Friday, July 20, 2007

CUPE Strike Chatter at Downtown Eastside Cafeteria

[The following post was e-mailed to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer by a reader whom we know to be a credible person. Like many Downtown Eastside residents, this reader regularly eats at the City-funded cafeteria at the Evelyn Saller Center on Alexender St. You can eat a full course dinner there for roughly two dollars. Lunch and breakfast are even less.]

Hi again. I thought I would write you about the Saller Centre after this morning's display at the center. I couldn't listen to anymore and had to leave without eating, I was that upset. First of all, on a regular basis, we are always made to wait for an extra 10 minutes before the staff gets things ready for us. This means that when they say that the cafeteria opens at 10:00am, it may open then but don't expect the staff to start work for at least another 10 minutes. This is also extended for the afternoon opening of 3:30pm. We also have to wait for an extra 10 minutes then. Sometimes like this morning it was getting closer to the 15 minute mark. Add this up in dollar and cents to see how much money is squandered on a yearly basis. Let's say $20 an hour for 8 employees. 10 minutes twice a day is almost $7 a day per person, times 8 people is $56 a day. Add that up for a year and I figure that the taxpayers waste at least $20,000 a year on cafeteria staff at this one centre alone. AMAZING and nothing is ever said about it.

One of the waitresses started talking union propaganda this morning and telling her coworkers that if anyone should say anything about it, to slow the work down to a crawl. I had to bite my tongue not to say that they couldn't work much slower than they do on a regular basis. Another man asked if they were going to strike and in a very loud voice so that the whole room could hear, she stated that, " you're damn right we are going on strike. Don't forget to recycle your garbage folks!" Clientele were guaranteed by Ernie, the centre's manager that all staff would continue to work through any work stoppage by the union and we would not be affected at all. Finally when one of the men asked her a question that I couldn't hear, but quite civilly I might add, she got angry and told him that he shouldn't listen to the media, that it is always biased and stupid. Gee, I hope that it doesn't include blogging, I didn't think that telling the truth where others won't is stupid, or is it just me that sees this!

This particular waitress has been put on the table for losing control with the clientele before on a couple of different occasions. She has even been forced to take anger management workshops in the past, yet continues to handle herself with the usual union arrogance.

I must be fair here too, saying that the kitchen staff seems to work as they should, but we don't see them as much being behind the scenes in their daily work assignments. The food for the most part is quite adequate and preparing that amount of food on a daily basis can't be a very easy task at any rate.

Finally, when it comes to the statement from the union head himself on the news last night, there will be no overtime work performed by union personnel. Well, I guess that means it depends if you are classified as an essential service or not, (which the center and Carnegie for that matter have not been classified one way or the other, just let slip through without mention one way or the other). My favourite waitress, who also doubles as a washer woman, worked overtime in the Health Services this week doing laundry. She often does this for extra days just about every week. Another waitress doubles as a worker for BC Liquors and uses the centre for extra money. Both of these women said the strike is not about the money.. They always say it's not about the money but sure are fast as hell to scoop it up when it's placed on the table. Greed, that's what it's all about! Our friendly waitress from BC Liquors also has a thing for one of the security men at the centre, pawing at him at every chance when they happen to be on the same shift. Too bad they are both married and not to each other. ;-)

Do Judge Judy [Rogers] or Jackie [Forbes-Roberts] need to know of these people and the rest that I haven't mentioned yet? The centre's management knows of all of the antics that go on there and turns a blind eye to most of it. One day, not long ago the mayor actually showed up to tour the facility and I thought that maybe it might be a little tree shaking but even with him there, we were made to wait the usual 10 minutes.

I'll leave this with you today. I only started taking notes yesterday and you can see what's come up in such a short time. I'll continue taking notes there and if anything drastic comes up, I'll let you know. If you want to post this, by all means do so and I'll leave comments with any new details there. Feel free to contact me any time. See ya later.


wilfr said...

