Sunday, September 30, 2007

Jurassic Park Board - 02

The Rationale
In 1962, Hurricane Frieda blew down 3,000 trees in Stanley Park. This storm cleared sufficient space in the area to allow for construction of the Stanley Park Miniature Railway, which opened in 1964. The 20 gauge railway track is approximately one mile long and winds through towering cedar and fir trees, over trestles, through tunnels and past ponds and streams.

The major windstorm in December 2006 blew down a number of trees in this area, and others had to be taken down, creating additional clearings in the forest. Many of these fallen trees have been left in place on the forest floor, which adds to the creative opportunities for an exhibit. About 200,000 people ride on the Miniature Railway annually.

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS No.P2007-13, Stanley Park Dinosaur Experience, pg A-1

Miniature railway could use a triceratops or two

But that's a minority view: Public opinion is running against park board proposal for dinosaurs in Stanley Park

Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun

Published: Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Georgia Straight comments on strike

A Strike about nothing throttles residents

Commentary by Charlie Smith
Sept 27, 2007


But let's not kid ourselves about what is really extending this ugly strike. It's money. By its own very conservative estimate, the City saved over $1.3 million during the seven-week dispute in 2000. Gross savings were close to $11 million, but city staff claimed a whopping $9.6 million in lost revenues and strike costs.

Is it any wonder that city managers are placing such emphasis on parking enforcement this time around, rather than keeping community centres open for the kids? Is it any wonder that senior brass don't seem too concerned about needles in parks and no talking books for the blind? If you're confused about why this strike about nothing is taking so long to settle, just follow the money, and you'll have your answer.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

1 Burn Barrel + 2 Propane Tanks

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - Vancouver Fire Department was forced to deal with a small but potentially dangerous fire tonight. A barrel was burning at the Manitoba Works Yard, but here's the scary part. There were two propane tanks sitting on top of that barrel.

Captain Rob-Jones Cook with Vancouver Fire isn't sure how they got there unless someone deliberately left them and that's something investigators will have to determine.

Five trucks were called out to the blaze and crews had to cool the tanks down so they didn't explode. The cities' Manitoba Works Yard is currently behind picket lines.

And in a separate fire, this time in Stanley Park - another tree erupted into flames earlier this evening. It was in a similar area of the park to the two previous tree fires. Fire investigators there are trying to figure out if there's a firebug at work.


No more burn barrels on Vancouver CUPE picketlines

[September 30, 2007 09:10 PM]

In the interests of public safety, the safety of CUPE members on the picket line and in accordance with city of Vancouver by-laws prohibiting the burning of open fires, CUPE 15, CUPE 391 and CUPE 1004 will move from the traditional practice of staying warm on the picket line with burn barrels, to staying warm by using alternate outdoor heating methods, such as commercial propane heaters and/or barbeques. We are making this change as quickly as possible on all of the over 70 picket lines currently up in the city of Vancouver.


VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - Vancouver firefighters have been busy dealing with a number of illegal burns in the city. Captain Rob Jones-Cook with the Vancouver fire department said, "It's a long labour history thing in the City of Vancouver, its been around much long than I have. When people are on strike in bad weather, the barrels are lit so they can keep warm."

Jones-Cook said they do have to enforce the bylaw so striking workers might want to look into using commercial propane heaters. The department dealt with a small but potentially dangerous fire at the Manitoba Works Yard on Saturday night, and in that situation there were two propane tanks sitting on top of the barrel.

CUPE is heeding the fire department's request. In a press release issued late Sunday night, the union said burn barrels will no longer be used by their members to keep warm on the picket lines.

Mediator's Recommendations Delayed

BARGAINING BULLETIN #24 - September 28, 2007

BARGAINING 2007 Update on Bargaining Re: Mediator's Recommendations

We have just been advised by Mediator Brian Foley that his recommendations for settlement may be delayed until possibly as late as October 8, 2007.

He has committed to do everything possible to get them to the parties earlier if possible. Members are advised to monitor the CUPE 15 website ( for further information as it becomes available. It is important to note that CUPE 15 has made our submission to Mr. Foley on September 24th, and CUPE 1004 made theirs on September 26, 2007. We understand that the City of Vancouver will be meeting with Mr. Foley over the weekend. Mr. Foley is also meeting with CUPE 391 and the Vancouver Public Library the week of October 1, 2007.

Your bargaining committee is committed to ensuring that a copy of the mediator’s recommendations for settlement will be available as soon as possible after we receive them. We will also ensure that you will have an opportunity to ask questions and to review the recommendations with your bargaining committee prior to voting.

Stay strong on the lines!

On behalf of your Bargaining Committee:

Keith Graham (Chief Negotiator)
Peter Stary (Chair)
Jeannette Black
Christine Boyd
Karl Leonhard
Betty McGee
Jordan Parente
Donald Rounding

Friday, September 28, 2007

Jurassic Park Board

God love the Vancouver Park Board.

I thought it would be a slow Friday until I read today's Vancouver Province, Sun, Courier and

Park Board management has put out a sixty page request for proposals to locate 25 - 30 life-size animatronic roaring dinosaurs along the tracks of Stanley Park's miniature railway. After 8 years of re-introducing native plants back into Stanley Park we now wish to offer a touch of Drumheller.

Tourist Ylang Nguyen was shocked that animatronic robots might soon be part of the Stanley Park experience.

"We came to see nature -- that's why we flew all the way to B.C. from England," she said. "The last thing we want to see is robots."

Vancouver Province

Easy Jurassic jokes abounded today. It was recommended that Park Board consider the following less expensive Jurassic exhibits:

  • Susan Mundick, Park Board General Manager;
  • Lori Mackay, Director, Queen Elizabeth District;
  • Park Commissioner Marty "The Clear Cutter" Zlotnik; and
  • Park Commissioner Heather "I am not in a conflict" Holden.
Park Board senior management, for the past 8 years, have developed a jurrasic approach to Vancouver's community centres.

Community Centre development was a North America wide post WWII movement. They were meant to recognize the efforts of fallen soldiers and provide a balance of social and recreational opportunities for neighbourhood residents.

Now the goal is strictly recreational. The Vancouver Park Board "does not do social work" is General Manager Susan Mundick's constant refrain. What she really means is let's download social programs onto local non-profits.

Each community centre has a non-profit board which generates revenue through designing programs whose revenue subsidizes neighbourhood social/recreational programs for children, youth, adults and seniors.

Over the past three years Park Board has removed itself from child care (daycare / preschool) leaving the local non-profits, Community Associations, to pick up the costs.

These Community Associations can be strong and well organized or descend into a morass of myopia, fief building and nepotism. Most are strong and community focussed.

When a community program does generate significant revenue Park Board managers request a significant share of the profit. If the Community Association disagrees it becomes next to impossible to work with Park Board senior managers unless a photo opportunity presents itself.

Further, Park Commissioner Marty Zlotnik has mused about term limits. Two terms are required for Community Association board members to understand Park Board operations and politics. What Commissioner Zlotnik wants is to clear cut the experienced Community Association members and replace them with naive new members who will readily agree with whatever Park Commissioners recommend.

The tensions between Community Associations and Park Board management has come to a head over what is called the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA). It's the rulebook which governs the relationship between the Park Board & Community Associations (non-profits).

The JOA, dated and requiring updates, has exacerbated Vancouver's east - west divide. The process involved bringing the Community Association presidents together on how to best jointly operate community centres.

Unfortunately these meetings were not well facilitated and presidents from east side centres felt marginalized by both the facilitator and their west side counterparts.

The result - an east side Presidents' table. When management representation was requested they were rebuffed though approximately 2/3rds of all community centres are on Vancouver's east side.

Park Board management's jurassic approach to community centres and their non profit Community Associations has resulted in perpetuating and stratifying the growing gap between Vancouver's recreational haves from its have nots.

Weekend Ventures

CUPE members will have to be on their best best behaviour this weekend. Media crews will be out covering:
  • Orpheum Picket Line 6:00pm - 8:30pm (Saturday)
    • CUPE has requested a large turnout - CUPE hoping to surround theatre
    • Pickets can not block the stage entrance on Seymour but can picket entrances on Smythe and Granville
    • Challenge: can weary picketers not be drawn in to pointless arguments and taunts
  • "Word on the Street/Strike" Sunday 10:00am - 6:00pm
Visitors to Vancouver's favourite literature and literacy festival, the Word on the Street, will be delighted to discover Word on the Strike, an upbeat special event presented by striking CUPE 391 library workers at Library Square on Sunday, September 30 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. CUPE 15 has also been instrumental in organizing and supporting the event.

