Thursday, August 30, 2007

CUPE vs City - It's about Ideololgy 01

The number of issues which divide are minimal.
  • Health Benefits
  • Job Security
  • Auxiliary Scheduling
  • External Job Posting
  • 2010 Letter of Agreement
The role of the public sector in the 21st century defines this dispute.
  • Seniority
  • Merit
  • External job postings
  • Cost of services
  • Private Contracts
This post will detail Health Benefits and Job Security.

Health Benefits (simplest of the negotiation challenges)

The City has offered to:
  • increase the vision care option from "$350.00 per person per twenty-four (24) month period" to "$400.00 per person per twenty-four (24) month period"
CUPE has requested that:
  • the increase be "$500.00 per person per twenty-four month period"
  • Laser Eye surgery to a maximum of $750.00
  • include implants within the Dental Services Plan, paying for %50 of the approved schedule of fees
Job Security

CUPE's Offer:
  • The employer agrees that no employees shall be laid off as a result of contracting out work or services.
Why have negotiations stopped? Here it is. How do two party's come to a negotiated settlement when there is no middle ground?

Paul Faoro, CUPE 15 president, argues that the staff are owed the right to be retrained and hired in a different division within the City. He fails to mention that a junior staff person will be bumped out of their job. Someone still loses.

CUPE argues that staff have invested their life into serving the city and are therefore owed this protection. The argument is no longer valid as the City benefits package and pay package reward the investment in time every two weeks.

What the City should offer is market driven retraining and job hunt skills. If a City job is available the same test of skills, knowledge and abilities that every applicant is subject to should apply.

The City also argues that it must be fiscally responsible. Gary Mason's Aug. 30 Globe and Mail column best sums up the City's position.
"If the city can have it's buildings cleaned by a private sector firm for two-thirds of what it's costing to have union workers do the same job, then it needs the flexibility to contract out that work."
CUPE would respond that such thinking is the start of a slippery slope and as such is anti-union. I disagree.

Public vs Private is consistently argued in black and white terms. Unions have personalized the conflict into "us vs them."

Realistically, the rigidity inherent in union systems are no more beneficial to the taxpayers then the extra charges inherent with contracted services. Consider a cell phone bill to understand the negative potential of service contracts.

Neither union nor private sector should hold the monopoly on public sector services.

It must be a balance.

As long as the CUPE leadership are adamant about "no layoffs" there is no reason to negotiate.

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