On Sunday October 14th Vancouver CUPE Local 1004(outside workers) voted to accept a deal ending a nearly three month old strike, joining CUPE local 15(Inside workers) which also voted to end its strike just a couple of days earlier. Meanwhile CUPE local 391(library workers) with a more militant rank and file and so far loyal leadership rejected the most recent deal offered them. They took a principled stand in a strong show of solidarity with their union brothers and sisters in rejecting this opportunistic deal which attempted to buy off the votes of half the workers.
Mike Jackson, the president of Local 1004, was quoted as saying "I'm apologizing to the public...The city, they're just as much at fault." The Union leadership is completely out of line in apologizing for the workers' struggle. The attitude of the leadership should be that a few extra garbage bags is a very small price to pay compared to what the benefitless auxiliary workers, some of which have been essentially on call for over a decade, have to face. And, in saying that the workers were at fault, as if this was an administrative misunderstanding rather than a genuine working class issue, almost insinuating the strike action had been innapropriate. Mr.jackson should reconsider his position, or his choice of words.
Of course, with the end of the CUPE 1004 strike, the selfish, narrow-minded conclusion of West Vancouverites was relief that their garbage would finally be picked up. A woman was quoted as saying in the October 15th Globe and Mail, "I'm looking forward to living in a city that's working again." So according to this statement the fact that neglected, exploited city workers who struggle for humble dignity are striking in demand of basic social decency and job security while big-wig municipal bureaucrats are granted disproportionately high pay increases constitutes a dysfunctional city. On the contrary, the recent wave of strikes and labour activity in British-Columbia and elsewhere in Canada is a very positive and necessary sign. Canadian labour will have to strengthen itself in 2008 and beyond in the face of the Conservatives' increasingly neo-liberal agenda of imperial ambitions, and the consequent attack on social services in their war at home.