Capitalizing on the diverse talents and creativity of Vancouver's library and civic workers, Word on the Strike, held along side of Word on the Street, is intended as a complementary event featuring a diverse range of information tables, haiku, face painting, a puppet show, origami, buttons, and much more.

CUPE Press Release

No Left Turn

Frustration with the local news media speculating that CUPE members sabotaged the City's traffic control system was brewing on the picket line today. Many wondered if a slander lawsuit is an option as they believe this was a concerted media effort to discredit picketers.

The conspiracy minded believe the City's exempt staff inadvertently reset the system's timer and that the sabotage story was designed to deflect blame and frustration.

Tom Timm, City Engineer, handled the media interviews perfectly. He said what the City knew, didn't know and why police had been called. Mr. Timm has been the best City management spokesperson throughout this strike.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

10 Weeks = 1 Prickly Picketer

My last couple of entries have had an angry edge. Tomorrow marks 10 weeks of picketing. Two and one half months. This week's battle - prevent depression from kicking in.

I wasn't successful.

Long naps, little personal interaction and an overarching anger with everyone - City Management, CUPE, and the fool who called AM730 to claim CUPE was responsible for the no left turn signaling problem that hit Vancouver this morning.

If ever I've seen the collective spirit of a group collapse it was after that news story ran. Emotions swung from hoping it was not true to rage if it were.

If the person responsible is a CUPE member he is truly an IDIOT a FOOL and simply a CRIMINAL.

The City with its perpetual ultimatums combined with CUPE's ideology that privatization is evil and the public sector is the epitome of virtue is infuriating.

Now I am pricky, depressed and infuriated. I can hear you all saying "Get over It."

Thats exactly what I'm doing.

My head is still foggy with lingering depression but I've made some great discoveries. I've found an open office environment where small business creatives work and network. It was invigorating to walk into an office where people thrive on challenge and creativity instead of an employer and union that prefer the status quo or stifle new ideas under the guise of extended process.

Opportunities to write, manage special events, and develop online communities have opened up. It is an exciting new world for me without the political nonsense inherent in Vancouver City Hall.

Mediator's Proposal Expected Tuesday

Brian Foley's non-binding "enhance mediation" is apparently expected Tuesday morning. Voting should occur next week on Thursday or Friday.

Approval requires a simple majority of 50% + 1 by CUPE members. City management & Metro (GVRD) Vancouver Labour Bureau must also approve the vote.

If all goes well city staff could return to work after Thanksgiving.

It depends on how both sides respond to mediator's take on "No Layoffs Due to Contracting Out, " Auxiliary Scheduling, and the 2010 Olympic Agreement between staff and management.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mindless? Lockstep? Not Bloody Likely.

I enjoy reading comment threads in other forums. Flamers refer to all union members as "mindless," "walking in lockstep" or my personal favourite "parasites of taxpayers."

Colorful. Entertaining. Ill informed. Dumb.

Strikes are frustrating for everyone but serve a purpose. When negotiating a contract you need leverage to garner the best deal. Many believe that the City, as an employer, acted in good faith.

Unfortunately, the take it or leave it approach to bargaining only generated strike votes of 94 - 96% approval. Unheard of levels of support. Historically most strike mandates fall within the 65 - 80% approval rate.

Why were staff so motivated to support strike action? Beyond Sam Sullivan's comments it was the attempt to claw back benefits that they hypocritically promoted in their application to Canada's Top 100 Employers (2007 Edition).

People were striking to keep their benefits and as noted before over contract length. CTV, Tuesday Sept. 25, reported that it will take 2 years for staff to recoup the money lost in this strike. What the media can't comprehend, or won't admit, is that 39 months ends 90 days after the Olympics. There is no benefit for the employees to bargain at that time. Olympics, on average, generate debt.

Thankfully reporters and talk show host don't negotiate contracts for others.

Insanity, as defined by Benjamen Franklin, best defines the City's negotiating style.
Do the same thing over and over hoping for a different result.
After 11 months of one way time limited ultimatums and 8 weeks of strike action the City management team finally realized that bargaining actually requires two parties exchanging proposals. It started, in true Vancouver style, over coffee. Finally in week 9 mediators were brought in.

Anyone who has read this blog over time will know I am no fan of CUPE's:
  • No Layoffs due to Contracting Out;
  • Auxiliary Seniority (CUPE 15); or
  • it's 2010 Olympic language;
but, one way, take or leave it ultimatums have one result only - prolonged strikes.

Once the Port Moody template of 39 months and 9.75% was replaced by the 18.76% compounded over 5 years (Surrey, Richmond, North Vancouver, Delta, White Rock) why did the City not apply for non-binding mediation ( or as they call it "enhanced mediation") then?

This nearly 11 week marathon would probably have been over in weeks 3 or 4.

Library Update - Sept 26

Mediation with non-binding recommendations agreed to by Library and CUPE 391

[September 26, 2007 05:07 PM]

VANCOUVER – Following two days of mediation, Vancouver Public Library and CUPE Local 391 have agreed to an enhanced mediation process.

Within the next week, the representatives of the Library and CUPE 391 will provide mediator Brian Foley with verbal and written submissions on their respective views on the terms and conditions for renewing their collective agreement.

After considering those representations, mediator Foley will provide the Library and CUPE 391 with his non-binding recommendations for ending the strike.

The parties have agreed that they will then submit those recommendations to the library’s principals and the unions’ membership for acceptance or rejection by vote.

A media blackout will be in place until mediator Foley has issued his recommendations.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Managers Guide to What Not To Say 01

Received this comment:

Regarding what managers shouldn't say once the strike is over, two had stopped by the site I picket at a couple of weeks ago and whined about how hard it will be for them to book holidays because all of the managers will be wanting them right away. Please forgive those of us who hold no sympathy for their plight.

Why there are strikes?

A commentator directed me towards the Marginal Revolution blog which asks "Why there are strikes?"

Post Strike Garbage Services

Fraser Institute: Vancouver should contract out services to avoid strikes and save money
News 1130am -

Before the next civic contract expires in 2012 I would be surprised if the City is involved in any garbage or recycling services.

Listening to Christie Clark's CKNW program I learned that only two cities, Vancouver and New Westminster, maintain residential municipal garbage services. Condos, businesses and apartments in Vancouver already have private services. The strike's impact is especially blunted on the downtown peninsula and in Fairview Slopes.

Burnaby has not re-tendered it's high density garbage services and has returned to providing this as a municipal service. A caller stated that it was due to the profit potential for the City of Burnaby. Vancouver, he said, is losing money by contracting out.

From a strictly monetary view that may be correct but it lacks a labour / management perspective. The City has progressively eliminated CUPE's leverage with each strike.

Privatizing 100% of the garbage / recycling supply chain would give the city the upper hand in negotiations. Civic strikes are known as garbage strikes. If garbage was picked up during a strike would residents care how long the it lasted?

City Managers in Top 5% of Canadian Incomes

$89,000.00 marks the bottom end of the Top 5% of income earners in Canada.

This story generated many pointed comments as most managers would fall inside this income strata. Most pronounced was how the weakest link in interpersonal skills could end up as the General Manager for Human Resources with a $164,838.00 salary.

The distrust of certain, not all, managers is still quite evident. When the strike ends the one statement a manager should not say is:
This strike has been hard on all of us.
Any one who complains after making over $77.00/hour for the past 10 weeks will lose any and all respect of returning staff.

$300,000.00 marks the bottom end of the Top 1% of income earned in Canada.

City Manager Judy Rogers falls within this category. I don't begrudge her the amount. I would not want a job that regularly consumes 15 hours a day of navigating the inflated egos of politicians and the unrelenting demands of taxpayers and employees. CUPE has consistently complained about Ms Roger's pay but it is fair when comparing equal pay for equal work in other cities across Canada.

Check out's High Income Canadians

Stats Canada High-income Canadians

Why Relationship Management Matters

One of my favourite blogs explores relationships in contract negotiations by comparing the Edmonton Oilers with the Ottawa Senators.

CUPE Expects Mediator's Offer & Vote Next Week

BARGAINING BULLETIN #23 - September 25, 2007

Following three days of discussions with mediator Brian Foley, both CUPE Locals 15 and 1004 and the Employer agreed to an enhanced mediation process.

