Toronto Civic Workers Strike and the City Dumps on the Poor


The people of Toronto are not sharing the brunt of this garbage strike equally. People in fancy condos, with cars, or affluent enough to afford private waste collection are barely aware the strike is even occurring. Just look at the city government’s continued stance, they’re pretending that this is actually a good thing and that we can cope and save money in the process. The reality is the poorer you are, the more garbage you’re currently dealing with. I rent an apartment in a fully attached house and i have no car. I can either pile garbage in my kitchen or on the front lawn. The stink and flies from the front of the house are permeating into my front room even with all the windows shut. If we have a heat wave i will not be able to use my living room.

Don’t be deceived. The garbage is still in the city, and we’re paying to store it. There is no way we are saving money.

This is my living room. For real.

This is my living room. For real.

Ok so that’s not my living room. . . .If everyone was as affected negatively as I am, the pressure to end this strike would be overwhelming. Instead the city has allowed half the population to ignore the problem.

There are not a lot of topics I’ve done three posts on, but my computer is in the living room and its hard not to be thinking about this. Also see Toronto Garbage Strike Ends! and Tips For Dealing With Your Garbage

This is a legal strike and the union is not asking for an increase, i support them.

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My city councilor Cesar Palacio left me a flier yesterday. It says that he supports the city’s action so far in the strike and that he has successfully closed one park dump and opened a more appropriate one. I know these parks, one is nearer to the housing projects. Some prissy dog walkers couldn’t be asked to share their space at Earlscourt Park with garbage anymore so instead the single mother with no car is taking her kids to the Campbell Avenue Playground and Dump. I promise i will never vote for my Ward 17 councilor Cesar Palacio after his support of these elitist city run “solutions”.

So why is this happening? Well the city knows that if large buildings or rich neighbourhoods have to deal with garbage, there’s going to be hell to pay. The poor are easy to ignore, we have little influence and are too busy working to stir up much of a fuss. They figure they can wait out the union membership who are surely reeling from more than a full month without pay. Pile the garbage on the poor, have managers clean up street cans for news shots and pretend that we don’t need garbage men. All so they can take away some sick days.

Garbage, what a shitty band.

Garbage, what a shitty band.

Motivated more by inconvenience than by principles, many members of the public are spouting off about firing all these workers or arresting them etc. . . .Usually citing a private sector worker who recently had to deal with a loss. People used to be proud of a days work, now they’re proud of doing a days work for less. Worse still, they love sabotaging people who are getting a fair deal. Proud of less, happy to loose a job. Heads on backwards.

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Compare civic workers to a private sector worker making $10 an hour. If the private worker has a family, he’s working 70-80hrs a week to afford the cost of living in Toronto- never seeing his kids. I’m proud of the fact that our society can pay labourers sufficiently to raise families. 40 hours a week should be enough to raise a family, if it isn’t, we’re dictating that certain classes cannot have families.

City councilors aren’t personally dealing with garbage, neither are the retail owners who grossly over package their goods. The union did not dump garbage in my park. The union did not force people without cars to sit on their garbage. If the city hadn’t used its managers as scabs to provide selective service this strike would have been long since over. Instead half the city is completely unaware and apathetic while the poorer half is living in total filth. And the real injustice? Its working. People are so stupid they’re blaming the union for this. Wise up people, they’re workers like you. The only thing a worker can do to prevent loosing things is stop working. If you are essential to your workplace and the boss told you he was cutting you’re income, you’d probably raise up a stink, maybe even walk out. Unless of course you’re a total pussy or completely fucking stupid.

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11 Responses to “Toronto Civic Workers Strike and the City Dumps on the Poor”

  1. exuvia Says:

    This certainly added to my perception.

    Up until now I thought that the famous pyramid structure and the essence of Power had mainly focused on the military and the police as an intermediate level installed and fed in order to keep the insatiable envy of the not so fortunate abreast from their table of plenty. How could I have missed out on the garbage people. Of course these souls also work for money. Altruism and social justice is not a mission and a vision of garbage companies. They like every one else dance for coins.

    In the pyramid, the garbage people rank between the epitome of rich and the every day man. They are hired by politicians to reinforce the good and quality of life of fortune.