From what I read and heard on the news the Carnegie and the Gathering Place are classified essential.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I heard today that the Gathering Place and Carnegie are for sure. They didn't mention the saller Centre, but I asked around at the Health Services part of it and they assure me that it will be open at least, but not sure if there will be limited services available to us. At least that's a positive! Too bad for the people that will rely on things such as child care, the libraries and other outdoor srevices like garbage pickup.

Anonymous said...

Another day, another serving of frustration! Today, Tuesday, the centre opened up 1/2 hour late due to a study session (?) and even with this extra time, we were made to wait the usual 10 after they had opened before they started serving people. It's just too bad they can't privatize these services to companies that would provide decent services or make it like Carnegie and use a pertcentage of volunteers and cut out the deadwood. I think it's time to deal with these unions and get rid of the arrogant fat cats who depend on them to keep their jobs because without the union they would not be able to keep their jobs with the caliber of work they perform.

Anonymous said...

On Tuesday the 24th of July, from what I hear from the Saller Centre, Carnegie Centre was closed due to the security staff not showing up for work. This came from a supervisor at Saller. I wonder if the staff at carnegie will still receive their pay for a day's work missed due to the negigence of other staff.
I have discovered also that any volunteer run programs at Saller are on hold due to the strike. Even the coffee shop is closed until the strike is over. The staff can work but volunteers can't! This is just jerking us around to show us what kind of power they think they can wield. Maybe when this is all over, we can create some sort of strike of our own and picket theses centres and see if the union will allow them to cross it.

reliable sources said...


Thanks for the input.

Carnegie Centre was open yesterday (Tuesday). Last evening Phil, one of the security guards was there. People recall him because his arm was in a sling.

I got a report that the Library at Carnegie closed for at least a couple of hours yesterday. But food services were open on the second floor. On the third floor, the Computer Room and Learning Centre were closed as they are not considered essential services. The basement coffee shop was open though, using volunteers which is the norm.

I know people were disappointed last evening when the regular Tuesday night cabaret was cancelled in the Carnegie theatre. It's run by volunteers basically so people were upset that it was cancelled. In the afternoon, the regular jam session in the theatre had gone ahead.

I confirmed with someone who ate both lunch and dinner at Carnegie yesterday that it was open. This guy told me that Carnegie was running on a skeleton security crew and that Skip, the Head of Security, was working.

It's too bad the coffee shop run by volunteers at the Saller Centre is closed. I bought take-out coffee there a couple of times and I liked it. If anybody wants a take-out coffee, they can get one for 60 cents in the basement of the Carnegie. Don't go to the second floor; the coffee up there is awful.

Anonymous said...

I had lunch today at Carnegie. Yellow split pea soup with ham. There was not one clean table to sit at. there were scraps of food all over every table. It is like that every time i go, strike or no strike.

wilfr said...

There's a Community Relations Committee meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, July 26 at 4 pm in the Assn. office. Board members supporting William Simpson will be there to put motions regarding the barring. Apparently all members can vote and are welcome to attend.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if my e-mail is being comprimised or not but after posting a few articles on the strike this morning I received an e-mail from CUPE local 15 stating that there was 3 picket captain meetings today and that I should attend one. It looked to me as though they thought I was a member (as if!) and I was expected to be there. For the hell of it I should have gone to one of them with a copy of my e-mail invitation and see what they would say about the whole thing. Interesting if nothing else. It seems like big brother may really be watching.

karmalyzed said...

Community Relations Meeting last night. Check out:,com_smf/Itemid,31/topic,

for a brief description

reliable sources said...


Your source was correct.

You mentioned that last Tuesday, July 24, Carnegie was closed due to security staff not showing up. I responded that Carnegie had been open all day.

But a long term volunteer has correct me. He said that there was a note on the door at Carnegie when people arrived at 9 a.m. stating that the Centre was closed because of lack of staff. But he said the Centre opened at 9:10 a.m.

I guess your source talked to somebody who had seen that poster on the door. People arrive to stand on the steps for 15 or 20 minutes before the Centre doors open and they probably left not realizing that the Centre would open shortly.