Your Bargaining Committee met with Mr. Foley on September 24 to review with him the outstanding issues between our Union and the Employer. He will now meet with both Local 1004 and with the Employer after which he will issue non-binding written recommendations for the settlement of both our and Local 1004’s labour disputes. All parties have agreed to submit the mediator’s recommendations to a vote.

We anticipate that Mr. Foley’s recommendations will be available some time next week. As soon as possible after we have received them, we will provide the recommendations to our members and schedule a membership vote. The decision on the recommendations will require a simple majority of ballots cast. No proxy voting can be permitted.

Vancouver’s City Council and the GVRD Labour Relations Bureau will also vote on the mediator’s recommendations.

Your Bargaining Committee asks all of our members to maintain the strong solidarity and support of your issues that you have demonstrated over the past weeks. We assure you that we are doing everything possible to achieve a positive resolution to this struggle.

On behalf of the City, Parks, Ray-Cam and Britannia Bargaining Committee:
Keith Graham (Chief Negotiator)
Peter Stary (Chair)
Jeannette Black
Christine Boyd
Karl Leonhard
Betty McGee
Jordan Parente
Donald Rounding

Monday, September 24, 2007

That Strike that Keeps on Taking

When this strike ends be prepared for a significant wait time as staff prepare / repair fields and rinks.

The malicious scattering of debris at Killarney Park highlighted other problems with that and other fields. Simply cutting the grass will not make the fields safe and playable. Killarney and other fields have holes and depressions which must be filled and then left to settle before they are safe for competitive sports.

Playing fields have to be cut, aerated, holes filled, rested, aerated again and more soil as fill settles before fields are ready for competitive play. Expect a month of preparation. That is if all the staff required to do the job are still working for the City.

Ice rinks, except for Britannia, had all their ice removed. Why Britannia's ice remains I don't know. It will take anywhere from 2 - 6 weeks to rebuild the ice in the remaining rinks (West End, Kerrisdale, Kitsilano, Riley Park & Sunset.) Killarney has been torn down and Trout Lake is scheduled for demolition as each will be a practice site for the 2010 Olympics. Minor Hockey programs will be placed under even greater scheduling pressure.

The 2 - 6 week time line presupposes no damage during ice removal or while rinks have sat empty. Sunset's ice rink will be a challenge as it is a sand floor and problems were uncovered when it was de-iced.

If the strike were to end this week playing fields and ice rinks would not be ready until mid to late October.

Killarney Youth Soccer Assn. Comment

KYSA respects all parties involved in the Vancouver civil strike and does NOT support any actions by soccer parents acting independently.

CUPE Press Release on Killarney Park

CUPE strongly condemns dumping of dangerous debris on sports field

[September 24, 2007 06:00 AM]

VANCOUVER - In response to reports that dangerous debris (nails, broken glass, concrete) has been dumped on a Vancouver sports field (Killarney), CUPE has issued the following statement:

CUPE strongly condemns the malicious dumping of dangerous debris on the Killarney sports field. Whoever has done this has seriously jeopardized public safety, including the safety of children who may be playing there and the safety of CUPE workers, who we hope will be mowing the lawns and maintaining the fields again shortly.

This civic dispute has been hard on everyone. However, there is no justification for endangering the life and safety of others.

CUPE members dedicate their working lives to serving the public, to making their communities clean, safe and enriching to individuals and families. Not being in a position to provide our quality civic services to our friends and neighbours in Vancouver is difficult for us, but it is unbearable to see our public spaces being purposefully made unsafe.

Like everyone, we look forward to the end of this civic dispute and restoration of civic services and in the meantime expect such malicious acts to be stopped immediately.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Enhanced Mediation

Friday it was announced that after three days of talking each side would agree to "enhanced mediation."

The City and CUPE will submit their respective positions to Brian Foley who as "enhanced mediator" will review and craft an enhanced non-binding agreement.

CUPE members (15 and 1004) will vote to either accept or reject the enhanced offer. City senior managers will review the enhanced proposal and decide whether it is acceptable.

Settlement of this dispute required third party intervention. I have believed that since the start of this strike.
Remember, this is a personal grudge match between two sets of negotiators. It will take outside intervention / pressure to bring them together and bargain. Civic Strike Time Lines - July 31

The endgame to this strike will be binding arbitration. CUPE 15 Bargainers Top 3 Issues - Aug. 21
It's not binding arbitration but at least a third party is now involved.

Mark Thompson, a professor emeritus at the Sauder School of Business at University of B.C astutely said in the Vancouver Sun article Vote coming in long-running civic strike:
Approving Foley's recommendations allows both sides to save face as well, said Thompson.

"It's non-binding, so neither side has to say, 'We knuckled under,'" he said.
The issues are ideological and personal. The wage and term component (18.76% compounded over 5 years) was the simple element of this dispute. Commentators like Bill Good and Christie Clark can't seem to wrap their heads around that. They instead repeat:
  • "whatever financial gains were won in the contract are now lost from the length of the strike."
Ideology drives this strike. CUPE believes that only public sector union members should work in publicly funded organizations. Privatization is portrayed as an evil which breaches the public trust.

Fear has ensured it's length. Professor Thompson notes that "each side is weary from the length of the strike" but with so much time and lost wages invested by those who believe their jobs will be privatized it will be difficult to accept an offer without "No Layoff's due to Contracting Out."

The City's initial "take it or leave it approach" and attempting to set Port Moody's 39 month / 9.75% as the regional template failed. Municipalities worked independent of Vancouver and struck deals with their unionized staff. Vancouver has not only ensured a rocky relationship with it's staff but has also lost significant political capital in the region as noted in the Vancouver Courier article Suburban soundoff.

City management faces the challenge of increased residential taxation, as directed by council, increased employment costs and the high cost of operating in Vancouver. Agreeing to CUPE's demand of "No Layoffs Due to Contracting Out" is not feasible. Flexibility is required. A mix of public and private staff where customer service and adaptability are the primary measures.

CUPE 15 auxiliaries must remain scheduled by talent and skill instead of by length of time served. Many of these jobs are entry level and provide opportunities for new young staff to get their foot in the door. The City, in it's last offer, did state that it would work with CUPE in identifying auxiliary positions that should be reclassified as regular part time or regular full time.

Reclassification of current employees is where the City can be flexible. The Vancouver Sun story Job reclassification is a sticky wicket describes how Strathcona Community Centre programmer Ron Suzuki has been working on job reclassification since 1997.

Mr. Suzuki is the type of employee a company wants. He raised, this year, $250,000.00 for low income families to participate in breakfast and recreational programs. If the City is concerned about retaining and attracting new staff then people like Mr. Suzuki should not be treated in such a callous manner.

I do believe that the enhanced mediation will succeed but the vote will be close.

When the enhanced offer is finally released I will review it and write what I believe will be the challenges for either side.

Remember even if CUPE 15 and 1004 vote to accept the enhanced offer the strike continues until CUPE 391 Library Workers accept their offer.

Friday, September 21, 2007

CUPE 15 and 1004 will Vote

Jonathan Woodwards article explains why the "enhanced mediation" process is vital for both sides of this dispute.

Vote coming in long-running civic strike

Jonathan Woodward
Vancouver Sun

Friday, September 21, 2007 [ 7:00pm]

As the civic workers strike enters its 65th day, the city is starting to look a bit grimy. Crows and other animals have picked apart the garbage bags from these overfilled trash bins beside an eastside elementary school. There is still no end in sight to the strike.

The stage was set today for a vote that could end the city's second-longest civic strike.

Negotiators for the city and two of its striking union locals - representing inside and outside workers - agreed today they will formally present their positions to private mediator Brian Foley next week. Foley will then write a series of non-binding recommendations, which city managers will consider and union leaders will take to their 5,000 striking members in a vote.

"This doesn't mean the garbage will get picked up, but this is our first commitment to get a vote," said Mark Thompson, a professor emeritus at the Sauder School of Business at University of B.C.

There's been no agreement that negotiators for the city or for CUPE locals 15 and 1004 will vote to endorse Foley's recommendations, Thompson said. But since both sides are weary with a strike that has dragged on since late July, it will be politically difficult not to support them, he said.

"[CUPE 1004 president] Mike Jackson [would] have to stand up in front of his members and say, 'Stay on strike,'" said Thompson.

"When you've been out for nine weeks, you'd better have a darn good argument," he said.

