Sunday, August 30, 2009

The following from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) tells of how they have withdrawn picket lines from outside group homes managed by the Lanark County Community Living Association. No doubt the bad public image generated by these pickets pretty well required CUPE to pull the picket lines. This, however, leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Strikes at public service workplaces are not like strikes at factories. There is an inevitable third party involved- that part of the public affected by the service that is being delivered. If anything such stokes require a multitude of creative new tactics if they are to succeed. Community outreach is of the utmost importance in such situations, and traditional picket lines are often very much beside the point in whether such strikes are won or lost. This is a humble suggestion, being as the particular situation of certain strikes may make it unrealistic, but the idea of an actual "take-over" of a workplace (once sufficient community links were developed of course) might be an option that would put the onus of continued care on government and management rather than on striking workers. It would depend, of course, and what is happening in Lanark County at the very least points to the need to go beyond "tried and untrue" traditional union tactics. Whatever else one may say it is sure that once one has to depend on politicians that a strike is indeed lost. Here's the story.
CUPE responds to picket concerns, Hillier pushes for settlement - CUPE to withdraw picket lines from group homes but will keep watch for safety ;
Carleton Place, Ont. – The Canadian Union of Public Employees will withdraw picket lines outside Community Living Association-Lanark County group homes in response to community concerns, said Sid Ryan, President of CUPE Ontario, at a joint news conference today with MPP Randy Hillier, who called for a settlement to the strike.

“We are withdrawing our picket lines in response to the concerns of families and advocates because we feel it’s crucial to be responsive to our community,” Ryan said. “We remain alarmed, however, at the number of questionable incidents we have either witnessed directly or have heard about, so we will continue to keep a watchful eye.”

CUPE has recorded a number of safety concerns since “replacement workers” started doing union members’ jobs in early July. CUPE 1521.02, the union representing 90 striking developmental services workers in Lanark County, has reported these incidents to the agency’s executive director, Rick Tutt, who just dismissed them. CUPE has now brought its concerns directly to the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Member of Provincial Parliament Randy Hillier said he appreciated the union’s move.

“When reasonable people work together, they can find reasonable solutions, and I commend CUPE for leading the way,” Hillier said. “I look forward to seeing the agency following suit, getting back to table and negotiating a settlement. This dispute needs to get settled.”

CUPE thanked Hillier for working to find a solution to the current impasse, and urged the employer to get back to the table for genuine negotiations.

“We thank MPP Hillier for his help getting the two sides back to the table,” Ryan said. “Our priority is making sure the people we support get the care they deserve. Community Living Lanark has to join us now and meet us halfway.”

Members of CUPE 1521.02 have been on strike since early July in an effort to stop the erosion of working conditions and the quality of service delivered to Lanark residents with intellectual disabilities.
David Robbins, CUPE Communications
David Shostal, Executive Assistant to Randy Hillier

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