Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Richmond, Delta, Burnaby & Surrey

CBC News in Vancouver

11:00pm 31 July 2007

CBC has announced that the City of Surrey and it's CUPE local have come to a negotiated agreement. Further, the District of North Vancouver and its CUPE local are currently meeting.

The contract is based on the Richmond template and as with the others the GVRD Labour Relations Bureau was not involved.

While in what seems like far, far away land Vancouver is turning into an ugly family dispute.

Vancouver's First Final Offer 9.75%

Vancouver 2007 Offer for Settlement with CUPE 15

2. Terms of Agreement (All Employers)
The term of the new Collective Agreements shall be for thirty-nine (39) months from 2007 January 01 to 2010 March 31, both dates inclusive. Subsections (2) and (3) of Section 50 of the Labour Relations Code shall be specifically excluded from and shall not apply to the new Collective Agreement.

3. General Increases (all Employers)

January 01, 2007: 3.0%

January 01, 2008: 2.0%

April 01, 2008: 1.0%

January 01, 2009: 2.5%

April 01, 2009: 1.0%

December 31, 2009: 0.25%

Total Increase = 9.75%


Ed. Note:

Richmond Agreement = 9.50% from 2007 January 01 - 2009 December 31
Vancouver Offer = 9.75% " "

Perhaps I am suspicious but the 0.25% increase on 2009 December 31 appears as package of Sweet and Low meant to just appear slightly better than Richmond.

The City of Vancouver also seeks to change the process of recruiting new staff and bypass the current Grievance process with a new dispute resolution system.

I still believe it is this this last point that is bargaining obstacle. It is a Meritocracy vs Seniority issue.

Richmond's Offer 18.76%

These are sections 1, 2, and 6 of the Richmond 2007 Memorandum of Agreement

1. Terms of Agreement

5 years
January 1, 2007 - December 31, 2011

2. General Wage Adjustments

January 1, 2007: 3.0%
January 1, 2008: 3.0%
January 1, 2009: 3.5%
January 1, 2010: 4.0%
January 1, 2011: 4.0%
  • "Me Too" clause fifth year
    • Should negotiations within the GVRD pattern bargaining settlement result in an increase in excess of 4% within 2011 calendar year - the City of Richmond will meet the annual average percentage increase such that equality of percentages exists for the 2011 calendar year.
    • Such adjustments within the GVRD may result from either other 5 year agreements or negotiations for a renewal of collective agreement because of expiry prior to 2011.
  • Compounded Percentage Increase 18.76%
3. Benefits CUPE 718/394

a. Premium Cost Sharing Changes for Medical, Dental and Group Life
i. Effective January 1, 2008: CUPE 394 increases to 75% (from 70%)
ii. Effective January 1, 2010: CUPE 394/718 both increae to 80% (from 75%)

b. Extended Health Coverage Changes for employees and eligible dependents for the period effective January 1, 2008:

Extended Health Benefits to be altered:
i. Laser eye surgery to a lifetime maximum of $750.00.
ii. Vision care increase to a maximum of $500.00 within a 24 month period
(or continuous 12 month period if there is a change in prescription of 0.25
diopter) for new or prescription eyeglasses.
iii. Eye exams - maximum $100.00/2 years
iv. Registered Dietician - maximum $500.00/calendar year.

Richmond Confirms Vancouver Request

This Globe and Mail excerpt reflects the narrow thinking of Vancouver management.


City strike will likely reach Labour Day

While other cities have settled with workers, observer says Vancouver's negotiations aren't as promising

Yesterday, Richmond's general manager of corporate services said the City of Vancouver had asked Richmond to hold off on offering the five-year contract to its unions so negotiations wouldn't be affected in Vancouver.

"There was discussion about us holding off," Mike Kirk said. "We thought about it, we did delay for a very short period of time, but we decided no, we needed to proceed with our course of action."

Vancouver spokesperson Jerry Dobrovolny said the B.C. Labour Relations Board knows about the communications between the two cities and has cleared Vancouver of any wrongdoing.