Approving Foley's recommendations allows both sides to save face as well, said Thompson.

"It's non-binding, so neither side has to say, 'We knuckled under,'" he said.

No dates were set, but the vote could happen in about two weeks.

Such a vote is decided by a simple majority of those voting, said Thompson, but there's no guarantee it will end the strike.

"What if one local votes yes and the other votes no?" he said. "There are lots of permutations here."

At 65 days and counting, Vancouver is approaching its longest municipal strike ever. Outside workers, including garbage collectors, went on strike on July 19, followed by their inside counterparts three days later.

Talks have broken down three times as both the union and the city appear to be at loggerheads on a half-dozen major issues, including the scheduling of auxiliary workers and whether a unionized member can be laid off if the city decides to contract out services to the private sector.

Last week, both sides entered mediated talks with Foley. As a private mediator, he has no powers under B.C.'s labour laws, but he can propose solutions if both sides agree.

While neither side could be reached for comment as they remained in a "media blackout," both sides referred to Foley's process as "enhanced mediation" in their respective statements.

Negotiators for Vancouver's striking library staff, CUPE Local 391, continued negotiating today under B.C. Labour Relations Board mediator Debbie Cameron.

Killarney Grass

CKNW reported at 4:15pm that parents from the Killarney Youth Soccer Association hired a contractor to cut the grass at the Kerr and East 49th field.

Joan Lichtman (41), Member at Large of the Killarney Youth Soccer Association Board, claims that CUPE pickets threatened the contractor. News1130 expands on the alleged threats.

CKNW reported the contractor denied he was threatened. He said he was simply informed that he was crossing a picket line and asked to stop working on the field.

The contractor stated he was unaware that the field was behind CUPE's picket line otherwise he wouldn't have done it.

Parents are now planning to mow the field tonight.


Soccer parents fail to bring out the mowers

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - The soccer practice for the Killarney Tigers went ahead, but no one brought their lawn mowers.

Soccer Mom Joan was trying to rally up concerned parents to take action on the soccer field and says many people didn't want to interfere with CUPE.

" There's a lot of people on the board of directors who didn't want to do this, despite the fact it's our field! It's frustrating, it's so frustrating, because all we want is for our kids to play soccer."

Joan says the group shelled out hundreds of dollars to pay a landscaper to mow the lawn at Killarney Oval but he couldn't finish the job because picketers threatened to come back with more people if he didn't go voluntarily.

She says last minute planning is partly to blame for lack of action on her part.


Frustrated moms want Vancouver field mowed
Striking workers won't allow cleanup, unless done by managers mowers

Jonathan Woodward, Vancouver Sun
Published: Saturday, September 22, 2007

VANCOUVER - Angry soccer moms say they'll defy Vancouver's striking civic unions and mow a neglected eastside soccer field this morning.

Striking groundskeepers are "holding our kids hostage" by letting the fields degenerate and stopping the soccer season from getting off the ground, said Joan Lichtmann, 41.

When the soccer moms hired a contractor to mow the city-maintained field at Killarney Park Friday morning, he was approached by picketing workers and told to leave, she said. "We've got our field still not cut, and the worst part is that you can't fill the holes," she said. "This is what is going to break our kids' ankles when they try to play."

The parents plan to return with their own mowers today at about 8:30 a.m., she said.

But CUPE 1004 president Mike Jackson, who represents outside workers, including grounds-keepers, said his workers won't back down.

"I understand what they're trying to accomplish, but if they cut the field, it prolongs the strike by letting the city know people are taking the services upon themselves," he said. The parents should complain to city managers and get them to mow it, he said.

But the Killarney oval field has other problems,
according to senior boys rugby player Jonathon Wong.

The 16-year-old was livid when he and his coach, John Falcos, headed to the field for their first practice and found piles of rocks and 15-centimetre nails strewn over the field, which he believes were designed to stop any mowing or playing.

They spent half an hour cleaning the field on Wednesday, but when they started to play they found still more nails.

"It was too dangerous, so we called it quits," he said. His team, the Killarney Cougars, is now playing on a different Vancouver field.

Falcos also teaches girls' soccer, and said he has spent $288 renting soccer field space in Richmond because the girls can't play in Vancouver. "The fields are in bad enough shape as it is, but this strike has made it a lot worse," said Falcos.

Jackson said his workers had nothing to do with the nails.

"That's catastrophic," he said. "Not only does that affect kids and adults playing, but when this strike is over, our members are going to have to clean those fields, and [the nails will] put our members at risk as well."

Soccer enrollment has dropped by 200 players to about 400 girls this year, said Lichtmann. That translates into about $8,500 in lost revenue for the Killarney Youth Soccer Association.

Parents make disturbing discovery at the soccer field

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - Last night we told you about the parents at Killarney Oval threatening to cut the grass so their kids could play soccer. This morning the story made an interesting turn when they arrived at the field.

John Falcos is one of the parents and tells Global BC, they found debris in the grass. This included rusty nails, burnt wood, scrap metal and huge pieces of glass in two places on the pitch.

Falcos says he doesn't know if striking CUPE workers are behind it. Other parents at the field said yesterday the union was threatening to leave spikes in the grass. CUPE is not able to comment because they are currently in mediated talks with the City covered by a media ban.


Jonathan Woodward, Vancouver Sun

Published: Sunday, September 23, 2007

Several ominous paper signs have been posted outside picketed Vancouver city parks, warning parents and children not to play on the grass because it may contain "broken glass, rusty nails, rocks or concrete."

Soccer moms are worried that the signs - which preceded dumping of all of those items at Killarney Park last week - mean that other parks, including Douglas Park and Heather Park, could be strewn with debris.

"If there's a warning out there, there's an implied threat," said Joan Lichtmann, 41.

"Who would do this? It's dangerous for the kids and anyone who uses the field," she said.
Another mom, Deborah Reiner, told The Sun she found the sign at Heather Park "threatening" when she first saw it.

The signs say: "Use at own risk. Playing field may contain: broken glass, rusty nails, rocks or concrete." They are printed in black ink on paper affixed to wooden signs with tape. Some have been ripped down, said Reiner, but at least one is still in place at Douglas Park and Killarney Park.

Both women said that it's hard not to be suspicious of members of the union locals who are striking at the community centres nearby.

CUPE 1004 President Mike Jackson, who represents outside workers, said his workers were not involved.

Some 5,000 members of CUPE 15, which represents the city's inside workers, and CUPE 1004, which represents workers including groundskeepers, have been on strike since late July.

While both sides are in mediation with private mediator Brian Foley, neither is speaking to the media.

When garbage was dumped outside Mayor Sam Sullivan's Yaletown condominium in August, the Anti-Poverty Committee quickly claimed responsibility. Spokespeople for the APC couldn't be reached Sunday.

Park board chairman Ian Robertson said he didn't know of any signs, but said the board couldn't take action against the vandals without evidence.

"Whoever's doing it, you have to see them doing it," he said. "We ask for the vigilance and the eyes and ears of the neighbours."

Sixteen-year-old rugby player Jonathon Wong first discovered the nails on the field in Killarney park on Wednesday, and spent half an hour cleaning it up with his coach, John Falcos.

Then on Friday, when Lichtmann decided to hire a private contractor to mow the field, the contractor was stopped by union workers who said they were crossing the picket line.

Lichtmann announced that she would return on Saturday to mow the field herself, but by the time she and other parents arrived, someone else had dumped two distinct 10-metre trails of ash, broken industrial-sized glass, rusty nails and concrete on the field.

"The mowing was over," said Falcos, who was there at the time. "If you put a mower on that, you'll destroy your mower. If [a nail] shoots out it will kill someone."

B.C.'s labour law says that an employer must not organize people to do the work of union workers during a strike, whether they are paid or not.

Lichtmann said that city managers had agreed to clean up Killarney Park by Tuesday.

Striking workers picketing the Killarney Community Centre would not give their names to The Sun, but denied that they had any involvement.

Dangerous debris found as parents try to mow city soccer field

Private landscaper's earlier attempt had been foiled by striking workers, KYSA says

Lora Grindlay, The Province

Published: Monday, September 24, 2007

Broken glass, old nails and chunks of metal were discovered on a Killarney soccer pitch after a failed attempt by parents to have the grass groomed for games.