    That is just how it works.

    The military, the police and the garbage people are not supposed to revolt… just dance.

  2. exuvia Says:

    An Atlas under the weight of filth:

    What if the work with garbage became socialized? If people would get out on the streets, expropriate their own excess and lift up their sacks in affront to show their will…

    What if every one picked up his garbage and marched to a nice open park in a nice neighborhood?

    What would happen?

    Oh, what a horrible imagination. Too much coffee has set my head spinning. I am glad no one has come up with such stupidity. I am a firm believer in law and order, in the army, the police and the garbage people.

  3. exuvia Says:

    An Atlas under the wight of filth:

    Give me an E, what does that spell, what does that say: Weight, weight, weight…

    • remistevens Says:

      I was picturing a clocked undead creature composed of trash. Some sort of dark garbage lord demanding Atlas keep him elevated.

      Always a pleasure Exuvia

  4. remistevens Says:

    Government, its an odd pyramid. Democracy only really exists at the very top and the very bottom. We elect the political leaders, and the union elects its leaders.

    Somehow only all the coin dancers in the middle have no voting right towards the direction of their service. That’s why they’re all out taping off the public garbage bins and doing dump duties in the parks.

    And they’re the people who can be fired in an instant, completely unprotected. I work with a guy who has 30 years of union seniority. He knows everything there is to know about our workplace. They offered him a big raise and a lofty new position in management. He refused because he knows that managers that aren’t working out get fired in 6 months.

    Managers make enough money to compensate for their fleeting positions. People who will never be managers need job security, its something the unskilled will never have without a union.

  5. exuvia Says:

    Interesting… the hit and run wages paid to get the job done. Later you relocate and get a new identity. You can afford to get lost.

  6. exuvia Says:

    An occasional top manager breaks the silence and tries to clean up his consciousness.

  7. Mr. Anti-Blog Says:

    There seems to be an underlying theme of, rich vs. poor and that only when the rich are effect would there “be hell to pay.” Interesting, because I thought everyone’s vote counted equally.

    Mr. Stevens would lead you to believe that affluent people are barely aware of the strike. Is one to believe that these affluent people do not go for walks, use the parks or generally have no sense of smell and no powers of observation to notice the overflowing refuse bins and garbage tumbleweeds on the streets of Toronto? Garbage is not a reality for the rich or the poor; it is a reality for everyone. If someone does not have a car, ask a neighbor, put it on a bike, cart, etc. and drop it off.

    In response to the blanket statement that “There is no way we are saving money”, I’d like to present the argument that the Mr. Stevens writer have no concept of basic economics. Do you really think the cost of not paying 18,000 (CUPE Local 79) and 6,200 (CUPE 416) workers for 36 days is equal to the cost of putting a make-shift fence around city owned land and having non-unionized employees that you would have to be paid anyway handle the drop-off? Welcome to strike economics 101; the strike will pay for itself when the total wage savings during the strike equal the workers higher demands over the upcoming contract term. Of course this also sets a higher base for the next negotiation but why fix the long-term problem as by that time it will be someone else’s turn to deal with it.

    The union is not asking for an increase? I’d call 6% over 3 years an increase. One of the fundamentals that have been overlooked is that with the current salary of the workers, 3-4 weeks’ vacation, 18 bankable sick days and pension plan the amount we are paying workers is way above market. That’s why outsourcing is so much less expensive. I’m not saying we should outsource, but somewhere along the way the fundamentals have gotten way off base. Do I need to remind you what happened with the unions at GM and Chrysler? Where are those jobs now? Normally I would support a 6% increase over 3 years as that would be typically in line with inflation. Guess what, today it’s not. We’re currently at 0.3% deflation. Unemployment is going to crest about 10%, most people’s salaries have been frozen or rolled back and these guys are asking for an increase and for the taxpayer to foot the bill? Come on, wake up!

