A reflection on the civic labour dispute
(This was written Aug. 7 for Town Crier.)
So the 39-day strike is over.
Are you still wondering who emerged victorious from this civic battle?
“Everyone loses. Civility is lost. Spin replaces truth. The Canadian sense of compromise is compromised,” lefty councillor Joe Mihevc tells me. “I don’t know any strike where people can say, ‘this ended well’.”
No one wins in a strike, Mayor David Miller said repeatedly at press conferences and I agree.
But clearly this messy public fight can’t be summed up as simply as “everyone lost”. So I’m taking a closer look at exactly who won and lost from the point of view of the residential taxpayers, the City of Toronto and unions.
I also looked at the labour unrest from the perspective of businesses, the mayor and society at large, click here for that story.
It is easy to know who lost and that’s taxpayers, right wing councillor John Parker tells me.
“At a time when others are taking pay cuts or having their salaries frozen, the city has agreed to give its unionized workers six percent (raise) over three years,” says Parker, a member of the unofficial opposition to the mayor a.k.a. the Responsible Government Group.
The city calculates the net wage/benefit increase as 5.6 percent over three years adding a total of $75.61 million to city spending between now and 2011.
At the beginning of bargaining CUPE locals 416 and 79 were asking for a 12 percent hike costing $114.56 million over a three-year contract.
So taxpayers saved $38.9 million with this deal, according to the city.
The city phased out the employee sick bank plan and expects to save $140.7 million over five years.
During the strike residents lost nearly all the municipal services they pay for. There was no garbage pick-up, daycare, camps, pools, permits, ferries to the islands and so on (rebates were issued in some cases).
Those near the 26 temporary dumps lived with a mountain of rotting garbage that was not picked up for the entirety of the strike.
One upside, communities did “win” as they came together to mow fields so kids could play and cleaned up neighbourhood garbage.
City of Toronto