The debris, which amounted to about a garbage-can-full and included burned-out speaker casings, will remain strewn across Killarney Oval until mid-week when parks board managers are expected to mow the lawn. The city's outside workers who usually mow the fields have been on strike for more than two months.

Bargaining Update - September 21

From the City of Vancouver

City and CUPE agree to enhanced mediation process

Following three days of discussions with mediator Brian Foley, the City of Vancouver and CUPE Locals 15 and 1004 have agreed to an enhanced mediation process.

Within the next week, representatives of the City and the CUPE Locals will provide Brian Foley with verbal and written submissions on their respective views on the terms and conditions for renewal collective agreements.

After considering those representations, Brian Foley will provide the City and the CUPE Locals with his non-binding recommendations for ending the collective bargaining dispute. The City and the CUPE Locals have agreed that they will then submit those recommendations to the City’s principals and the Unions’ membership for acceptance or rejection.

A media blackout will be in place until Brian Foley has issued his recommendations.



Mediation with non-binding recommendations agreed to by City & CUPE locals

[September 21, 2007 02:32 PM]

Following three days of discussions with mediator Brian Foley, the City of Vancouver and CUPE Locals 15 and 1004 have agreed to an enhanced mediation process.

Within the next week, the representatives of the City and the two CUPE Locals will provide mediator Foley with verbal and written submissions on their respective views on the terms and conditions for renewal collective agreements.

After considering those representations, mediator Foley will provide the City and the CUPE Locals with his non-binding recommendations for ending the strike.

The parties have agreed that they will then submit those recommendations to the city's principals and the unions’ membership for acceptance or rejection by vote.

A media blackout will be in place until mediator Foley has issued his recommendations.

A complete media blackout remains in effect for CUPE 391 (Vancouver’s library workers).


Update on ongoing civic strike in Vancouver

Sep, 21 2007 - 3:50 PM

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - An update on the ongoing mediation aimed at reaching a settlement between the city of Vancouver and its three striking union locals.

As CKNW’s Connie Thiessen reports the union locals representing inside and outside workers have agreed to an enhanced mediation process.

The union says following three days of discussions with mediator Briann Foley, the city and Cupe 15 and 1004 have agreed to provide Foley with verbal and written submissions on their terms to reach a collective agreement.

After considering those, Foley will provide both sides with non-binding recommendations for ending the strike.

The parties have agreed to then submit those to the city's principals and union membership for acceptance or rejection by vote.

A media blackout is remaining in place until the mediator's recommendations have been issued.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bargaining Update

CUPE HOTSHEET #30 Posted Sept 20 5:12pm

The CUPE bargaining teams will meet again with the City and the appointed mediators on Friday, September 21. The media blackout is still in effect, and therefore, our bargaining committees cannot reveal any information about the current status of talks. But the bargaining committees will let us know as soon as there is some news that can be relayed to our members.
Truly, no news is good news.

Abandonement Anxiety

Challenging can only describe the task CUPE negotiators face as they attempt to bargain a deal that represents the diverse staff it represents.

Building Service Workers (janitors), Ice Rink Staff & Parking Metre Coin Collectors fear the loss of their jobs. When speaking with these staff their fear is palpable. What negotiator wants to explain why these jobs were sacrificed for the sake of labour peace?

No Layoffs Due to Contracting Out continues to be the primary obstacle. The City must drop it's arrogant posture. Time limited offers with benefit clawbacks exacerbated an already strained management / staff relationship.

City council members and aspiring mayoral candidates need to stop fanning the conflict and actually seek solutions. I believe that is called leadership as opposed to simply appeasing one's base.

CUPE must consider options beyond job / no job.

Abandonment defines the fear expressed by many in these staff groups. Mortgages, car payments and family expenses continue. It's easy to say "fire the lot" or "replace them all" when referring to strangers. The perspective changes when instead of strangers these are people you work with daily and chat about family, children and the future.

The role of the union is to ensure fair treatment and prevent abandonment.

That may not mean keeping the same job but at the very least it should ensure transition assistance.

Can the City assist in training? Can CUPE National do likewise? Both should.

All's Quiet on the Picket Front

Mediated talks continue under a media black out but after two disappointments expectations are minimal at best.

Friday afternoon is when competing press releases, usually referred to as Fact Sheets by both sides, are posted. I am hoping it will be quiet on Friday and talks continue over the weekend.

The fall chill is appropriate given the state of relations between staff and management. Blankets, toques, gloves, fleece and heaters have replaced shorts, t-shirts and sunglasses.

In the vein of expecting the worst picket captains are requesting burn barrels. Thanksgiving is approaching and low expectations are giving way to new distractions. Recipes for barbecued turkey is the hot commodity. The debate is coals vs wood (and then what type of wood).

Re: Great Comment Worth Reading

Post removed at request of writer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New Short Film - The Flying Bicycle Brigade

James Gemmill has produced another short film which succinctly explains the core bargaining issues of CUPE 391 (Library Workers).

Walking The Line: The Flying Bicycle Brigade

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sucker Punch

Talks break down followed by a flurry or press releases, posturing and finger pointing. I'm glad that talks are going to mediation. Brian Foley will work with CUPE 15 and 1004 while Debbie Cameron focus on CUPE 391 (Library Workers).

But as Judy Rogers pointed out it is non-binding.

CUPE is attempting to play both sides of the mediation fence. For the past three weeks it has publicly stated it is willing to negotiate, bargain or mediate. Yet, as Jerry Dubrovolny correctly pointed out, there was no actual follow through by CUPE to initiate mediation. Each side can request a mediator and the City acted first. CUPE, through Keith Graham, can not then complain that the City has the advantage in setting the mandate. The same option was open to them.

The City continues to emphasize the amount of settlement offers it made to avert this two month shut down of civic services. What the City consistently fails to mention is that their offers were time limited and repeatedly referred to as "firm, final offers."

Ultimatums result in the equal and opposite response - Defiance.

It's human nature and the City's management team has demonstrated a surprising lack of understanding on this front.

The original offer, 39 months, would have expired in March 2010. 90 days after the Olympics conclude. Negotiations can begin up to 6 months prior to the expiry of a Collective Agreement or October 2009. Honestly, can you believe that the City would have entered into any serious discussions in the midst of the run up to the Olympics?

4 years was not acceptable to the politicians. They correctly believed that labour negotiations would become the election issue. CUPE claimed that it would never be an issue but then at the last CUPE rally union presidents leaders announced that they will work to unseat NPA councillors and the Mayor.

5 years became the next logical step but it only became acceptable to the City negotiators when settlements across the Lower Mainland set this as the contract template.

The City also consistently fails to mention that not only was the contract set to expire at the end of the Olympics but that there were benefit claw backs in the medical, dental and employee savings plan. I have stated before that I am very happy with the current benefit plan and can not in good conscience expect more.

CUPE 15 leadership is locked into "No Lay Offs Due to Contracting Out" and is opposed to the City posting jobs both internally and externally. CUPE 1004 wants to penalize the City for bad faith bargianing by asking for 1% more in its settlement.

Between the arrogance of City Managers (firm, final offer) and 19th century industrial trade unionist mindset of CUPE negotiators I just shake my head and come to the cold realization that the City doesn't give a damn about it's employees and CUPE does not know how to represent knowledge based workers.

Challenge either side and be prepared to be vilified.

Its a cold hard sucker punch. Saturday I stayed in bed all day wondering "what the hell - why even care anymore?" I'm still asking that question.

It's the start of week 9. Strike pay arrives on Friday. It covers the bills, so 20 hours/week of picket duty continues.

I'm working on the resume this week and job hunting next week.

Mediators Selected

News1130 reports:

Mediators to help City of Vancouver and its striking workers

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - Two mediators will sit down with the City of Vancouver and its unions this week to help settle the civic strike. The effort is being called a step in the right direction, or at least it's a step to try and find some middle ground. The parties have mutually agreed to hire private mediators Brian Foley and Debbie Cameron, instead of having the BC Minister of Labour appoint a special mediator under Section 76.

Debbie Cameron was first employed by the BC Nurses Union and worked as a Labour Relations Officer and a Negotiations Officer. She became the Co-ordinator for Hospitals and Organizing in 1992. Brian Foley was involved in talks between BC Transit and the Office and Professional Employees Union during a contract dispute involving office staff in 1999.

University of Victoria professor John Fryer said all we can do now is keep our fingers crossed. "It's hopeful the mediator can pull things off. The worry is if they can't, then often that means the parties are so entrenched that a strike goes on for a very long time."