    As for sick days, let’s call this what it really is. This is just a form of back-door compensation. Its accumulated and paid out on retirement. Wait, this sounds familiar… if it walks like a pension plan and talks like a pension plan…

    I don’t think anyone will argue that we do need garbage men, but what should we pay them? If you look at the overall economy, private sector workers are compensated more than public sector employees. The higher the level’s you look at, the greater the imbalance. I know I’m going to regret this but David Miller, (I’m not a fan) as head of an organization that has a $20B budget would be grossly underpaid if you compared his role to the private sector, so would all the councilors. I’m not suggesting they should get raises. They have chosen to serve the public but their compensation can’t get too far behind as many good people will leave the public sector in favor or the more lucrative private sector positions. We then get people that don’t know what they’re doing or how to manage running the show. Oh wait, are we there already?

    As for how we compensate the garbage men, let alone any position in public or private sector, I’d argue that if the cost of outsourcing is a savings of 50% then something doesn’t smell right. If you want to subsidize all public workers, may I remind you they tried this is Russia, East Germany and still have it in Cuba. How did that work out?

    Let’s not forget who pays all these workers, the taxpayers. Should we all be subsidizing these workers higher compensation? I’ve heard the arguments about what’s wrong with $2/month, we can all afford it. The fact is we can’t. This all adds up and before long, $2 here and $2 there adds up to a lot of money. Mr Stevens goes on to say, “I’m proud of the fact that our society can pay laborers sufficiently to raise families”. Fantastic, I think that’s wonderful. To afford all this we have to raise taxes (remember the land transfer tax last year). Congratulations we just made it more unaffordable for the less affluent to afford a house (and a car to drop off that garbage).

    The city finances are a mess and I do agree that some of this has been due to mismanagement. No it’s not entirely the unions fault but holding the city hostage for well above market compensation based on some misconstrued sense of entitlement is not reasonable.

    The city has a fiduciary duty to get its finances in order and is doing so. The City cannot give in to ever special interest group as in the end everyone pays for it. Taxes in Toronto are already way ahead of most major cities. Why would a business come here to set up shop and in the end create new jobs. The reality is that business are leaving Toronto to go to the suburbs where taxes are lower, Toronto is earning less revenue, causing the city to increase taxes hence again becoming less competitive and the cycle repeats itself. Let’s get back to economics 101, falling revenue and increasing costs equals a deficit which we can’t have. We then have to either find new sources of revenue (property tax) or cut services.

    As for the “managers as scabs”, is Mr. Stevens suggesting we go back to the dark ages and let the garbage rot everywhere? Is he also suggesting these same scabs stop operating the sewage plants and basic sanitation? Do we stop repairing our bridges, caring for our elderly, close our shelters, beaches, and libraries? I’m sure that would be great for tourism in these critical summer months. Again the city is fulfilling its fiduciary duties and these managers who are working around the clock to prevent anarchy get labeled as scabs, shame on you.

    Of course, in the end, the city will most likely cave in and taxpayers will pay more for less services increasing the uncompetitive of our great city and again short-term thinking will overrule long-term stability and responsibility.

    So Mr. Stevens, I’m not a total pussy nor am I completely fucking stupid. I actually have the facts and have based my view on the data, economics, responsibility and a sense of fairness for all and not special interest groups. Perhaps if you did the same and did not rely on feelings, judgment and a macro view of the underlying, you wouldn’t have wasted everyone’s time with your rant.

  8. remistevens Says:

    Thanks Mr. Anit-Blog, glad you’re keeping this on the up and up. Nice to hear from someone anti-union who isn’t just shouting about shooting all the picketers or exiling them etc. .

    You voted on the strike negotiation? I missed that one. . . .Listen, If the Stevens household calls the mayor with suggestions at the same time as the Weston family, who gets put on hold? I’d be lucky to wait 2 hours to talk to an intern, but the owners of Loblaws, well I’m sure they could get the mayor’s ear. Influence over public policy is anything but equal.

    Sure, you would have to be under a pretty giant gold rock to miss the strike entirely. The fact is I and my poor car-less neighbours have piled garbage on the front lawns of our attached houses- no rich person is dealing with that reality. You can pretend we’re all suffering equally, but your livingroom doesn’t stink like garbage and mine does.

    Please refer to waste management 101. Garbage that’s still in the city has not been managed. This is physics man, its incredibly simple. Taking trash to the park, storing it and then removing it can not be more efficient than taking it out of the city all at once.

