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NEWS RELEASE · 26th December 2011
CAW 2300
CAW 2300 TAKES STRIKE VOTE, 100% IN FAVOUR OF ENDING THE REAL "DYSFUNCTION”

The District of Kitimat and the Kitimat Municipal Workers Union Local CAW 2300 are currently negotiating a new Collective Agreement. The current agreement expires on December 31 at midnight.

On Tuesday, December 14th, the Kitimat Municipal Workers Union voted 100% in favour of going on strike.

In a day and age where Unionism is under constant assault throughout North America and generally speaking most union membership is not as robust or as militant as it once was, that number is certainly noteworthy.

So what exactly is going on here?

Well, it should come as no surprise to the readership of the Kitimat Daily and to the community at large, that sadly, the District of Kitimat has a less than perfect reputation for dignified and respectful relationships. The subject of the perceived “dysfunction” in the previous Council has been a hot topic that has damaged the reputation of the D.O.K both locally and abroad.

Kitimat may be “booming”, but in stark contrast the reputation of the D.O.K. has been on a downward slide for years. The residual fallout from the power sales issue, combined with constant public bickering, the safe road of neutrality and the reluctance to take strong positions, along with controversial severance packages leave us all asking just where does it all end?

You've seen the public dysfunction in the light of day, but how deep does it infect the dark recesses of the institution? Is the problem superficial, or is it pervasive and systemic?

Recently we've all heard the views of individual Councilors, Municipal Governance Consultants, and the public all appearing to wish for a more respectful workplace. Yet there is one group who you haven't heard from.

Who better to ask than the very people who live, breath and work in every corner of the institution in question? Who would know better than we?

So what do we the Municipal Workers Union think about the “dysfunction”?

Last month, our Union President, raised the question at the Municipal Elections Community Forum, to give the public an insight into the unseen reality, and to get some type of public admission from the Councilors that things needs to change.

You can view the Question and Answers at the link below (we thank all of the candidates for their answers, but please pay careful attention to Councilor Corinne Scott's very honest and candid answer.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXzTwSRuuCE

So just how are the official roles and human relationships structured in the Municipal Governance model?

Councilor Scott is correct. According to the Municipal Governance model the Mayor and Council are to have no relationship whatsoever with the Unionized workers and all dialogue and information seeking is to be sought and conveyed through the C.A.O (Chief Administrative Officer) as a conduit for both parties. This is certainly something that the public does not know. Absurd as it may seem, that is our reality. Essentially, the unionized workers have no voice, with no freedom of speech and are relegated to second-class citizenship. It is essentially a form of "taxation without representation.” Everything we are, everything we say, everything we need, and everything we do is filtered by Senior Administrators.

Take for example the snow policy change from 3" to 5”, which nearly doubled the snow to be cleared. That poorly considered policy change has made it impossible to provide the level and quality of service the public comes to expect. With a skeleton workforce we simply can't keep up. Why was there absolutely no consultation or input from the workers themselves?

The City didn't even feel obligated to inform the public of the change, so we, the MUNICIPAL WORKERS UNION CAW LOCAL 2300, took it upon ourselves to inform our fellow citizens through union paid advertisements. The Senior Administrators know that the public usually blames us, the workers, because we are visible in the public and on the front lines. We understand that we are easy targets.

When the public is frustrated it's easy to blame the worker that you see, but nearly impossible to target someone pulling the strings in the ivory tower. We accept that this is bound to happen on occasion, but we want you to know that in fact we have no say in improving the services. All policies are conceived, designed, planned and executed by Administration with zero input or consultation with the workers who are the true experts in the field.

What is it that the system fears, that we must be bound in a perpetual media and information blackout?

It is important to note that both Mayor/Council and the Union are not to blame. We are both victims in varying degree. We exonerate our Mayor and Council because they are limited and dependent by the information they receive.

