Thursday, August 9, 2007

On the 6th Day..,

6 days of talks,
And what do you get?
Another day older,
And deeper in debt.

Actually deeper in, um, press releases as CUPE and the City of Vancouver compete to win the hearts and minds of Vancouver.

From CUPE at 6:39pm Thursday comes the following headline:

No progress made at civic talks: CUPE lifts media blackout to inform public and members

The City of Vancouver counters with:

CUPE walks out of negotiations with City: Unions refuse settlements similar to District of North Vancouver best describes the current state of relations.
"The past six days have been déjà vu," Faoro said. "Last time we met with this employer, they spent two hours and 22 minutes out of two days actually meeting with us. The rest of the time, they caucused amongst themselves.

"This time, it's worse. Out of a possible six days, we spent four hours and 13 minutes with the employer," Foaro said.

But Gerry Dobrovolny, a spokesman for the City of Vancouver, told CBC News "that's absolutely ridiculous."

"We've spent five full days. The city had 23 people on the negotiating team. We had five general managers and the deputy city manager."

Dobrovolny said much of the bargaining happened in back rooms, with one-on-one meetings in hallways.

He said it's the union that has walked away from the bargaining table.

CBC News 7:31 pm
CUPE is attempting to portray itself as the honest broker. If CUPE is to be believed they are the jilted partner who has been stood up.

CUPE 391 - the library workers have been treated as a side note in this dispute. This is their first strike action in 77 years as a union. The majority female membership has pay equity as their core issue. Always difficult territory to negotiate as it requires bargainers to quantify the simple phrase "equal pay for equal work." Simple to state, hard to measure

"We are extremely frustrated," said Alex Youngberg, president of Local 391, which represents 800 library workers in Vancouver."The employer has clearly stated that they have no interest in negotiating any of our key issues, like pay equity. This is despite recently ratified pay-equity gains made in Burnaby. We can't reach a collective agreement with this kind of stonewalling," she said in a news release.

The City of Vancouver, predictably, responds with frustration.
" We're angry, the CUPE locals are unwilling to adopt the kind of settlements that other municipalities have been able to reach and that means Vancouver residents will continue to suffer the effects of the CUPE strike."

Dobrovolny said CUPE negotiators have not moved on what he calls costly benefit demands and language restricting the City's ability to provide services efficiently to people in Vancouver. The end result is that Vancouver's inside, outside, and library workers are still on strike.

News1130 7:50pm
Jerry Dubrovolny's calm commentary lacked conviction and substance as he re-stated the City of Vancouver's perspective. CUPE's press conference had each speaker provide an example of how the City of Vancouver was stonewalling negotiations.

The City simply countered with the amount of staff available but no commentary on what the City offered to break the deadlock. The City consistently appears as if it is waiting for an offer it finds acceptable and that they are not willing to make any counter offers. This is a substantial weakness in the City of Vancouver's media spin.

Both sides, though aggravated, remained focussed, clear and concise in their attempt to persuade Vancouver residents.

Advantage CUPE
  • persuasive content
  • believable emotion
Disadvantage City of Vancouver
  • repetitive content
  • appear to have made no counter offers
Paying the price
  • City staff and residents as both are equally ignored by negotiators

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