Not smelly yet...
A ray of hope shone late Tuesday evening for those affected by the Vancouver civic strike.
The labour action, which covers everything from day camps and swimming pools to garbage collection and building permits, is only in its fourth day, but the impact is already been felt throughout the City.
The City of Richmond, which bargains separately from the rest of the GVRD municipalities, announced that it has come to a deal which would provide labour stability for five years - until 2011, long after both the Olympics and the civic election cycle have passed.
Although the terms of the agreement weren’t released publically, the media have been reporting it as a rich package and a five year contract.
This puts the City of Vancouver back to the table – they really don’t have a choice now that a junior muni to the south has cut a deal with one of the toughest negotiating unions on the block, CUPE.
The civic worker squabbling is based around a couple of key points: money and benefits, obviously, but also length of contract.
The City owes it to residents to have labour peace during the Olympics.
And CUPE wants to make sure that if the City is aiming for peace, it is going to have to pay through the nose for it.
And that is the key issue that the entire conflict centres around.
Place that big elephant in a council chamber that just voted to increase property taxes and add a smidgen (or dollop) of partisan point-taking by union-funded Cope and Vision Vancouver and you get a situation with the potential to last for months.
Fortunately, the City of Richmond pulled off a deal with its workers in the eleventh hour, which places a whole bunch of pressure on both CUPE and the City to move quickly and find a resolution.
There is nothing quite like pressure from the neighbours to get the deal done.
The first week or two of a civic strike is mostly inconvenience – seniors and kids missing their recreation centres, delays to receiving permits for new construction, slightly fuller garbage cans. But by the end of next week, if this thing drags on, our town will be getting smellier and much less “fun”.
Those of us around during the last strike in 1998 remember the swarms of flies that hunkered down around the city.
The teams in Richmond have shown us that it can be done. It will be expensive – but so will a strike in the middle of tourist season.
Both sides have spent the week taking shots at each other through the media – now it is time to get back to the table and sort it out.