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wmtc: fun with bag signs: in which i am photographed removing garbage from my neighbourhood

Are there bag signs where you live?In Mississauga and perhaps most suburban places, people put up bag signs advertising services. The signs are cheap to buy and easy to post. They are also illegal. To me, they are the Nexus of Evil: advertising plus vi… . . . → Read More: wmtc: fun with bag signs: in which i am photographed removing garbage from my neighbourhood

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: 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

wmtc: from the front lines, day 15

Libraries Rock!What can you say when 50 schoolkids march to your picket line holding signs they made to support us, chanting “Kids Say: “LIBRARIES ROCK!”??? What a day!The Dufferin-Bloor Hub camp does one social justice lesson each summer, and this sum… . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 15

wmtc: from the front lines, day 15

Libraries Rock!What can you say when 50 schoolkids march to your picket line holding signs they made to support us, chanting “Kids Say: “LIBRARIES ROCK!”??? What a day!The Dufferin-Bloor Hub camp does one social justice lesson each summer, and this sum… . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 15

wmtc: from the front lines, day 13

We spent more time in the community this week, speaking to Mississauga residents about our cause, and giving the gift of free storytimes. Here are some reports.Malton”I had a customer tell me yesterday that he calls 3-1-1 everyday to find out when the … . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 13

wmtc: from the front lines, day 13

We spent more time in the community this week, speaking to Mississauga residents about our cause, and giving the gift of free storytimes. Here are some reports.Malton”I had a customer tell me yesterday that he calls 3-1-1 everyday to find out when the … . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 13

wmtc: from the front lines, day 12

While Ribfest took over Celebration Square, CUPE 1989 members had another satisfying day in our communities. The managers that the City has assigned to “monitor” us (their word) and the special outside security detail came along for the ride. Because, … . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 12

wmtc: from the front lines, day 12

While Ribfest took over Celebration Square, CUPE 1989 members had another satisfying day in our communities. The managers that the City has assigned to “monitor” us (their word) and the special outside security detail came along for the ride. Because, … . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 12

wmtc: from the front lines, day 11

On Thursday, striking Mississauga library workers visited various branches in the system to talk with members of the community. Here are some reports and pictures.Clarkson”Our group was quite small, but had a big impact. We saw many patrons that a… . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 11

wmtc: from the front lines, day 11

On Thursday, striking Mississauga library workers visited various branches in the system to talk with members of the community. Here are some reports and pictures.Clarkson”Our group was quite small, but had a big impact. We saw many patrons that a… . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 11

wmtc: from the front lines, day 10

Five of our members reported on the early-morning disruption of traffic coming into the parking garages!

Report #1:

As we were picketing the entrance to the Civic Center parking garage this morning, word came down that Library Director Rose Vespa was spotted in the line of cars — we created a back-up as far as Rathburn! — so anticipation was running high: flags were waving, whistles were blowing, and chants were chanted (“Rose Vespa, be a leader! Be a leader, now!”). As she approached the City Centre garage entrance, Rose gave us a timid wave and proceeded to the entrance to the library garage — where another group of members awaited. Rather than enter the library garage, Rose continued to Burnhamthorpe and went around the block, apparently parking in the Living Arts Centre.

Realizing that there was no underground connection between the Living Arts Centre and the Civic Centre, a bunch of us hustled to the north side of the Civic Centre to await her arrival. Sure enough, after a few minutes she emerged and made her way across to the Civic Centre entrance. I was a little late arriving to the scene, but our members stationed there greeted her with signs, flags, whistles, and chants. All members were civil and respectful during the entire process. I feel that this “blockade” of the Civic Center parking garage was our most effective demonstration yet.

Report #2:

It was an exciting morning! Many of us were at the north exec doors when the street was closing down, so a small contingent waited there and the rest of us went to the east side entrance. They were not blocking the entrance at that time, so we decided it was high time to start. Many of the city staff were supportive and waited patiently, but others were furious! The line extended as far as the eye could see. Someone said that Rose was waiting in the line.

When the car in front of Rose was held back, it became obvious that she was going to go straight rather than in that entrance. The car was let through and the chants/whistles were super loud. A few members actually stepped into the road to block her and security asked them to get back on the sidewalk. The group started towards the Central entrance chanting and whistling, etc. when Rose decided rather than being held up by her “valued staff” (!) she was going to drive around – even though she spent all that time waiting in line! It was about 10 AM by that time. Several people went back to the north side by Civic Centre rightly guessing that she was going to park at Living Arts and walk across.

Apparently, Rose crossed the street with an escort. Several people, mostly pages, were chanting and yelling at her to do something. The staff she encountered in the Civic Centre said she was polite and said, Good morning. We believe that she notified security that she was in line because two or three city security came out before she made it to the front of the line.

Report #3:

It was a very exciting day at the Parking Garages. The level of excitement in the Rose cat & mouse was riveting.

The Exec garage was off limits – that road was closed due to Ribfest. Picketers blocked CC and Library parking entrances. When they found that drivers were going in the Civic Centre exit they blocked that as well. This tactic was so successful that traffic was backed up right to the 403. RibFest trucks were also in the mix so it was noisy.

