I live in Windsor, Ontario, where city workers have been striking since mid-April. There has been no garbage pickup or park maintenance, but I've been happy to see the people of Windsor stepping up to do what they can to take care of the city. People have started going out with their kids to help clean up parks as a way to teach them about littering and keeping the planet clean. One major cleanup by pitch-in.ca folks cleared piles of Tim Horton's cups and other garbage from the riverfront.
Entrepreneurs have also come to the forefront, offering garbage pickup with their trucks and trailers for people who don't want to leave their garbage at the road in the hot weather for rats or raccoons to tear open or to store it in their basements as the city suggests. It's been absolutely heartwarming to see people helping one another in my city.
Apparently, though, this isn't OK with the city workers, who shout at those trying to clean up and have been reported to have even grabbed garbage from workers at local businesses to dump it into city parks. Most startling so far, though, is this cell phone video of a woman shouting at a couple and their granddaughter as they pick up garbage in a park. The woman aggressively approaches them, tears open a bag of garbage and kicks it all over the ground the child and couple have finished cleaning, telling them, "Here's some more garbage, since you think you should be doing our jobs."
The man who shot the video is afraid to be identified because he's worried the union will retaliate against him. Apparently he should be. The columnist who wrote the article on entrepreneurs linked above had his car vandalized after his article was printed for the first time in a long career of controversial writing.
When unions were first started they had a noble purpose - to protect workers from mistreatment and to give them an equal voice when bargaining for their jobs. The high value of the workers protected their jobs when they were on strike and reminded employers of their value.
Over the years this purpose has been completely lost, especially as legislation has taken away the ability of the employer to have equal status when bargaining -striking employees cannot be fired and replaced if others are willing to do their job for less. Although employees' labour does not have the high value it once did, employers are forced to treat them as though it did.
Public sector unions, though, are the worst. When they go on strike they are basically holding third parties - taxpayers and citizens - hostage to get their demands. Because they provide public services, they are infuriated even by something as positive as people working together to make the world a better place.
The rumour here in Windsor is that CUPE president Sid Ryan is using Windsor to set an example and let municipalities know that CUPE will not take lower raises or benefits because of the economic downturn, dispite the hardships their taxpayers might be facing.
If this is true and Ryan is looking to make an example, perhaps he should start with the CUPE picketers who would intimidate, frighten or shout at the people, including children, trying to keep their parks safe.
Cross posted to the Shotgun.