Comment 32762

By Borrelli (registered) | Posted August 12, 2009 at 10:44:31

As a union member and local delegate, as well as someone who'd describe themselve as a labour supporter, I'm ashamed by the most recent CUPE strike in Toronto. Though not a Miller fan by any stretch, I was sincerely hoping he would crush both the inside and and outside workers in their patently ridiculous fight to maintain benefits enjoyed by a very select few Canadian workers, and which are an unjustifiable use of taxpayer money.

I'm more of a forest in lieu of trees type of guy, and I believe the strike made all union members and supporters look bad, because it lent further creedence to the idea that there are a set of working conditions in Canada that are only enjoyed by (public) union members, and that these benefits are guarded jealously. To me, the role of unionism in Canada should not, primarily, be to locally bargain for wages and benefits that cannot be justified to other labourers (unionized or not). Many of these workers are still fighting for more basic considerations, like overtime pay, fair parental leave practices, and/or freedom from harassment in the workplace--protecting something like a sick bank sounds more like a sick joke.

Instead of fighting for the benefits associated with NOT using sick days, Toronto's CUPE workers should have taken two seconds to step back and look at how they were percieved by the public at large. They could have negotiated a deal that would have seen the end to sick day banking in lieu of some other program long-term disability program that would have served a similar end. It would have made them more relateable during a strike that severely inconvenienced a large cross-section of the public.

More importantly, CUPE HQ should be more concerned with the expansion of union membership in this country than continuing to support a two-tier labour structure. I worry that the real fallout of the strike will be a continued increase in antipathy towards big (& public) unions, and a resultant decline in the interest of labourers (especially new Canadians) in unionizing, for fear of being lumped in with a group of entitled whiners.

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