Bargaining without negotiating – Day 19 without a response from our employer

September 5.2007 – Today Ed Dickson, Bargaining Chair, Peter Degroot, Job Action Chair and Alex Youngberg visited the picketed branches: Britannia, Strathcona, Champlain, Kerrisdale, Kitsilano, Joe Fortes and Central.  We clarified to the members where we are at with bargaining and what is happening at shared worksites with school libraries.

It is easier to wrestle in jello than to describe bargaining with our Employer, the City and the GVRD.  We have had no response in nineteen days to our last proposals.  The three Vancouver locals will be meeting Thursday, September 6, To discuss and strategise around the current situation.  Ed and I reminded members how valuable their contribution is to promoting our issues with the public.  Please engage with your friends and neighbours, and respond to local talk show hosts when they raise the subject of our strike.

We had a glorious day.  First stop Britannia to explain how we are affected by the Labour Board’s injunction.  The Vancouver School Board applied for this injunction.  The result of the LRB’s deliberations are:  CUPE 391 can only picket the entrance to the library.  The VSB cannot use our computer systems, or materials (books, etc), but they can use the space, tables and chairs.  We have had discussions with the VESTA, the union for elementary and seconday teachers and the school management team.  The teachers have made it clear that they have no appetite to use the library in any capacity.  The VSB may order them to use the library space, which will spark more discussion.  Our members are so adamant in their convictions yet so torn because of their love of public service.

Strathcona.  This is where we first saw the flying pickets in full flight.  What a magnificent sight!  Strathcona picketers face the same issues as Britannia’s except that our picketing is restricted to Keefer Street.  This is because the library is inside the schools.  We have decided to join CUPE 15 at their site.  We are handing our dual language pamphlets (English and Chinese) to the public at Strathcona and Britannia that explain our present situation with the employer.  Our members were well received by the community and respected by the staff of Lord Strathcona school.

Kerrisdale picketers are such traditionalists.  Quel picnic! Cutlery, flowers, eight courses.  Kerrisdale and Joe Fortes have their barbeques on Wednesdays; Champlain and Kitsilano dine on Tuesdays and Central gorges on Fridays.  The Pay Equity pooches were in full force.  The spaniels were very sociable, the black lab was patrician and the sassy blonde ate vegetables with alacrity (apparently an omnivore).

Joe Fortes had an enormous feast also.  The members share barbeques with CUPE 15.  We are getting quite knowledgeable about each others issues.

Friday (September 7) at Central we have the Puppeteers doing a puppet show at 11 a.m.  This will be an all new show.  The excitement mounts.  Tell your neighbours, bring your children.  These people are so talented.  Also, Thursday, Sept 6th, Rita Wong, author of “Monkey Puzzle”, winner of the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop emerging artist award will be giving a reading.  We thank Todd Wong for contacting the community of writers and for their continuing support.

On a cheerful note – great news for Pay Equity.  The Beefeaters, that old and hirsute organisation, has hired their first woman.  Apparently she is being paid the same as the men to guard the crown jewels.  Oh, the joys of working for a male-dominated workforce.