Hotsheet #1

In the Georgia Straight (August 16-23, p. 16) an article appeared entitled: “Anton: Vision using strike for political gain.”

The article indicates that some City Council members are using the strike as a “disguised political action against Sullivan” and CUPE locals are involved in trying to damage Mayor Sullivan’s reputation.

Councillor Anton’s accusation is simply not true. CUPE and CUPE 391 are not using this strike to “disguise political action” or to damage Mayor Sullivan’s reputation. It is about getting a fair collective agreement for Vancouver’s library workers.

In fact, as his past actions have shown, Sam Sullivan does not need any help in bringing about negative feedback regarding his leadership during the strike. As the Mayor of Vancouver, his actions and inaction have been in no small part responsible for the situation that has developed.

It is his responsibility to ensure that residents receive the services they need and deserve. Sadly, all the Mayor has done so far is to fail in his responsibility to both citizens and civic workers by NOT directing his management team to negotiate a fair collective agreement as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Unfortunately for Mayor Sullivan and Vancouver City Councillors, inevitably when all is said and done, Mayor and Council are directly responsible for the welfare of the city and they will be judged by the actions they take.

Questions have also arisen about CUPE locals making donations to various civic political parties. Just as it is the right of developers, big business and various special interest groups and individuals to contribute to political parties of their choice, it is a democratic right for labour unions to also contributed money to political parties that support issues that are important to our members.

On the CBC TV local news at 6:00 pm on August 16, it was announced that the offer of 17.5% over 5 years to striking library workers was, according to the union, “not enough”.

Perhaps the reporting of the facts was not enough either.  The report neglected to make any mention of the pertinent local issues.  Nor was any indication given of “why” it may have been rejected.

What was missing was the importance of our four main concerns: pay equity, benefits for part-time and auxiliary workers, job security, and overall improvements to benefits.  Nor was it noted that for many library workers the continuing employer demand for major concessions to benefits and rights fought for and won in previous rounds of negotiations forms a major barrier to meaningful negotiations.

The Vancouver Province newspaper reports (August 17/07, pg.3) that the City contracted Ipsos Reid to conduct a telephone poll.  This poll asks Vancouver residents about their views on an offer of 17.5% over 5 years to the City’s unionized workers.  According to the article, 89% of Vancouver residents believe the offer is fair.  In addition, 60% of respondents expressed concern about the effect on their taxes.

Please remember that the current labour dispute is not just about a 17.5% over 5 years.  It is about local issues of which the survey makes no mention.