"The city employees were about to vote on a specific last offer and Richmond was about to present a different five-year offer right before Vancouver employees were to vote on a 39-month offer from the city," he said.

Ed. Note:

Mr. Dubrovolny's comments reflect naievty or the Castle Vancouver Complex. Vancouver's CUPE members were getting updates on the Richmond agreement prior to Mr. Dubrovolny's attempt at divine intervention. Vancouver's actions are not contrary to the Labour Code as stated by the LRB.
Collective bargaining often includes elements of pressure or leverage.
-Michael Flemming-
The actions do, however, reflect bad faith bargaining at a time when relations are already strained.

Vancouver Civic Strike - CTV News @ 6

CTV News gave the strike and its impact much more coverage. The quality of the reporting was superior to Global with three separate pieces. CTV actually shot video of the Animal Control Shelter instead of resorting to stock footage. The shelter is only 15 minutes east of Hasting Community Centre.

  • Ray Cam Community Services Centre
    • Lack of services for children
    • CUPE 15 issue
  • BC Labour Relations Board
    • CUPE 1004 v. City of Vancouver re: Fireworks Garbage
    • Outcome: Sesame Street Moment with both sides COOPERATING to resolve situation without LRB involvement
  • Alleged Assault - Animal Control Shelter & Alleged Vandalsims
    • Images of Vancouver Animal Control Shelter
    • Shorter segment of Jerry Dubrovolny press conference
    • Images of vandalized city cars (back window and tail lights)
    • Report that City Alleges Union involvement but admits it has no proof.
The next postings will break down the stories themselves with transcripts and again judge how the Union and the City are faring in communicating their messages. How the major news outlets report the story will also be discussed.

Alleged Assault - GlobalTV Transcript

If one's position fails to persuade attack the character of your opponent.

This is a review of how the City and the Union handled an incident and is not meant in anyway to minimize the allegations.

The City of Vancouver held a press conference regarding the alleged assault on a pregnant woman outside the City's Animal Control Shelter at 2:00 pm Monday July 30th.

The City is on the side of law and order and will protect it's exempt staff and the public, by multiple means, from "this sort of behaviour." Mr. Dubrovolny had enough pauses within his short commentary to add gravity and concern.

The Union either was not interviewed or not available as News Anchor Jill Krop simply read CUPE's standard response. Deny. Deny. Deny.

Neither side provided any information on the condition of the woman involved or offered any concern for her current well being.

The Union would have been wiser to respond: "We are investigating these allegations." They could have then set a time to meet with a news crew live or by phone before GlobalTV's deadline. An updated response or repeating that they were still investigating would then have been better than to deny and deflect. Denial always appears as if the the truth is being concealed.

City of Vancouver. The press conference may simply be inflated allegations, but, the Union made no effort to tell it's story. When conducting a media war for the hearts and minds of taxpayers - SILENCE IS NOT GOLDEN.

Transcript from Global TV 5:00pm July 31.

(Closest Vancouver Community Centre to Global TV's Burnaby offices.)


While labour peace is breaking out all over the tone in the Vancouver Civic strike
(sic) getting decidedly ugly.

Today the City is accusing members of the union of assaulting a pregnant woman.

The Union
denying the accusation




There is no excuse
under any circumstances
for vandalism of public or private property
or intimidation of the public.


The city will take every step necessary in the courts
with the police
or with the Labour Relations Bureau to ensure that the public
and out exempt staff are protected from this sort of behaviour.




Now the Union says the allegations are a desperate attempt to shift the focus away from the bargaining table.

The Vancouver Police Department are aware of the allegations.

No charges are pending.

Civic Strike Time Lines

Vancouver Civic Strikes follow a predictable order of events.
  • Week 1 Posturing
    • Argue reasonableness of position
  • Week 2 Posturing
    • Question character of the opposition
  • Weeks 3 & 4
    • Media stories on strike impact and growing public frustration
  • Weeks 5 & 6
    • Public / business pressure forces both sides to the table
Remember, this is a personal grudge match between two sets of negotiators. It will take outside intervention / pressure to bring them together and bargain.

