Friday, February 03, 2012

Letter to ON MPP Michael Prue

(Variants also sent to Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, Ward 32; ONDP Leader Andrea Horwath; and Premier Dalton McGuinty.)

Dear Mr. Prue,

I am a resident of Beaches-East York. I am writing to express my concern and outrage regarding the Mayor Rob Ford's "negotiation" strategy with the city's unions.

As announced today, the city's negotiators have -- presumably, with the mayor's consent -- presented CUPE 416 with an ultimatum. On the one hand, they can accept contract conditions which would radically alter the collective agreement, and likely destroy their jobs. Or, on the other hand, these conditions will be imposed during a lockout, via a loophole in Ontario's labour laws which permits this.

This behaviour is outrageous. While I understand the mayor's desire to revise the collective agreements, this tactic is unprecedented in Canadian labour history. No public sector union, to my knowledge, has ever had conditions imposed by an employer.

It is, unfortunately, more common in the private sector, as with Electro-Motive in London. I can hardly believe that this is the model the city wants to emulate for its labour relations, particularly given the generally sad state of Canadian labour relations. (Canada is frequently singled out by the ILO and the UN as a serial violater of basic labour rights, along with such viciously anti-union regimes as Colombia.)

Furthermore, the tactic is frankly abusive. The mayor's popularity is in massive decline, and his transit plans are unravelling as his budget demands already did. In light of this, the mayor is clearly trying to pick a damaging, public fight in order to buttress his flagging fortunes, regardless of the real cost to the citizens of this city and the morale of the city's workers.

I am asking you, as my representative in the provincial parliament, to work with all parties as quickly as possible to strip the mayor and his executive committee of the power to impose collective agreements without the full consent of council.

Failing that, as the lockout deadline is looming, I am asking you to work with all parties to condemn the mayor's strategy and tactics, to revert the collective agreement as soon as possible, and strip the mayor and his committee of the power to negotiate unilaterally on behalf of the city.

At the least, I insist that the provincial parliament intervene immediately to send the dispute to binding interest arbitration with a neutral and experienced arbitrator.

Yours sincerely,

Adam Rawlings

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