Fryer said although a mediator can help, the best kind of collective agreement is one the parties reach themselves. Foley will work with CUPE 15 and CUPE 1004, while Cameron will mediate talks between CUPE 391 and the Vancouver Public Library. The talks will be under a media blackout.

Jonathan Woodward, Vancouver Sun

Published: Monday, September 17, 2007

When Private Contracts Go Wrong (02)

I posted this link to the Vancouver Courier article just before Friday's breakdown in talks. It got buried in the flurry of press releases and news stories.

Check out today's Vancouver Courier.

East Siders tired of living in an 'abandoned construction site'
Sewage work on East 20th Ave. stalled in June after a dispute between city and contractor

Cheryl Rossi, Vancouver Courier
Published: Friday, September 14, 2007


Contract disputes, public sector or private contract, occur. Both will inconvenience residents while the respective parties point fingers from the comfort of their separate offices.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mediation Mash-Up

"The city and the three Canadian Union of Public Employees locals have been negotiating under a media blackout all week.

"The city ended that blackout Friday, saying the two sides had reached serious impasses on a number of issues and it is now asking the province to appoint mediators.

"The city is also asking the B.C. Labour Relations Board to appoint a facilitator to help end the strike by 800 library workers.

According to a memo issued by city manager Judy Rogers, the mediation will be non-binding and should begin next week." (

"CUPE, Local 15 chief negotiator Keith Graham said his union has always been willing to enter mediation. But he disputed the city's argument that it was forced to call for a special mediator because negotiations had stalled this week.

"Graham said talks with the city adjourned Wednesday night and were set to resume this weekend with the union responding to the employer's latest offer." (Vancouver Sun)

"...Rogers says in the memo that the city has told CUPE 15 it is ready to go back to the bargaining table this weekend — and that she hopes the two sides can come to an agreement even before mediators are brought in. (

"There was some movement with Local 15 and we've said we are prepared to continue to meet through the weekend," said Dobrovolny."

"About mediation, Graham said "the employer has precipitously gone down this road. It's hard for us not to believe that it's another tactic by the employer to not negotiate a deal."

"Graham also said his union would prefer mediation through the B.C. Labour Relations Board rather than the appointment of a special mediator by the provincial labor minister who will set the terms of reference for the mediation process."(Vancouver Sun)

"The province is not obligated to appoint a mediator; the B.C. Ministry of Labour had no immediate comment on whether it will act on the city and library's requests." (The Globe & Mail)

"Ministry of Labour spokesman Gordon Williams said the province received the city's request on Friday and has not yet made a formal decision. If the province decides to appoint a special mediator, both sides must agree on the terms of reference before talks begin." (Vancouver Province)

Ministry of Labour spokesman Gordon Williams said the government appointment of a mediator occurs "very rarely" and the request was not granted. (Vancouver Province)

"At the same time, the Vancouver Public Library is asking the Labour Relations Board to appoint a facilitator in its seven-week-old dispute with its workers." (The Globe & Mail)

"The VPL and the union are still at odds over wages and job security provisions." (Vancouver Sun)

"The city is still at odds with Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 15, which represents the city's inside workers, over the local's demand for a ban on layoffs caused by contracting out and the city's demand for more flexibility in the hiring of external job candidates." (Vancouver Sun)

"The negotiating team representing Vancouver's outside workers was scheduled to head back to the bargaining table Friday for a second day of talks but they were called off." (

"Money is the key issue for the outside workers in Local 1004, which is seeking an 18-per-cent wage hike over five years - one per cent more than the regional pattern, said Dobrovolny.

"With Local 1004, we seem to be moving in the opposite direction. They told us that the longer they stay out on strike the higher the expectations of its members will be." (Vancouver Sun)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Great Comment Worth Reading

Post removed at request of writer.

City's Offers to CUPE - September

The City has posted the latest offers:

CUPE 1004 - Wants More if Strike Continues

Talks Off Between City of Vancouver and Striking Workers
Sep, 14 2007 - 3:30 PM

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - Talks have broken down between the City of Vancouver and its three striking union locals.
The city has now asked the Labour Minister to appoint a mediator.

City spokesperson Jerry Dobrovolny says the city has extended an invitation to CUPE 15, representing inside workers, to continue bargaining through the weekend, but has now presented the union with 11 offers, including two this week that were rejected, "We're wanting to move as quickly as we can to end the strike and so we're trying now to do two things: one is negotiate through the weekend, but also have a mediator available for next week."

Meanwhile, Dobrovolny says the city has been presented a new twist by outside workers.

He says CUPE 1004 has indicated the longer their members remain out, the higher their wage demands will go.

Their last offer asked the city for 18.5% over five years, above the regional mandate of 17.5%.

There is word CUPE 15 members may march on City Hall next Tuesday, the day of the first City Council meeting since the summer break.

BC Labour Relations Code - Section 76

Special mediator

76 (1) The minister may appoint a special mediator, and specify terms of reference for the special mediator, to assist the parties in settling the terms and conditions of a collective agreement or a renewal or revision of a collective agreement.

(2) The minister may terminate the appointment of a special mediator.

(3) The special mediator must keep the minister informed as to the progress of the mediation.

(4) The special mediator, in carrying out his or her duties under this Code, has the protection, privileges and powers of a commissioner under sections 12, 15 and 16 of the Inquiry Act.

CUPE's Response to City's LRB Mediator Request

City of Vancouver and Vancouver Public Library break off talks
[September 14, 2007 03:55 PM]

VANCOUVER – CUPE 15, CUPE 391 and CUPE 1004 are disappointed that the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Public Library and Metro Vancouver Labour Relations Bureau chose to break off talks today.

The Vancouver Public Library has indicated that they will be seeking the services of a BC Labour Relations facilitator to assist with negotiations with CUPE 391.

The City has informed CUPE 15 and CUPE 1004 that they have sent a letter to the Minister of Labour requesting the appointment of a special provincial mediator under Section 76 of the BC Labour Code.

For weeks, the unions have been calling for a third party to assist in negotiations with either a facilitator, mediator or mutually agreed to private mediator. The special mediator the City has applied for means the union will have no say in the “terms of reference”, in other words who the mediator will be and whether or not the mediation will be binding.

Although the City and Library gave notice that they wished to lift the mutually agreed media blackout, the locals asked that the blackout remain in effect so that the parties could remain focussed on bargaining, however the City and Library flatly refused the request.

It is uncertain when facilitation will begin with the library workers or when mediated talks with Vancouver’s inside and outside workers will continue. CUPE will not be issuing any further comments to the media until next steps are clarified.

Contact: Diane Kalen, CUPE Communications, 778-229-0258

City Backgrounder - Bargaining with CUPE 15

CUPE 15 served the City with a notice to commence bargaining on September 1, 2006. City and CUPE 15 negotiators first exchanged proposals on September 22 and met to discuss these proposals in a series of meetings on October 19, 31 and November 1.

The City presented its first offer for settlement on November 17, and after two subsequent meetings of the Benefits Sub Committee, the union put forward its first offer for settlement on November 22. The city responded to this offer on November 30.

After three additional meetings of the Benefits Sub Committee, the City presented a second offer on December 15, 2006, in response to Union concerns. CUPE 15 negotiators presented the union’s second settlement offer on January 15, 2007.

Three meetings took place on January 22, 25 and February 7 to discuss the parties’ positions, prompting the Union to present a third offer for settlement on February 16. The City again responded the union with a third offer for settlement on
February 22. Two additional meetings took place, and subsequently CUPE 15 called a strike vote, resulting in the return of a 93.5% strike mandate on April 26.

In an ongoing effort to avert job action, City negotiators came forward with a fourth offer for settlement and offered to engage a private mediator, to facilitate ongoing negotiations. On May 22, the Union declined to enter into privately
mediated discussions, and the City requested mediation through the Labour Relations Board (LRB), in order to prevent potential job action. The LRB agreed to facilitate mediated talks, and appointed Debbie Cameron as mediator on May 30, 2007.

After four mediated sessions – bringing the total number of meetings between the City and Union to twenty-two - the City tabled its fifth and last offer for settlement on July 9. CUPE 15 leadership rejected the City’s last offer and refused to allow its
members to vote on its content. The City applied to the LRB to conduct a last offer vote, in order to allow employees the opportunity to consider and vote on the offer.

