Saturday, October 27, 2007

CUPE Continues to Lock Poor Out of Services at Carnegie -- as Mayor Sullivan Cowers

Canadian Union of Public Employees has been back to work at Carnegie Center on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside for some time, but they continue to lock the poor out of services.

These povertarians got themselves a 20% raise -- that's what their 17.5% raise works out to with compounding -- which means that after a period of five years, they will have pocketed an extra full year's pay. So why are the services that they are being paid to provide still not being consistently provided at Carnegie Center. This problem began long before the strike and led at one point for calls for a forensic audit.

Striking Vancouver Public Library workers, the last to settle, returned to work at the Carnegie Center branch on Wednesday. But they took the morning off, along with other CUPE members in the building. It was Welfare Day and that is a day when CUPE members and City management refuse to consistently keep services open for the poor. Every Welfare Wednesday, the Carnegie Center closes down for the entire morning until noon; neighborhood residents showing up to use computers or the library stand on the steps. The staff congregate in the theatre for what Carnegie members call a schmoozefest; staff call it a meeting. One woman who has lived on the Downtown Eastside for 35 years and has sat on numerous Boards sees through this. "They just want time off." There are people on welfare all over Vancouver, yet no other community center uses welfare day as an excuse to leave members standing on the front steps.

Not only does Carnegie staff lock the poor out of taxpayer-funded services at the Carnegie Community Centre for the entire morning on Welfare Day, they repeatedly lock them out during "welfare week". A woman went to Carnegie on Saturday, three days after Welfare Day, only to find the Learning Center locked up tight. CUPE members are responsible for keeping it open on Saturdays; on weekdays CUPE members share that responsibility with two teachers paid by Capilano College.

On Thursday, the day after Welfare Day, a woman went to Carnegie to use the 3rd floor computer room which houses nine much-in-demand Vancouver Public Library computers. She found it locked tight and in darkness, in the middle of the afternoon! There were numerous staff persons on the 3rd floor, just meters from the Computer Room at the time. But the excuse is always the same for locking doors: "A volunteer didn't show up." Carnegie has roughly a million dollar wage bill, yet whether services remain open depends on whether some volunteer has gone on a drunk on welfare week.

Even if a volunteer is not drinking, they often have better things to do during welfare week than volunteer for 80 cents an hour in food vouchers at Carnegie. Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty who is paid $104,000 and Assistant Director Dan Tetrault, a CUPE member, have been reminded in the past that they should have contingency plans in place. In a pinch, they could sit in the computer room themselves and keep it open. Or CUPE member and Volunteer Co-ordinator Colleen Gorrie and her assistant Sindi, could sit in there for a few hours. They could use the computer reserved for the monitor. (Sindi could show off her new diamond ring to the people in there, just as she does in her office.) But they never do.

As the poor looking for jobs, or wanting to check e-mail, do course work, or just spend time on the information highway are frustrated by locked doors at Carnegie, Ethel Whitty is at times attending plays performed during the Heart of the City Festival. But her own performance back at Carnegie is what she should be focusing on.

It's not that Whitty and CUPE members such as Colleen Gorrie lack initiative. They started a virtual witch hunt at Carnegie for bloggers who were whistleblowing about locked doors last year. This witch hunt resulted in the barring of homeless man and elected Board member, Bill Simpson, for allegedly being involved in a blog. Whitty has persistently slandered bloggers at public meetings, of course never once providing examples to support her false claims. The police were even called to intimidate bloggers as an apparent favor to a CUPE member, but police admitted in the end that what bloggers were writing was accurate. So much taxpayer funded labour time expended on a 'kill the messenger' strategy, but the poor continue to find doors of services at Carnegie locked in mid-day.

Mayor Sam Sullivan has known about the great taxpayer rip-off at Carnegie since last year and has done nothing. Nada. Sullivan now says that the CUPE strike will not be over until the 2008 Civic Election when he intends to challenge CUPE's attempts to run rough shot over City Hall. But Sullivan is going to have to explain why he has been essentially covering for CUPE at Carnegie.

Related articles:
Carnegie Director Accused of Failing to Deliver Services to the Poor


Cerebus said...

