Monday, July 30, 2007

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.

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