Spin Control Step 2

If one's position fails to persuade attack the character of your opponent.

Jerry Dubrovolny infers but can not prove that city employees have slashed tires on park board and manager's trucks after the fireworks.

On a disturbing note - the City of Vancouver claims a pregnant woman was allegedly pushed by a CUPE member outside a city office while renewing a business license. A police complaint has been filed but no further information has been made available by the city or the Vancouver Police Department.

CUPE statement re alleged incident on CUPE picketline
[July 31, 2007 01:14 PM]
We have been advised of an alleged incident that took place outside the Vancouver Animal shelter yesterday at 2:00pm involving a couple crossing the picket-line and a group of all-female CUPE picketers.

The police were called to the location and after an investigation, did not lay any charges. An ambulance also arrived and left without any patients.

It is unfortunate that city is taking advantage of this first picket-line complaint to escalate tensions between the city and its 5,500 employees. We urge the public to encourage the city to return to the bargaining table to bring a speedy resolution to this labour dispute.

Richmond, Delta, Burnaby, Uh Oh

BURNABY (NEWS1130) - City workers in Burnaby now have a tentative agreement. The union is recommending the deal and a vote is expected later in the week. Burnaby city council also still has to vote on the agreement.

CUPE 23 President Rick Kotar said they were able to work out a deal directly with the city, and that talks went better than with the GVRD Labour Relations Bureau. Kotar said they would not release details of the deal until after the member ratification, but that it does build on agreements reached in Richmond and Delta.

CUPE BC president Barry O'Neill said this could spell the beginning of the end for the Bureau. O’Neill referred to the rigid bargaining mandate imposed by the Bureau on all Lower Mainland communities.

Monday, July 30, 2007

First Richmond, Now Delta, Uh Oh

The Law of Unanticipated Consequences is at work. The Vancouver city management and the current NPA party act as they are the god-parent of the GVRD. The perspective is a continual irritant to neighbouring cities but Vancouver appears to be getting its comeuppance.

First Mayor Sullivan floated the UBC extension of the Millenium Line at the expense of the Evergreen Line to Coquitlam Centre. Idea shot down by Translink and surrounding cities.

Then came the Riverview Lands (it's in Coquitlam) and the musing Mayor expressing how it would benefit Vancouver. Rich Coleman, Minister For Housing and the Mayor of Coquitlam pointedly tell the Mayor to butt out.

Finally labour dispute settlements. No one is seeking Vancouver's advice except to avoid the example set by the musing Mayor and his management team. Instead Richmond has settled and at 10:45pm July 30, 2007 Delta settles.

Delta settles, no end in sight in Vancouver

Darah Hansen and Jonathan Woodward, Vancouver Sun

Published: Monday, July 30, 2007 10:45pm

Vancouver Sun
Municipal workers in Delta, following in Richmond’s footsteps, reached a tentative contract agreement Monday, but strikes in Vancouver and North Vancouver entered their second full week with no end in sight.

The Delta deal is a carbon copy of the Richmond agreement, extending five years with raises totaling 17.5 per cent, said Darryl Robinson, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 454.

Robinson said the deal took months of intense — and often tense — negotiations.
( ed. The City of Vancouver averages 2.5 hours of negotiations and then quits. Perhaps Mr. Dubrovolny requires the negotiator's equivalent of Viagra to assist with his endurance.)

“We looked at the Richmond template, and it was the first breakout of a 39-month pattern,” Robinson said, referring to controversies throughout the region about the length of municipal workers’ contracts.

He said the tentative contract also contains “a lot of the term packages and the other wages and improvements our people were seeking.”

If the deal had not been struck Monday, Robinson said his 800-member local planned to serve Delta with strike notice.

“We were clear that if we didn’t get an agreement today we’d get out strike notice,” he said.

