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.