The Labour Relations Board approved the city’s application for a last offer vote, which was conducted through the day on July 19. The City’s last offer for settlement was rejected by CUPE 15 employees by 89%. Of the total employees eligible to vote, 52% did so.

Following the vote, CUPE 15 booked out of mediation (discontinuing facilitated meetings), and served the City with 72 hour strike notice. CUPE 15 members began job action early on Monday, July 23.

City Backgrounder - Bargaining with CUPE 1004

CUPE 1004 served the City with a notice to commence bargaining on November 2, 2006. Dates were set for early 2007 to bring parties together to exchange proposals. The first meeting between the City and CUPE 1004 negotiators took place on January 23; proposals were exchanged.

Subsequent meetings took place on February 23, March 6, March 7, and April 17. In each of those meetings, the City and CUPE negotiators discussed proposals exchanged on January 23.

On April 25 and May 22, meetings of a Sick Leave Committee took place, with a dedicated focus on attempting to resolve outstanding issues in this area. In the days following the May 22 meeting, CUPE 1004 filed notice of their first strike vote. The City was surprised by the move, since it was early in the negotiation process, and the City felt both parties were bargaining well, and in good faith.

On May 28 the City filed an application with the Labour Relations Board, asking it to declare CUPE 1004’s strike vote premature. On May 30, after a hearing on the issue, the LRB filed a decision agreeing with the City, declaring CUPE 1004’s strike vote premature. The LRB ordered the union back to the bargaining table and directed both parties to meet on June 5, 7 and 14. On May 31, CUPE 1004 cancelled their first strike vote.

Over the course of the early June meetings, the City re-tabled an offer to the union (June 7) and, in response to union concerns, tabled a second, updated offer the following week (June 14). In the days immediately following the June 14 meeting, CUPE 1004 re-filed notice of a strike vote, and on June 21, members voted 96% in favour of a strike.

The City continued to attempt to avert job action, requesting an opportunity for mediated meetings to take place. On June 27 and July 5, meetings took place at the LRB, through a mediator. After the July 5 meeting, CUPE 1004 requested the mediator ‘book out’ (discontinue facilitating meetings), and on July 10 served the City with 72 hour strike notice. Strike action did not commence on July 13, since the LRB had not completed the process of ruling on which City services would be declared Essential Services. This process was completed on July 16.

In a final attempt to avert labour disruptions, the City wrote to CUPE 1004 (July 13) and requested additional mediated meetings. On July 16, CUPE simultaneously agreed to a meeting, which took place on Tuesday, July 17, and re-served 72 hour strike notice. The City was surprised at the July 17 meeting, when CUPE 1004 negotiators attended – accompanied by a number of union representatives of various bargaining units from across the lower mainland.

After a full day of mediated discussions on July 17, it was clear that there was a significant distance between the two parties. The wage and benefit position put forward by CUPE 1004 left the City with no basis for further bargaining. CUPE 1004
members began job action early on Thursday, July 19.

City Requests Mediator for CUPE 15, 1004 & 391

September 14, 2007

City of Vancouver asks Minister of Labour to appoint mediator to settle CUPE 15 strike

Today the City of Vancouver has asked the Minister of Labour to appoint a mediator to address the key outstanding issues between the City and CUPE 15, in an effort to end the union’s strike action as soon as possible. Under provincial legislation either party to the labour dispute may request a mediator and the City is now making this request.

After repeated negotiations, eleven offers, and eight weeks of strike action, CUPE 15 (inside workers) and the City have been unable to reach a settlement.

The City has provided CUPE 15 with two additional offers this week that match regional settlement levels. These have not served to resolve the dispute. The key outstanding issues are the union’s demand for a guarantee of no layoffs in the event of contracting out, and the union’s unwillingness to provide flexibility to the employer in the hiring of external candidates.

While requesting the appointment of a mediator, the City of Vancouver remains eager to settle the strike as quickly as possible and has offered to negotiate throughout the weekend to try to reach a settlement, prior to the appointment of a mediator.

The City is making every effort possible so that its employees can return to work and services to Vancouver residents can be restored.

Media contact:

Jerry Dobrovolny
Assistant City Engineer

Further Information:

Go to for Fact Sheet Update on CUPE 15 negotiations

September 14, 2007

City of Vancouver asks Minister of Labour to appoint mediator to settle CUPE 1004 strike

Today the City of Vancouver has asked the Minister of Labour to appoint a mediator to address the key outstanding issues between the City and CUPE 1004, in an effort to end the union’s strike action as soon as possible. Under provincial legislation either party to the labour dispute may request a mediator and the City is now making this request.

After repeated negotiations and eight weeks of strike action, CUPE 1004 (outside workers) and the City have been unable to reach a settlement.

The City has provided CUPE 1004 with a new offer. While CUPE 1004 and the City have reached agreement on some issues, many significant demands remain outstanding. CUPE 1004 has advised that they will not settle until the disputes with CUPE 15 (inside workers) and CUPE 391 (library workers) are resolved.

In asking the Ministry of Labour to appoint a mediator to settle outstanding issues with CUPE 1004, the City of Vancouver remains eager to settle this strike so that its employees can return to work and services to Vancouver residents can be restored.

Media Contact:
Jerry Dobrovolny
Assistant City Engineer

Further Information:
Go to for Fact Sheet Update on CUPE 1004 negotiations

For Immediate Release: September 14, 2007


VANCOUVER – Today, the Vancouver Public Library asked the Labour Relations Board to appoint a facilitator to address the key outstanding issues between the Library and CUPE Local 391, which represents library workers.

“After several rounds of negotiations and seven weeks of strike action, CUPE 391 and the Library have been unable to reach a settlement,” said City Librarian Paul Whitney.

The Library presented a new offer to CUPE 391 over the last two days that includes a 17.5 per cent wage increase over five years. The union, however, is unwilling to accept this offer and is still proposing wage and benefit increases of more than 30 per cent of payroll costs.

Additionally, CUPE 391 continues to demand guaranteed job security and no layoffs, which would eliminate the flexibility necessary for the Library to deliver services to the community.

“In asking the Labour Relations Board to appoint a facilitator to assist the parties in settling these important outstanding issues, the Vancouver Public Library remains eager to settle this labour dispute so that our employees can return to work and library services can be restored to Vancouver residents,” said Mr. Whitney.

- 30 -

For more information, please contact: Jean Kavanagh
Manager, Marketing & Communications
Vancouver Public Library
604-331- 3895
604-612-4059 (cell)

Week 8 - It's a Milestone

Eight weeks of picket duty is a milestone for this Picket Boy.

It marks the end of hoping for a settlement. It’s time to:

• Update the resume;
• Hunt for a new job;
• Develop an entrepreneurial business plan.

Self-employment here I come.

Strike pay will carry me. I’ve paid $900.00 / year to CUPE ( a non-refundable tax deduction) and as of next week I’m close to retrieving $1,800.00.

I love my current job. I work front line with an incredible group of volunteers. Yet two months of striking and no resolution in sight is the incentive I need to start a new chapter / adventure.

Wish me Luck!!!

When Private Contracts Go Wrong

Check out today's Vancouver Courier.

East Siders tired of living in an 'abandoned construction site'
Sewage work on East 20th Ave. stalled in June after a dispute between city and contractor

Cheryl Rossi, Vancouver Courier
Published: Friday, September 14, 2007


Contract disputes, public sector or private contract, occur. Both will inconvenience residents while the respective parties point fingers from the comfort of their separate offices.

Bargaining Obstacles - No Layoffs

Day 5 of the media black out and the rumour mill was in overdrive.

Bargaining is progressing on most points except one. “No Layoffs Due to Contracting Out.” Adding to CUPE’s concern is the City not stating whether the new/rebuilt ice rinks (Killarney, Riley/Hillcrest and Trout Lake) will be designated as CUPE worksites.

If I were City management I would not tip my hand.

The City is facing a fiscal challenge. (I know CUPE disagrees on this point.)

City Council is considering a further 2% transfer of property taxes from business to residential property owners. Vancouver is losing its small and medium businesses to the suburbs (Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey). Vancouver, not being a corporate hub, (Calgary has more corporate headquarters) is dependant upon small and medium sized business. The tax transfer is an attempt to stem this loss. Operating costs are quickly eroding Vancouver's desirability as a location for small business.

Residential taxpayers will simply note the successive tax increases, no comparable increase in services and the memory of an extended civic strike.