The GVRD Labour Relations Bureau, which has been helping most municipalities with contract talks, didn’t figure prominently in the final negotiations, Robinson said.

(ed. The GVRD Labour Relations Bureau (GVRD LRB) appears to be a further obstacle inhibiting the gritty slog of negotiating.

"We don't understand why CUPE members are on strike, especially considering that employees are losing approximately two percent of their annual salary each week."
GVRD LRB chair Stewart Peddemors. - Burnaby New Westminster News Leader 26 July 2007 A7

“Most of the progress we’d made prior to today was directly with our employer,” he said.

Vancouver Coerces Richmond ??????

BC Labour Relations Decision B149/2007 July 13, 2007

II Background

Local 15 submits that the City intervened in collective bargaining between the City of Richmond (“Richmond”) and two CUPE locals to “pressure” Richmond to break off collective bargaining as part of a “plot” designed to require members of Local 15 to vote on the City’s final offer proposal.

III Decision


I find there is no violation of the Code relating to the alleged “interference” by way of the City allegedly intervening with respect to collective bargaining between Richmond and the two CUPE locals for the following reasons. First of all, there are no particulars provided of the alleged “plot” by the City. This claim is based solely on the assertion that a member of Richmond’s bargaining team told a representative of the two CUPE locals that the City had “pressured” Richmond City Council. No particulars regarding the nature or alleged circumstances upon which the allegation is based are advanced.

In any event, on the facts alleged it is not at all apparent, even if it did occur, how it is asserted that would constitute an unfair labour practice or otherwise breach the Code.

As has been noted by the Board on numerous occasions, collective bargaining often includes elements of pressure or leverage. On the facts alleged, it would be entirely open to draw another inference than that posited by Local 15, i.e., that this was simply an attempt by the City to maintain a tactically advantageous collective bargaining position.

(25 )
I find this element of the application to be without merit and accordingly, it is dismissed.


(27 )
For the reasons set out above, Local 15’s application is dismissed.



The Fog of Strikes

Since talks broke down between CUPE 15 and the City the picket rumour mill is in full swing:
  • City of Vancouver will not consider the wages and benefits of the Richmond deal
  • City of Vancouver attempted to force Richmond to stall accepting the 18.5% proposal
    • Vancouver believed that the Richmond agreement would undercut Vancouver
News Media Report
  • CUPE 15 requested between 21% - 30% wage increase over 5 years
  • Jerry Dubrovolny is quoted that union requested 30% increase over 5 years

Lost Leverage

Strikes, like federal elections, are called when it is believed that there is a strategic advantage.

Garbage and the Fireworks at English Bay were considered prime levers.

Vancouver has densified. Single family homes are being replaced by condos and City of Vancouver garbage services are being replaced by private contractors. Local landfill operations may be behind picket lines but BC is a large province and alternatives can be found. Granted only one week has passed but if landfills are open in other cities there is no chance for large volumes of trash to accumulate.


CUPE 1004 and BC CUPE truly expected that the Fireworks Festival would create a beach front landfill. The mess would demonstrate the importance of outside workers to Vancouver. The strategy was obvious and insulting. Citizens disdain being held hostage and therefore volunteers were out on the beaches at 5:30am. London Drugs gave out garbage bags that people could return to bins at their stores. Private businesses stepped up and assisted.

The CUPE strike gave Vancouver's heart a civic jump start.

Predictably the president of Local 1004, Michael Jackson, spouted rhetoric stating that City Managers should have been left to clean the beaches alone. English Bay and Kits are the backyard for many. Why would they allow their backyard to degenerate into a landfill.?


GlobalTV did manage to interview one disgruntled manager who claimed that "garbage was placed strategically so seagulls could further spread trash across the beach." Seagulls, apparently, require assistance in spreading trash. My guess is the Wilcox Group has had a sit down chat and his next quote will be:

The citizens of Vancouver have got the message. Pack in pack out. It could be better but we appreciate the effort that the Fireworks audience has made in keeping our beaches clean.