At the root of the problem is a tiny and closed fraternity of a privileged few, elected by no one, and enjoying a monopoly sanctioned and licensed by government. They fear no consequence, because there is no transparency or accountability in the system. These are people who believe they are untouchable and to a large extent this is true.

Under their questionable management and leadership skills, we've remained submissive, obedient, patient and silent for years. The last thing we have ever wanted to do, is to bring our institution into disrepute, but we know that that is the only language that our superiors will recognize. Even while working in these types of conditions, we remain optimistic that at some point, corrective action will restore the District of Kitimat workplace to an environment that the taxpayers expect.

We are in the final week of negotiations and the members have taken their initial strike-vote, with a resounding and determined 100% strike vote. This clearly sends a message that something is wrong, that the members have had enough, and that immediate change is needed.

No one wants to see a strike especially the Unionized Workers, but when you have no voice as is our condition, striking or work protest, is the only vehicle that we have to indicate to the tax-paying public, our real bosses, that something is wrong and that we desperately need their help.

We are very conscious that by striking, we are in effect inconveniencing the very public that we are appealing to for support. We urgently need your support, and we sincerely and deeply hope to avoid a strike if at all possible.

It is a sad reality when you are forced to appeal for justice, assistance and intervention by the denial of service.

Are we exaggerating? No not in the least.

Many know who have worked at the City or to those who have enquired into the matter that the "relationship" is pervasively wrought with disregard, disconnect, bullying, harassment, intimidation and fear all leading to a condition of demoralization and hopelessness. So normal is it, that most don't even bother to report or make complaint, they just learn to deal with it.

All of our members without exception are proud to work for the City, we love Kitimat and appreciate our employment, but as public servants and taxpayers, all we ask is to be respected.

In the midst of such a dire situation, there appears to be signs and indications that our new C.A.O (Municipal Manager) Mr.Ron Poole can offer some hope and a new perspective on the dreadful situation. We can only hope that under his leadership he can offer a new and courageous attitude and solution to this longstanding problem.

In conclusion, we would like to thank our fellow Union Members for coming of age and saying in a unified voice, no more. We would also like to thank the Kitimat Daily for having the courage to post this message It takes great courage to speak truth to power and we, like the Kitimat Daily, will continue to do that simply because its' the right thing to do.

We the Municipal Workers Union wish you and your family Best Wishes and a Happy Holiday season and may we all work together toward a better Kitimat, today, tomorrow and always.

Yours faithfully,

KITIMAT MUNICIPAL WORKERS UNION CAW 2300

EXECUTIVE & NEGOTIATING TEAM
OK Virgil...Thanks for the correction but...
Comment by Bill Vollrath on 5th January 2012
OK, I got that little wording wrong...Bob said they wanted to "have talks" with the unionized workers, not "negotiate" with them. I know the council has not been involved in negotiations but maybe they offered, maybe they didn't. Whatever. They did offer to have "communications" but the semantics of who would be included in the talks prevented the talks from happening. Councillor Goffinet said pretty much the same thing. Here is a link to the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXzTwSRuuCE

Now, I have to ask...How is it that the little error of me mixing up "communication talks" with "negotiation talks" get noticed and corrected but my direct question of "Who are the untouchables?" get ignored?

I Quote:

"At the root of the problem is a tiny and closed fraternity of a privileged few, elected by no one, and enjoying a monopoly sanctioned and licensed by government. They fear no consequence, because there is no transparency or accountability in the system. These are people who believe they are untouchable."

Who are these people?