Look, we all know that it doesn't matter what we say or think about all of this, the union has ultimate power over all of us. I agree that at one time the unions were needed to attain a decent wage and to maitain a decent lifestyle. Unfortunately, they have become a monster, unleashing their power upon the masses. The beast has too much power and has to be stopped. Myself, personally, I think that any union that has the power to disrupt the city as it has in the recent past, striking power should be disallowed. Why should I, the taxpayer (which I as a pensioner pay taxes) have to put up with these childlike tantrums of the unions?
As far as Ms Gorrie and the like, They should have been out of wages far longer while on strke so that they would suffer like the single mothers that had to pay out of pocket for daycare because of the strike.
I personally, when I volunteered there, offered to come in and work anytime there was a shortage and was only called in once. It only took a phone call and I was there in 5 minutes.
I know that I seem to be ranting, but it seems that people like myself, who really tried to help out there, are the ones that eventually ended up getting screwed the most. I mean, look at it, I'm not even allowed in the building (not that I would ever want to lower myself to go back there) and I didn't do anything to begin with except for my relationship with a certain person in power.
Oh well. I'm not long for this world anyway due to my health, but, I hope that I'm around long enough to see accountabilty for these people. Is there no such thing as morals?" Greedf, greed greed!!!! What else can I say?!?

dag said...

Yes, "the poor" got screwed. I slap my forehead. Why didn't I see it coming?!


The poor got screwed. Why didn't I write about what was happening so people could see it and detach themselves from the povertarians and assert their own rights to their own self-interest rather than allow themselves to be used as dupes for CUPE?!


Well, at least the people had the sense and the strength to put a stop to the rampage of Paul Taylor and his Stalinist fantasies by controlling the Carnegie Newsletter so they can at least determine that their own voices are know within the community in question.


The folks using the Carnegie Centre, supporters of the unionists, one even posing with a picket sign, others marching on welfare day for them, must have gotten some part of the benefit of the strike? Yes?


But... but... but now that CUPE has twisted the city to get everything they wanted they'll relax a bit and allow that homeless Simpson to come in out of the cold right?


Anonymous said...

It would have been good, but no, each director of the board reversed themselves at the last publications meeting, with one exception, and now there are no limits to Paul's editorial powers. Presumably, some of his close friends are helping him remember some of the more obvious publishing guidelines, but the other abuses go on. Veiwpoints that are not Paul's are not welcome, submissions are thrown out. Come to the next publications meeting, if you are interested in seeing more fairness in the Carnegie Newsletter. It's on the second Wed. of the month, in the Association office, or on the third floor.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the Carnegie should not be closed on any welfare day. I would like the Board to demand that this change. Carnegie is for the area residents not for staff.

dag said...

Any time you deal with Carnegie management or CUPE staff you'll find yourselves faced with master manipulators-- except for the reptilian tailor. You know, the one who lives under the elevator in the bottom of the shaft. The rest are highly paid and experienced manipulators who will have what they want regardless of how they must get it. If it means striking for months on end and denying services to the people, so what? If it means tricking the poor and gullible into supporting the highly paid union members and getting the poor to act as photo-props, they don't care. If it means stooping to smarmy scams like crying about how much they care about the poor and how it is the professional povertarian alone who cares enough to ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING, then they'll pull that stunt too. Nothing is beneath them. They have jobs to do, and their jobs are making money by baby-sitting the people at the Carnegie Centre and places like it; the jobs are not about the people themselves. You could just as easily be sacks of rice or auto parts and the management and staff would still do their jobs and still get paid. The moralistic posing and posturing the minders at the Carnegie do makes for better propaganda when it comes time to demand wage increases. It's not about you. It's their job. You're no more special than sacks of rice. The managers and staff are not your friends. You're simply what they do for a living.

The povertarians aren't going to nod and smile when you want things improved. They'll kick you out. They do to you what they did to Simpson. They can kick out a hundred people and still replace them the next day with a hundred others and still get paid. Carnegie is not for the residents of the area: it is a job for those who work in the industry, and it is a vocation for those who like playing at being missionaries. You'll have to recognize yourselves as colonized people before you see any hope of living your own lives free from the exploitation of the povertarians. If you're sick of being used, then meet and talk about it. Go away from the Carnegie Centre or you'll be watched and kicked out.

You are up against professionals with careers and pensions at stake. The last thing they want is to be like you. They want to keep their cash and their goods and their fun, and they'll toss you in a flash if they think you're spoiling their good deal. You don't count. So organize for yourselves. The life you live should be for you, not a way for others to make a living from.

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