Monday, June 14, 2010
When a CUPE representative abuses a blogger, does anybody see? The above video of a CUPE representative roughing up a pro-Israel blogger last month for using a video camera at a rally, was posted on YouTube. But the public generally doesn't see video footage of abuse tactics employed by CUPE members against people who don't share their political views.
Certainly the public doesn't see CUPE abuses of people at Carnegie Centre who dare speak to bloggers who criticize CUPE, people who are almost without exception too poor to afford lawyers. These people can get roughed up physically by CUPE "security" at Carnegie, but more often they are simply targeted for permanent removal from this taxpayer funded Centre.
I was reminded of what is not being seen when Pivot Legal Society announced they had been granted a hearing at the BC Human Rights Tribunal on May 31, 2010 about "removals" of poor people from public spaces. Pivot's complaint was not about Carnegie. It was about removals by the Downtown Ambassadors who work for the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association. The Ambassadors earn lower salaries than CUPE members -- a welfare recipient who takes a security guard course can sometimes get a job strutting around in an Ambassador uniform -- who guide tourists and ask the poor and downtrodden or addicted to stop sitting in doorways, on sidewalks, or on benches, to leave and not return.
These "removals" by Ambassadors from public spaces no doubt do constitute Charter violations, but the Ambassadors will have to work to catch up to CUPE members who have been performing these "removals" for thirty years at Carnegie Centre. CUPE members at Carnegie keep a gigantic black binder documenting such "removals", on the front reception desk, like a trophy. A victim's account of a removal -- they call them "barrings" at Carnegie -- is not considered a necessary addition to the binder. When Pivot was asked to help put a stop to these abuses, after CUPE "security" executed the removal of an elected official who happened to be poor and homeless and didn't happen to share their politics, a female Pivot lawyer refused to challenge Carnegie, saying, "But they're our friends."
The Downtown Ambassadors are not Pivot's friends....because they are not CUPE's friends. The Downtown Ambassadors are infringing on CUPEs turf. The job description of the Ambassadors, according to the website of the DVBIA, is to complete "daily incident reports on issues attended to". That's what CUPE members at Carnegie do -- not only Carnegie "security" staff but Carnegie street workers too, some of whom have been caught working with police to deter criticism of CUPE members. If anybody is going to be restricting the civil liberties of the poor, or kicking the arses of bums, let it be somebody paying CUPE union dues, or CUPE will fight it like it's contracting out.
Former Pivot Executive Director, David Eby, was criticized last year in the comment section of Jamie Lee Hamilton's blog, Oldtown, for ignoring rampant civil liberties abuses at Carnegie. Eby responded that Pivot could not tackle all of the problems in the Downtown Eastside. He's right. But Carnegie Centre is considered "the livingroom" of the Downtown Eastside, a pivotal institution. Pivot has to really work not to see the human rights abuses going on there.