Thanks, Bill
Mr.Vollrath
Comment by PRESIDENT OF CAW 2300 on 2nd January 2012
Misinformation,does warrant correcting,your comments pertaining to Councillor Bob Corless saying that Council wanted to get involved in negotiations in the past is not correct,Council has never been involved in negotiations. What he was referring to was when a meeting was requested to deal with a personnel issue,by the union,we were unable to come to terms with the meeting,we wanted a private meeting with Council,but the senior administrators wanted to also be there in attendance,and so it never came about.
MEDIA BLACKOUT
Comment by PRESIDENT OF CAW 2300 on 31st December 2011
DEAR, Mr. Bergen I wish I could share information about Negotiations but due to the fact that there is a Media Blackout,I am not able to share that information with the public.I can tell you that we have taken a number of principled issues on this set of negotiations,one of them being the erosion of public services to all of us the taxpayers,especially when we are promoting our community as a Retirement community,thank you for your interest,and a Happy New to you and all of the community.
Vigil's Question to Councillors All Candidates Forum
Comment by Bill Vollrath on 31st December 2011
I just watched the video on Youtube where Virgil Vales asked the council if they would be willing to have dialogue with the unionized workers. It is titled "Does Kitimat Council have a relationship with it's Workers?" Bob Corless replied that the council has offered to get involved in the collective bargaining but they have not been invited in. Has that changed? Are council members still just like regular community members meeting with workers in the field like the rest of us? I never got an answer to my "Illuminati" question either...What are the names of "untouchables?"
Tax payers support
Comment by Ted Bergen on 29th December 2011
Before the taxpayers can support the union workers, we need some information regarding the current negotiations. What is the Union asking for & what is the City offering? Support can not be given based on this artical alone.
apocalypse
Comment by Tom on 29th December 2011
I use to think that the Kitimat daily posted all views whether bad or good and unbiased but I now will argue this is not the case. Why allow some people to use a acronym and some not. This allows you to pick and choose whose views you like and don't ,and takes away any credibility you have in running a professional online newspaper. Freedom to express ones view should apply to everyone not just whom you choose, In my view your policy takes away the very fundamental values of professional journalism which is freedom of the press.I wish you would reconsider and explain your policies better to your viewers. I use to read your newsletter everyday and now feel I am being cheated and not getting unbiased journalism.

COMMENTS ARE WELCOME
Comments must include first and last name, address and phone number for verification of identity. Name will be published - identity withheld by request only if release will cause personal harm.


The above statement can be found at the top right of every front page article. Our policy has been clear for many years.
First name Apocalypse last name now
Comment by Aaron von Schleinitz on 28th December 2011
Then why post Apocalypse now's comments? They're good comments and well written, but if your going to have this policy make it apply to everyone.

If an individual identifies themselves to us and explains their sensitive employment/political position we discuss it among our staff and determine if this person should be permitted an acrynom. In this case that is exactly what happened. We know who he/she is and have allowed this individual to post without revealing their identity.
rot and decay
Comment by maria santos on 27th December 2011
I would like to start by acknowledging and thanking the unionized workers of Kitimat for the courage and unprecedented decision to bring to the taxpayers of Kitimat the long and suffering conditions and injustices imposed on them by their superiors. I would also like to add that some of these managers are also part of the negotiating committee. It is not easy to stand up to your bosses even in this age of human rights and awareness legislation. Your voice and opposition may be construed as (biting the hand that feeds you).

We should support these employees to stand firm in their convictions and ask for support from the taxpayers to pressure our newly elected council to look into these matters. These practices and attitudes are archaic and pervasive and should not be tolerated by our council or citizens. We cannot go back in time or hide. The dirt, rot and decay that exist in offices our district must be cleaned up. Clean up these issues, hold these culprits accountable and mandate them to go to the public employee’s collective bargaining table with good faith and without prejudice we are the taxpayers that also pay these managers their lucrative salaries. These unionized employees are our sons, daughters, grandchildren and our neighbours. We the public will be watching carefully to see how this matter will be resolved.
Anonymous comments will not be posted
Comment by Kitimat Daily on 27th December 2011
Our inbox is flooded again with anonymous comments. Please do not waste your time and ours writing well composed pieces and then not attach your full name and contact information. Names like 'Nechako Parent, Jackson, french, mad citzen and antonio are all interesting but they all get deleted. To avoid wasting even more of our own time we do not even read them.
Wow!
Comment by Irene morgan on 27th December 2011
Way to stand up. Fight back were we're with you. It's about time we hear from the union. That article is very well written. I would expect that the MAyor would contact the union ASAP to get this fixed. I've never heard anything good about the districts managers. We need some new blood up there the new manager needs to get his behind in gear and either fire those bully's or reign them in. Who the heck do they think they are to treat people like that! I'm gonna get hold of their president because we citizens need to get involved. Those employees do agreat job and I never see anyone give them any credit I for one am going to get involved.