CUPE, though, will have to consider new levers in order to maintain its relevance to the general public. Public service unions do not generate sympathy but they still must maintain a positive public appearance before, during and after a labour dispute. If not, further privatization grows as an acceptable option.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Negotiating Tactics

One possible explanation for the haphazard negotiations is a clash of negotiating styles.

CUPE is doing the traditional approach of ask for more than you expect to get and start with the easiest issues first.

City of Vancouver, however, is taking the Spice Girl's approach. "Tell me what you want. What you really, really want?" Additionally they are starting with the toughest issues first - wages & benefits.

I do find the City of Vancouver both mischievous and naive. Initially they had proposed a reduction in benefits (health, dental, employee savings plan) as a means to develop a Long Term Disability program.

because the reduction of benefits appears as a claw back and hostility from the last strike (2000) is still evident. Good will is lacking, especially among City Hall staff and CUPE 1004 members. The high strike mandates of 93.5% from the inside workers (CUPE 15) and 97% from the outside workers (CUPE 1004) was the result.

Good will was degraded further as the Mayor of Vancouver continued stating that the union, therefore city staff, wish to hold the City hostage over the Olympics. He then asked the same people he has now described as extortionists to accept his final offer. An 89% rejection was the response.

because the City of Vancouver will now say we removed the benefits package changes from the negotiations. Now the union must reciprocate. It was a non-starter. Claiming good faith is a good sound bite but lacks real substance.

CUPE has challenges too. How much is too much? How do you please both old school trade unionists and the new young professionals? How important is seniority vs a meritocracy approach. Hiring has shifted from seniority to a standardized method measuring skills, knowledge and abilities.

CUPE, unfortunately and predictably, will argue seniority forever.

Instead a balance between the value of seniority and importance of a meritocracy must be sought. The union's role is to ensure that the language of a new contract prevents manipulation of job descriptions. Meritocracy can be used to hire a manger's favourite bypassing existing staff with the requisite skills. Seniority reduces the incentive of the post baby boomer generation to view the city as a viable career option as most upper level positions will not open until the boomers retire - which given current trends will not be soon.

Normally I am optimistic but one last element of negotiations dampens my hopes.

It is personal.

The same people meet across the table from each other over grievances, complaints and contract talks. Naturally, players on both sides, begin to see their role not as negotiators but as actors in personal dramas or in competition.

If talks remain the realm of the personal there will be no negotiated settlements.

On Again Off Again

High School romance best describes the on again off again negotiations of CUPE and the City of Vancouver. The talks started with high expectations but end abruptly with accusations and recrimination.

As a Picketing Peon I am no more informed than the general public. News reports and reading the rumour tea leaves are what I have to depend upon. The union will send out someone to do the rah rah stuff and talk about how the city is attempting to screw us. While the city contends that union staff are simply sheep following a blind shepherd.

Either way we don't truly know what is happening. Case in point wages. Did the city only offer 9.75% over 39 months? Depends who you believe. This current failed talks - was the city open to the Richmond deal or as the city contends was the union seeking a 30% increase in wages and benefits?

Again I don't know and there is no credible source of information. Picketers and the general public are now in the midst of full media spin cycle.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wilcox Group

Mayor Sullivan's Keystone cop negotiating tactics has finally dug a hole so deep no one can hear him and his NPA colleagues seem unwilling to provide back up.

The Mayor has failed at the two most basic roles of a politician during a labour dispute.

1. Be consistent. "39 months is my final offer." "5 years is acceptable."

2. Say as little as possible - especially if you can not follow rule number one.

Mayor Sullivan has failed on both points. It is not surprising then that the GVRD and the City of Vancouver have employed The Wilcox Group as a countermeasure to the Mayor's ill-timed and inconsistent ramblings. The Wilcox Group is based out of Toronto and Vancouver.

As their home page explains

"Wilcox Group is one of Canada's largest national independent crisis, corporate communications and issues management firms.

