Toronto Garbage Strike Over? – David Miller Cave-In

by Mike Holman

Well, the garbage (and others) strike is over here in Toronto – I have to say that I thought Miller caved in the end.  My only question is – couldn’t he have gotten this crappy deal a lot sooner?  Most Torontonians weren’t inconvenienced by the strike very much but a lot of businesses were as well as low-income families who lost their daycare.  Oh well – it’s not like it really matters that much.  New York City went bankrupt (or did they?) and they seem to be doing ok.

The big issue for this strike was the sick day banking policy where workers can bank up to 18 sick days (that’s a lot of sick days!) and then take half their future value upon retirement.  For a long-time employee it could result in a maximum of 6 months extra pay upon retirement.  Sweet deal – no wonder they wanted to keep it.

David Miller (Mayor of Toronto) had said that his goal was to eliminate this policy and wanted a deal where existing banked days were paid out and no new days could be accrued.  Fair enough, I can get behind that.  6 weeks later he caves and strikes a deal where the existing sick bank policy is unchanged for existing workers – only new hires won’t be able to bank sick days.  That will save a lot of money…in about 25 years.

To be honest I don’t think the ability to bank sick days is the biggest deal around – I had no idea the City of Toronto employees had it until a couple of months ago, plus lots of other unions have it.  As much as I’d like to see it gone – it’s not going to change my life much either way.

However, the annoying thing about this particular cave-in is that I’m positive this deal could have been done at the beginning of the strike.  Of course I could be wrong since I wasn’t at the table but that seems to be what I’m reading in the papers.  If you are going to try to force the union to make a major concession then you have to ready for a long strike, if not then don’t bother with the strike.  The funny thing is that I think most Torontonians were behind Miller since everyone who doesn’t work for the city thinks the union workers are all a bunch of overpaid slackers.  Miller had a golden chance to get a good concession – if not on the sick bank, then on something else and he blew it.

If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’

One of the oddest thing I read in the paper today was a description of the David Miller news conference where he kept trying to insist that the sick day banking policy had been “eliminated”.  Here is an excerpt from the Toronto Star from the news conference which was strangely reminiscent of the Monty Python dead parrot skit.

To add insult to injury, Miller now insists on selling spoiled goods. “We’ve eliminated the sick bank,” he said, 12 TV cameras rolling and frustrated reporters rolling their eyes yesterday. Torontonians should be “extremely pleased,” he said. And no doubt, at least the 30,000 strikers are – even if they are miffed at walking the picket line for five weeks to maintain the status quo.

But tried as he may, armed with lawyerly hairsplitting and a politician’s doublespeak, he couldn’t convince that Toronto’s five-week municipal strike was worth the trouble.

The sick-bank “phase-out” saves “millions and millions and tens of millions.” But asked to be specific, Miller said he didn’t know and refused to “speculate.”

Told that he couldn’t say the sick banks are ended when workers still have the choice of sticking with the old sick-days plan, Miller persisted:

“The provision is ended.”

“Why the doublespeak? Why do you continue to do this?” a reporter challenged.

“With great respect,” the mayor said, “I don’t think this is doublespeak; this is the fact.”

Well, you judge.

A 35-year-old civic worker, employed for 10 years, is entitled to continue banking 18 sick days a year, and do so for the next 30 years – and the mayor says the provision is ended.

Pushed and cajoled, Miller adopted a compromise offered by Star reporter Donovan Vincent. “Phase-out.”

Some Links From Around the Web

Baker from Man vs. Debt has another great update from his big voyage to Australia and now New Zealand with his family.

Baker also sent this “motivational” link – I have to admit it was quite inspirational

Million Dollar Journey gave some advice to a reader about paying down debt or investing – I thought his advice was spot on.

Financial Blogger tells an interesting story about a friend of his who flew his girlfriend to London (the overseas one) for a weekend to propose.  While this sounds neat I thought this was a bit over the top.  Personally I’d rather do the proposal somewhere cheap (like my living room for example) and then spend the money on a honeymoon later on.

The rest of the links

The Dividend Guy talks about alternative investments.

The Oblivious Investor wrote about low-cost, socially responsible mutual funds.

Top Economy Blog says that the economic recovery has started.  But it might take a while

Canadian Capitalist did a review of Scotia iTrade discount brokerage.

The Intelligent Speculator says that Yahoo is toast.

Good Financial Cents has some Cash for Clunkers Tax Rules.

Investing School has a comparison of online brokerages (American).

ABCs of Investing wrote about the risks of fixed income investments (such as bonds).

Money Ning did a Trade Monster review.

Carnivals

Festival of Frugality

Carnival of Money Hacks

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