The City must develop a new labour mix, public and private, which provides affordable quality services for its taxpayers while staff wages cover Vancouver’s cost of living.

Vancouver must avoid the recruitment challenges of the West Vancouver police department. New officers can not afford homes on the North Shore. Langley or Squamish are the only options but the hellish commute is a disincentive.

Exclusively public or private is a reactionary response. Neither should have the monopoly on serving the public. The City’s job is to find that balance. That is the role of the City’s elected representatives whether CUPE likes it or not.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Increased Residential and Business Taxes

First thank you for all the comments regarding Peter Ladner.

I was not surprised but am disappointed by Mr. Ladner's response.

Since both he and Mayor Sullivan have publicly stated that the average residential increase will be $300.00 over 5 years and in excess of $3,000.00 for businesses I would have assumed that the process of formulating that data would be publicly accessible too.

If the costs had not already been released both in a Mayor's communique and in Sept 7th's Vancouver Sun then I would understand Mr. Ladner's reply.

Apparently during a strike information from Vancouver City Hall is neither free nor accessible to all.

Media Blackout

Yesterday CUPE 15 had a picket captains meeting. They did some finger waving about how and when people picket and are now threatening to send "picket police" to ensure people are picketing in the manner prescribed.

Regarding negotiations CUPE and the City are in offer - counter offer mode. It appears both sides are attempting to massage contract language to ensure neither side loses what face they have left.

Sticking points "No Layoffs" & "Auxiliary Seniority Pool."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Peter Ladner Responds

Dear Picket Boy:

I've got your answers, but I do not deal with people hiding behind pen names or writing anonymously. You know who I am. I'll send them to you when I know who you are.

Peter Ladner

Sent 11:14pm Monday September 10

Monday, September 10, 2007

Peter Ladner - Mischief Maker

Peter Ladner, in the Monday September 07, 2007 Vancouver Sun, presents the city's case:
As for the 2010 Olympics Partnership Agreement, CUPE wants to limit opportunities for employees and volunteers to participate, and to claim exclusive union jurisdiction over all Olympic sites.

We're also fighting the expectation that the 2010 Olympics will open the door to a better-than-expected deal, as witnessed by a leaked union memo saying that the city workers deserve a 2010 signing bonus.

The first paragraph is an accurate presentation of CUPE 15's offer to the City. It does, however, gloss over the City's proposal of a revised work week.

The second paragraph is an astounding fabrication matched only by the entitlement mindset of certain picketers.

Olympic linkage to a signing bonus was not ever made.

Mr. Ladner refers to a memo sent by Mike Jackson, CUPE 1004 president, to his bargaining committee. It stated or proposed, depending on the story, that CUPE would require a signing bonus, to return to work, and that the amount would increase as the strike lengthened. I have heard this sentiment expressed on the picket line.

I no more understand the entitlement logic then I do Mr. Ladner's mischief making.

If Mr. Ladner wished to question CUPE's intentions it would have been wiser to utilize CUPE's factsheet titled " 'Fiscal Reality' at the City of Vancouver."
Economy Booming
The Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board Housing Price index for all types of housing is up more than 10% . . .
A questions Mr. Ladner could have posed:
  • Is CUPE suggesting property taxes should always increase by the same percentage as their assessed value?
Residential Taxpayers Pay for Freeze on Business Taxes
Vancouver is shifting 2% of the tax levy away from business property taxes and towards homeowners,
Mr. Ladner could have simply implied:
  • CUPE, it seems, is opposed to small business. For all CUPE's anti-Wal Mart bluster about protecting small business they don't wish to give that same small business a a tax break
Contracting Out
$6.7 million to Haebler Construction Projects Inc.
Mr. Ladner could have asked:
  • Since when is CUPE in the contstruction business?
  • IS CUPE opposed to the new Sunset Community Centre or the new ice rinks?
In 2006, the value of Vancouver's Property Fund was $1.83 billion. At the end of 2006, city of Vancouver had $339.1 million set aside in special purpose reserves. These reserves increased by 15% ($44.3 million) over the year.
Mr. Ladner could have challenged CUPE:
  • Which property should be sold to access profit from the property fund?
  • The special purposes reserves are a rainy day fund. Funds required for emergency services and reconstruction following a natural disaster. Does CUPE truly believe that this strike is a natural diaster?
Finally, a question for Mr. Ladner.

You consistently state:
Bear in mind that the above-inflation salary increases that both sides have already agreed upon will cost the average Vancouver homeowner around $300 over the five-year term of the contract, and an average business owner $3,290. This is without adding the cost of benefits still being negotiated.
Following in the spirit of Benjamin Disraeli, "There are three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."

You consistently state the above noted costs without ever explaining how they were determined. I sent you an email September 5th requesting the process to determine these average costs and also what the cost of the proposed contract terms, 17.5% over 5 years, would be.

No answer so far.

It appears you wish to repeat these costs enough times anticipating that taxpayers will eventually accept it as fact while avoiding any quantifiable challenge to prove it's accuracy.

Issues - Attraction and Retention

The City is wishes to simultaneously post positions internally and externally above pay grade 26 ($29.07 - $34.34/hour) to expedite finding the best candidate.

CUPE argues that internal posting should come first. If no one qualifies then the positions should be advertised externally. This adds 6 - 8 weeks in the job hiring process.

Vancouver is the only city in the lower mainland with this bargaining language.

Originally I was opposed to the idea of joint postings. Now given the clarification of job skills sought and that Vancouver is the only city with such language I now support joint postings.

One caveat. I mentioned this earlier. It is suspected by staff that job descriptions have been tailored to suit an individual rather than the job. This is where the union does benefit staff and ensure a fair hiring process.

Issues - Job Classification

CUPE and the City are very close on this issue.

Originally CUPE sought to have jobs classified and valued as compared to positions of equal responsibility within the private sector. The City balked at this proposal as this would "whipsaw" wages upwards to unsustainable levels.

CUPE has revised their offer limiting comparisons to the public sector. The City wishes to limit comparisons internal City jobs.

The City, however, has been opposed to internal comparisons between the City and Park Board. Now it is willing. Park Board is represented by the same union local as City staff and the Park Board general manager sits on the City's senior management team. The lack of job comparisons has resulted in single task City clerks being paid more than multi-tasking Park clerks. (Only in the public sector.)

Britannia Community Services Centre and Ray-Cam Cooperative Community Centre, though listed as community centres, have separate civic agreements.


The Vancouver Sun, on Saturday September 8, did a great story which focussed on Ron Suzuki, programmer at Strathcona Community Centre. Ron and other programmers have been working for 10 years to reach an agreement with the City's Human Resources department to develop a job description that better classifies the position.

Eight weeks on strike begins to pale in comparison to glacial pace of job reviews by the City.

Mr. Suzuki, in 2007, has raised over $250.000.00 for hot breakfast programs, kids sports and other benefits for low income families. Strathcona is listed as the poorest postal code in Canada.

Unfortunately, the City's Scrooge like argument is:
the job description, including running community centres, is clear and any extra work they chose to do is volunteer.

"[Suzuki's] job requirements have not changed," said Dubrovolny.
(Vancouver Sun. Job reclassification is a sticky wicket. Jonathan Woodward. Saturday Sept 8, 2007)
Leave it to an engineer to not comprehend shades of gray.

The Park programmer job descriptions is the same for Dunbar or Kerrisdale as it is for Strathcona and Thunderbird. What Mr. Dubrovolny, the City and the Park Board fail to understand is that lower income residents give up recreation for food and other necessities. Park Board will argue that they provide a Leisure Access Card providing 50% discounts to recreational services. Problem is not all programs are sponsored by the Park Board.

Each centre has a non-profit board that oversees spending and programming. Most programs are sponsored by the non-profit board. Staff must balance between the demands of Parks management and their non-profit board of directors.

Mr. Suzuki has successfully balanced the demands of both Parks and his Board. Who should pay for the additional work and recognize the success of his efforts?

The City could offer incentive pay based on merit steps which could be negotiatiable with CUPE. Oops, I forgot, CUPE doesn't recognize merit and such rewards run counter it's dogma.

The non-profit association could provide supplement pay based upon the percentage of the amount raised. This would raise eyebrows as funders would question if it is only the writer who benefits.

The City can not develop a person specific job classification, but, it can recognize the challenges of working in a low income neighbourhood and the additional work required to ensure recreation programs are a success.

Too bad CUPE does not believe in incentive merit based bonuses.