Disgusting, I'm so ashamed to hear this crap is happening. Why did they keep quiet so long, well it makes sense if I really think about having worked with abused women in the lower mainland when you get abused abuse becomes the norm and you learn to deal with it like they say.

This really has me upset the new councillors need to show some leadership here if the old guard like feldhoff and co didn't even know this was happening right under their nose then it makes me wonder if they even care.

I'm fuming right now! We talk about chinas labour practices to know this was going on for decades. Shameful is alL I gotta say. Keep up the good fight!
Ending Dysfunction
Comment by Linda Halyk on 26th December 2011
If this is the only way to make change happen, then I will be on your side.

There definitely is a disconnect in this town, between Mayor, Council, the Workers and the citizens. I hope your voices are heard loud and clear by the leaders and voters in this town.

I think every Councilor and especially the Mayor should know exactly how each department is run and running on an on going basis. The CAO and Mayor should be in constant communication as to what is happening in town. I don't believe in MICRO Managers, the CAO has more inportant things to do than field calls all day from concerned public, Mayor, Councilors etc. The Mayor and CAO need to meet regularly, with heads of departments to discuss issues, those meetings are to be transparent ie. brought to council and the public if legally possible. More responsibility and input should be given to department heads, if not, then why do they need to be there, is that not part of their job to liaise between worker and execs.

If we have workers unhappy with their work situations and changes are made arbitrarily to the work they preform, then there will be disgruntled employees and that trickles down to the work they preform. I'm not saying it is intentional or that there is a problem with the work. I'm saying you can only be unhappy etc. for so long before it affects your work. It is a known, proven fact.

The snow removal seems to be a big issue, people have become accustomed to, I will say probably one of the best jobs I've personally seen of snow removal. I truly believe we are spoiled. Every snow year is different, we need to keep that in mind, why can we not have a contingency fund for snow removal. Maybe we wouldn't have had to cut back to 5 inches.

There are many many many issues as to why the snow removal was one of the cut backs, but that's another beleaugered story.

I wish both sides open, honest, dialogue and that issues on all sides are settled responsibly, equitably and in a timely manner.

Wishing everyone a HAPPY and PROSPEROUS New Year.

Wow!
Comment by Irene morgan on 26th December 2011
Way to stand up. Fight back were we're with you. It's about time we hear from the union. That article is very well written. I would expect that the MAyor would contact the union ASAP to get this fixed. I've never heard anything good about the districts managers. We need some new blood up there the new manager needs to get his behind in gear and either fire those bully's or reign them in. Who the heck do they think they are to treat people like that! I'm gonna get hold of their president because we citizens need to get involved. Those employees do agreat job and I never see anyone give them any credit I for one am going to get involved.

Disgusting, I'm so ashamed to hear this crap is happening. Why did they keep quiet so long, well it makes sense if I really think about having worked with abused women in the lower mainland when you get abused abuse becomes the norm and you learn to deal with it like they say.

This really has me upset the new councillors need to show some leadership here if the old guard like feldhoff and co didn't even know this was happening right under their nose then it makes me wonder if they even care.

I'm fuming right now! We talk about chinas labour practices to know this was going on for decades. Shameful is alL I gotta say. Keep up the good fight!
Names of "Untouchables"
Comment by Bill Vollrath on 26th December 2011
Who are the people who make up this "tiny and closed fraternity of a privileged few" who are elected by no one, and enjoy a monopoly sanctioned and licensed by government?