Soon after I got there Rose was identified in the jam sometime after 9 AM. We chanted: “Rose Vespa be a leader – Be a leader now!” She ignored us. We were prepared to block her at whatever entrance she used. When she got to the CC lot entrance, members spontaneously fanned out on the street in front of her and chanted. A rental security guard herded them back and Rose drove past this entrance. She also drove by the library lot and turned right at Burhamthorpe.

We assumed she would either park at the Living Arts Centre or try to come back thinking we’d given up. A small group walked up to LAC. Rose walked out of LAC (no underground walkway) and crossed to CC. Our group met her there and chanted. Rose kept her head down and rushed into CC.

Report #4:

Princess Royal Drive was being closed to set up carnival rides for Ribfest. A majority of members moved from the Executive Parking Garage and started to block all the entrances to the Civic Center and Central Library. At some point, a member realized that Rose was in the line of traffic attempting to enter the building. She ended up bypassing both entrances and parked in the Living Arts Center parking. We chanted “Rose Vespa, be a leader! Be a leader NOW!” We also did a very vocal: “What do we want? JUSTICE! When do we want it? NOW!”

Report #5:

As we turned the corner onto Duke of York, we noticed Rose’s car almost parallel to us. We continued on to the main entrance to inform the other members that she was in the line of cars. It appeared as if Rose had a bit of a nervous smile on her face. As soon as Rose was in front of the exit driveway, we started us with our chants.

Once she passed us, I continued to the main entrance garage and participated in a couple of more Rose chants. We realized that she had no intention of entering there, so I hurried over to the library entrance to give them a heads up. Seeing that blocked by us, Rose sped up and turned right.

I decided to head back towards the executive entrance on the chance she would end up in that vicinity once more. We stopped at the back doors of City Hall. There was a large gathering of people at the far corner. We saw Rose and another woman halfway across the road. We started the Rose chant. She had a nervous smile as she made her way into City Hall. She avoided all eye contact with us. Each time we said the chant, we got louder, until the door closed.

Bargaining Ream Re-Grouping

The bargaining team met today to regroup and strategize. Our rep led us through an interesting reflection exercise about the strike — what’s going well, what we’re gaining through the process, what are the challenges. The positive column was WAY longer than the negative! And the few negatives were just down to lack of experience and a steep learning curve.

In the positive column were words like:
Unity
Solidarity
Cohesion
Strength
Empowerment
Communication
Friendship

Tomorrow a few representatives of the bargaining team will meet with a few reps of the Employer. We don’t know what to expect, but at least we’ll be communicating.

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Support Library Workers!

Please sign our petition, and tell the City of Mississauga: Give your library workers a fair deal!

Bonnie Crombie, Mayor
905-896-5555
mayor@mississauga.ca

John Kovac, Library Board / Council
905-896-5400
john.kovac@mississauga.ca

Matt Mahoney, Library Board / Council
905-896-5800
matt.mahoney@mississauga.ca

For more information, contact Laura Kaminker, President, CUPE Local 1989, at 647-200-1481. . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 10

wmtc: from the front lines, day 10

Five of our members reported on the early-morning disruption of traffic coming into the parking garages!Report #1:As we were picketing the entrance to the Civic Center parking garage this morning, word came down that Library Director Rose Vespa was spo… . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day 10

wmtc: from the front lines, day nine

Yesterday, we did this!

The cacerolazo was awesome! We had so much fun banging and honking and marching. We were loud and proud — and you know our Employer was listening! Thanks to everyone who helped make this special afternoon/evening happen. Look for videos on Facebook and Twitter.

Once again, we had great support from CUPE Ontario and the Peel District CUPE Council, along with several people from my own activist network.

Back to the table

Tomorrow the 1989 bargaining team is meeting to regroup and talk about the road ahead. The following day, Thursday, we are meeting with the Employer. I will update you on any developments as soon as I can.

Numbers!

Based on all the cheques that our strike payroll team wrote, almost three hundred members picketed last week. That is the highest turnout we’ve ever had — for anything — that I’m aware of. And that was before many members returned from their vacations! Well done!!

CUPE Summer of the Strike

Currently 1989 is one of four CUPE locals on strike, and several more on the verge of walking out. This level of fightback has not been seen for a long time. Striking is contagious — other locals look on and say, hey, that’s an option, maybe we need to take that route. If you’re curious about the issues, try these links: CUPE Ontario News and CUPE Ontario Strike Support.

P.S. Photos!

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01 . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day nine

wmtc: from the front lines, day nine

We had quite an eventful day!1989 making noise!!!The cacerolazo was awesome! We had so much fun banging and honking and marching. We were loud and proud — and you know our Employer was listening! Thanks to everyone who helped make this special af… . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day nine

wmtc: from the front lines, day eight (signs!)

. . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day eight (signs!)

wmtc: from the front lines, day eight (signs!)

. . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day eight (signs!)

wmtc: from the front lines, day eight

Another amazing day! . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day eight

wmtc: from the front lines, day eight

Another amazing day! . . . → Read More: wmtc: from the front lines, day eight