(title acts as a link to the January 8th 2012 Toronto Sun article entitled "City won't play into unions' hands")
Alright, well I'll start this piece of writing by admitted something about myself. I am currently (and for the foreseeable future) a member of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) which represents me and my fellow employees at my place of work.
And you would think that this fact would automatically predispose my opinion to be in support of everything union.
But, you'd be sadly mistaken.
Those who I do support are those that often don't get properly represented during labour tensions: the employees themselves.
I know that, like myself, the vast majority of employees who're also members of the various labour unions just want to be able to do their jobs and get their paycheques. They just want to be able to pay the bills and keep on top of the everyday struggle of maintaining the Canadian ideal and quality of life.
But the unions seems to have something else in mind. In their crusade for higher wages, more benefits and a greater job "security", they are infuriating those who are actually signing and distributing the paycheques so desired by the employees (be the employer a government body or otherwise).
Further than simply widening the massive chasm between the employer and the the union, this attitude is being thoroughly tested by the budget crunch the City of Toronto finds itself in.
This is not a new problem; not even close. The financial pressure vessel in Toronto has been threatening to explode for many years. Yet, previous mayors and councillors in the city have ignored it and just decided that spending more money (they didn't have then, and certainly don't have now) would make the problem go away. It took the fiscal conservatism of the Rob Ford administration to reveal just how badly run the city has been in recent years.
"Stopping the gravy train at city hall" was arguably the mainstay slogan of the mayoralty campaign for Rob Ford and his supporters. Residents of Toronto voted him in with a strong majority. Now that his administration has revealed the extent to which the city has been deluding itself, the more liberal-leaning councillors and even some outspoken residents are viciously campaigning against the cuts to services needed to bring the bottom line back into the black.
CUPE local 416 and 79 are the representatives of nearly 30,000 inside and outside city workers, and are at the forefront of the crusade against the Ford administration.
Now, anyone who had any knowledge of municipal politics and the power paradigm prior to Rob Ford being elected would have definitively been able to say that the two political ideals would come into conflict sooner or later.
Now they have, in a big way.
CUPE leaders are taking out advertisements on television, radio and newspapers across the city and Ontario as a whole to drum up support for the demands they're placing on the city. But unlike previous administrations, they will not force the city to borrow money in order to meet demands that far outstrip the ability of City Hall to fund.
Because the whole story is still unfolding, I'll leave the details and further discussion to later posts.
Regardless of what happens, 2012 is shaping up to be a very interesting year on many fronts, especially in municipal politics in the City of Toronto.