We are the guardians, protectors and salvagers of your reputation, and we take that responsibility seriously. In fact, we see ourselves as an extension of your management team.

Many blue chip clients come to Wilcox Group for our issues management expertise; but they become long-standing clients for our exceptional corporate strategies and outstanding client service.

Their strategy is personified by Jerry Dubrovolny. His has a measured, calm presentation and stays on script. A script that he does not write but delivers without any hint of emotional attachment. He only slipped up once when sarcastically replying he was sorry that the union's feelings were hurt when he left a meeting without saying good bye.

The presentation may be boring but it is consistent. In this age of video editing & Youtube consistency is the gold standard.

Over the next couple of postings I'll review what items are up for negotiating. More than wages and contract length there are issue which would give the city greater flexibility in hiring and pay schedules but also limit the role of the union.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Civic Strike Tango

Tune of Cell Block Tango - Chicago Soundtrack

Port Moody



Uh Oh



39 Months
My final offer.
That is all I have to give.
If you'd have been there.
If you had read it.

I betcha you would have done the same.

I saw Sam Sullivan
being interviewed on TV.
He is Vancouver's Mayor,
a politican . . . plaintive
he was always telling
a new story.
39 months final offer.
I don't negotiate.
The strike is not a priority.
Then Richmond settled.
I guess you can say
he saw the light.
60 months is possible.
In fact, I floated this idea weeks ago.
Uh huh.

Port Moody



Uh Oh



5 years is ok
Richmond has settled
I only have myself to blame.
I'll just change my story
People won't notice.

I betcha you would have done the same!

Port Moody



Uh Oh



I only have myself to blame.
I'll just change my story
People won't notice.

I betcha you would have done the same!

Sam's Song

Olivia Newton-John
(John Farrar/Hank Marvin/Don Black)

Oh Sam, Sam, you know where I am
Come around and talk awhile
I need your smile
You need a shoulder
Oh Sam, Sam, you know where I am
And the door is open wide
Come on inside
Longing to see you
Oh Sam, Sam, you know where I am

Oh Sam, you know where I am
Oh Sam, ooh Sam
You know, you know
You know where I am

Monday, July 23, 2007

Age of Aquarius - (Aries actually)

Your Horoscope
Vancouver Sun July 23, 2007

ARIES (March 21 - April 19)
Make whatever changes are required with your investments. Money is heading your way and the promise of a contract or settlement looks good. Whatever you put your heart and soul into, you will reap the rewards.

Hey it doesn't hurt hoping.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Pop, Pop Music

Great take on the strike. Posted on Pop Culture Institute.


"Before it's history, it's pop culture."

Walking in Circles

Strike Pay
  • Payments from CUPE BC commence on the third (3rd) calendar day of the strike. At the termination (end) of the strike, two additional days are paid.
  • Weekly benefits are $50 based on $10 a day X 5 days = $50. Periods of less than one week are pro-rated on a daily basis ($10 each).
  • CUPE National’s strike pay begins on the 10 th calendar day of strike and is $40.00 per day to a maximum of $200 for at least 20 hours of picketing or other assigned duties for the calendar week.
  • The combined total of strike pay after day nine (9) is $50 per day to a maximum of $250 per week.

Hot in the City

Instructions for Union Members for Monday, July 23

CUPE 15 served 72-hour strike notice on Friday, July 20 at 8:00 am and will be on strike as of 8:00 am Monday, July 23.


Money Money Money

All the things i could do
If i had a little money
It's a rich man's world

$77.00 an hour
  • the average hourly wage of each city staff person ( 600 people ) who will be working during the strike
  • average work day 12 - 15 hours, 6 - 7 days a week

Tainted Love

5:00pm July 20, 2007

CUPE: Do you wanna talk?

CITY: No. Got nothing to talk about.

CUPE: C'mon. I've been waiting for you.

CUPE: What do you want me to do?

CITY: You know what I want.

CUPE: Can't do it. I'm going to pack my things and go.