: what the strike meant to us, in our own words

wmtc: we have a new contract

Our ratification vote meeting was an experience we will never forget. The line to sign in snaked all around the building; it took more than an hour for everyone to sign in. I believe it was the largest turnout we’ve ever had, for anything.

At the top of the meeting, the bargaining team stood in the front of the auditorium. Before we could say anything, our members burst out into applause, standing and clapping and cheering — for a long time. I was overwhelmed: the member who took this photo caught my tears. We applauded our members back, and we all stood clapping and cheering and shouting. I have no words to describe how I proud I was — of all of us.

While we walked our members through a presentation about the new contract, there was spontaneous cheering and applause throughout.

And then the vote: 99% voted to ratify. 99%!

Our goals

We went into bargaining with four principal goals:
– no concessions,
– living wage for our Pages,
– some improvement for part-time workers, and
– the largest increase possible for all.

We achieved every one of these goals.

Our strategy

We had one central strategy: we would not accept gains for one group at the expense of another. Pages, part-time, and full-time must all gain. We all know that employers try to divide us, to play groups against each other. Our union has fallen into that trap before. This time, we vowed that would not happen.

Employers are fond of talking about “the pie” — the size of the budget alloted to the bargaining unit, which is then divided throughout your contract.

So if, for example, you give Pages a fair piece of this pie, then you can’t also get a fair wage increase for full-time. If you want to keep your premium for Sunday work, then you can’t also get something else. And so on.

The bargaining team vowed to reject this way of thinking. Our shorthand for this was: Reject the Pie. Here’s a meme that I used as my profile pic for a long time.

A few details about our goals and our contract

No concessions

Naturally the Employer was after whatever it could get out of our contract. The list of potential concessions is so long, it’s practically our entire contract.

So many locals had been burned on recent contracts, that CUPE has adopted a national strategy: no-concession bargaining. I find it strange that such a thing even needs to be said. But from our earliest days of bargaining training, we agreed: no concessions.

We did give the Employer two things that they wanted that some of our members may see as a loss. However, in both instances, we were able to win additional language that made these points a benefit for both sides.

Living wage for library pages

Our Pages are our largest classification — 28% of our membership — and they were earning only pennies over minimum wage. We went into bargaining insisting that they earn $15/hour, at once. And we were determined to do it without compromising anyone else’s deal.

The Employer did recognize the need to give the Pages a significant raise. With a new mayor crowing about poverty reduction, they knew they had no choice. But the Employer’s proposals for the Pages were all too little, took too long, and came at the expense of other members. Time after time we rejected their proposals for step increases, including their supposed best offer which brought the Pages to $14/hour in 2018.

Our Pages now earn $15.00/hour. New hires will start at $14, and move to $15 after their probationary period (390 hours). This is the achievement I am most proud of.

I’m told 1989 is the first CUPE local to bring members from minimum wage to $15/hour in one leap.

Improvements for part-timers

We did not go nearly as far as we wanted on the part-time improvements. Their work life is still precarious and their contract still grossly inadequate. But had we accepted the Employer’s offer in late June, it would have degraded even further.

As a result of our strike, the Employer dropped its demands for the punitive language — language that we promised our part-timers we would never agree to.

And we did win two significant improvements that will have a very positive impact on the lives of our part-timers. I believe we will be able to go further for part-timers in our next round of bargaining.

Wage increases

The Employer moved off its (supposed) best offer, and agreed to our (reduced) wage increase proposal. We did not win as much as we deserve — nor as much as library managers and city executives get. But we did get more than the Employer’s best offer — and more than they said they could afford.

What we gave up

We told our members that we wouldn’t win everything, that no strike wins absolutely everything. The bargaining team struggled for a long time over where to give.

We looked at the possibilities from every angle, factoring in every variable. What would benefit the most members? What would hurt members the least? And now, of course, there was another factor. Did we want to ask our members to stay out even longer? Would another week or more of striking produce a better deal, or would there be diminishing returns? We had an opportunity to end our strike while members’ morale was still high. Would more sacrifice bring more gains, or only more hardship?

We discussed and debated for a long time. Eventually, we found consensus. We made what we feel is a relatively small sacrifice in other to achieve all these other goals.

And so much more

These are very practical, tangible gains that we made as a direct result of our strike. Yet it’s only part of the story. I will write more about the intangible gains — how the strike changed us, both collectively and individually. Stay tuned. . . . → Read More: wmtc: we have a new contract

wmtc: we have a new contract

Our ratification vote meeting was an experience we will never forget. The line to sign in snaked all around the building; it took more than an hour for everyone to sign in. I believe it was the largest turnout we’ve ever had, for anything.At the top … . . . → Read More: wmtc: we have a new contract

Politics, Re-Spun: The DNC Superdelegates Can Fix Party Corruption This Week

In case you missed it, Clinton and the DNC are corrupt, and have been for a long time. They and their media partners have worked hard to keep Bernie Sanders from becoming the Democratic nominee for president. And still, he almost won in the primaries and caucuses. What could he have accomplished if the DNC … Continue reading The DNC Superdelegates Can Fix Party Corruption This Week

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: The DNC Superdelegates Can Fix Party Corruption This Week

wmtc: between the lines: how we got here

We’ve stopped picketing and demonstrating, and are waiting for our ratification meeting and vote tomorrow night, Monday, July 25.As local president, my life has been consumed by bargaining and the strike for so long, it feels a bit surreal. Is it reall… . . . → Read More: wmtc: between the lines: how we got here

wmtc: between the lines: how we got here

We’ve stopped picketing and demonstrating, and are waiting for our ratification meeting and vote tomorrow night, Monday, July 25.As local president, my life has been consumed by bargaining and the strike for so long, it feels a bit surreal. Is it reall… . . . → Read More: wmtc: between the lines: how we got here

wmtc: from the front lines, day 18 (we have a deal!)

The Strike Is Over – We Have A Deal!The Bargaining Team is very pleased to announce that we have reached a settlement! This is a “tentative settlement,” pending ratification by our members, then the Library Board, and Council. The Bargaining Team is ve… . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 18 (we have a deal!)

wmtc: from the front lines, day 18 (we have a deal!)

The Strike Is Over – We Have A Deal!The Bargaining Team is very pleased to announce that we have reached a settlement! This is a “tentative settlement,” pending ratification by our members, then the Library Board, and Council. The Bargaining Team is ve… . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 18 (we have a deal!)

wmtc: from the front line, day 17

I am very pleased to announce that we had an encouraging afternoon at the table — enough that we are meeting again tomorrow. So finally, something hopeful to report.Maureen O’Reilly, President of 4948, TPL Workers Union, and Fred Hahn, President of CU… . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front line, day 17

wmtc: from the front lines, day 17

I am very pleased to announce that we had an encouraging afternoon at the table — enough that we are meeting again tomorrow. So finally, something hopeful to report.Maureen O’Reilly, President of 4948, TPL Workers Union, and Fred Hahn, President of CU… . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 17

wmtc: from the front lines, day 16

Picketing TodayI received great reports from our members who said Good Morning at the executive garage. Picketing at Central in general is going very well. Don’t forget to make leafletting and speaking to the public your top priority.In addition, we hi… . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 16

wmtc: from the front lines, day 16

Picketing TodayI received great reports from our members who said Good Morning at the executive garage. Picketing at Central in general is going very well. Don’t forget to make leafletting and speaking to the public your top priority.In addition, we hi… . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 16