    I’m thinking you’re a businessperson, you people have got a thousand clever backwards ways to throw around figures. . . . My grocery costs have spiked dramatically over the last year. The deflation you’re depicting does not exist within the realm of the working poor who allocate a much larger portion of their total income towards necessities. I assure you my cost of living continues to inflate aggressively. If my wage went up only %6 over 3 years my standard of living would go down.

    Sick days, vacation, pensions. . . .Its all a part of their ‘deal’, their income. Slam it all together and it would be one yearly figure, don’t confuse the issue by trying to claim that one part of their income is somehow any different from any other part.

    So these civic workers are “above market”, fine I’ve already stated this. You’re proposing we lower them to the private sector standard where labourers work 70 hour weeks to support their families. You think this is just? Sounds a lot like slavery to me.

    Civic workers are getting a fair deal, private comparisons are getting ripped off. The “market” you mention is one where the poor have no choice but to work for scraps. Is that really the standard we should strive to put all workers into? Wouldn’t it make more sense to support the few who’ve got a fair deal? Why drag them all down into poverty?

    Public sector unions are not the same as private sector. Your comparison to the auto industry is false. Toronto is not selling cars, we will need our garbage picked up in any market. The labour costs do not affect the need for the labour. As well, if more people were making a fair income, there would be many more people buying new Chryslers and GMs. Here’s some good economics 101 for you: workers make more money, they spend more money and have more time to spend money. Meaning more taxes collected, stronger economy. You don’t take money from the people to strengthen the economy, where would that ‘circulation’ you conservatives love come from.

    The less affluent don’t own houses in this city, we clean them. The working poor couldn’t care less if property taxes go up. On the other hand a slight percentile wage increase goes a very long way.

    Again confusing rich and poor situations. Private sector labourers are not compensated more than public sector labourers. Maybe in management its true, but its completely false for the rest of us. Unionized labourers are doing better than non-unionized, i promise you that.

    And now Mr. Anti-Blog starts rolling out some old conservative relics:

    Unions=Communism

    . . . .Love that one. We’re talking about democratically run unions in a democratically run country with strong international trade alliances. Somehow that is the same as failed socialist dictatorships suffering stiff embargoes. Come on, I thought you’d be above this one.

    ‘Special Interest Groups’

    . . . . .. Another classic. Civic workers, gays, environmentalists, breast cancer survivors, all grouped into one big entity that is stealing from the public coffers. Lets hate them all!

    The Corporate Extortion Argument

    . . . ..: we need to bend over backwards to appease big daddy corporate or he’s going to kick us out of the house and suspend our allowance. Business is here, customers are here, you think if taxes went up a little all the stores would close and everyone would leave town. Corporate will be able to turn a profit from this population no matter what the tax. . . … I got it, lets completely deregulate industry and eliminate all corporate tax, I want to be taken advantage of by the best!

    They’re not holding the city hostage, their holding their employer hostage. If it wasn’t so visible an employer you wouldn’t even be aware it was happening. Workers need to be allowed to stand up for themselves, unless you’re proposing we turn the clock back 150 years.

    Yes of course, let the garbage rot where it is. The people who pick up garbage are not working, so garbage should not be picked up. If the guy making skates stops working, we should have no new skates. If the mailmen go on strike, there should be no mail. In your world mail would still be selectively delivered for the affluent. . .. Scab is an apt term. There is a wound, they scabbed it over- look it up, it wasn’t an insult. If anything i feel more for these managers than anyone. They have zero rights in their workplace and could be fired in an instant. You would like this to be the case for everyone, but managers make a lot more money than labourers- managers can afford precarious job security, the rest of us cannot.

    Outsourcing and underpaying labourers would be cheaper, absolutely. No one labouring in Toronto will ever see their families again, sounds fair.

    Nice try, you didn’t even answer the question, taking things out of context. If you were essential to your workplace and your employer wanted to decrease your income would you react or would you be a total idiot and/or pussy?

  9. Don’t blame people, blame Walmart for death « The Remi Stevens Bolg Says:

    […] his family has already received a massive settlement to make the matter go away. Since there is no union at walmart, there is no one to argue in defense of employee safety here. This will be summed up to people […]

  10. Plurolashaunda Says:

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