Sept. 13 2013: Jeff Noonan and the CUPE 1393 strike at UWindsor; short piece on Sept. 9th Democracy Rally at city hall

Click image for more on OPIRG Windsor
Click image for more on OPIRG Windsor

Listen to entire program here:

This was a pre-recorded program and I will not be crossing the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1393 picket lines. I do understand that the union has given CJAM staff and programmers a pass to cross the lines; however, this is a stand I feel I must take because this isn’t just another strike for wages, benefits and working conditions.

This strike is another struggle in Windsor against the agenda of leaders like UWindsor President Wildeman, Mayor Francis and developer Shmuel Farhi  to gut collective agreements and dis-empower working class people so as to further their vision of a city as a place of consumption and spectacle, and a university campus that caters to the children of the wealthy taking classes in programs that are marketable to corporate interests. In 2009, CUPE locals of city workers were on strike for 3 months over privatization and contact language, workers in Unifor Local 195 at  the Hilton Hotel, now owned by Mr Farhi, are being told to take a 20% pay cut, and on campus custodial work has already been contracted out, the Centre for Studies in Social Justice has been eliminated.

Now CUPE 1393 workers are facing the elimination of key components in their collective agreements that leave members at risk. Sure, the cry everywhere is that who today should have job security? Well, who is it that is making work more precarious? It’s not the workers, it’s the leaders of government, academia and corporations who are spinning a tale of woe that is the big lie that working people are a burden and cuts must be made.

Windsor Workers' Action Centre supports CUPE 1393 members in their struggle
Windsor Workers’ Action Centre supports CUPE 1393 members in their struggle (Photo: Paul Chislett)

There is a stark power play at work in this city and campus, and the CUPE strike is the current front line. You’ll hear in a moment a conversation I had with Prof Jeff Noonan where he puts into broader context how this strike is about much more than money: it’s about the very survival of workers in every sense: materially and mentally, because as workers lose bargaining power, that loss cuts to the very core of how we provide for ourselves and families. The loss of bargaining power sinks us all to a level of mere survival in an economy that is excluding more and more people everyday. Our very hope for a decent future is at risk and this, I believe, is all in play on campus right now.

So, no, this is not just another inconvenience for students and others who may believe we live our lives in bubbles that never come into contact with the lives of others. We are all connected and we ignore that at our own peril – yes, it’s that stark.

Professor Jeff Noonan is a professor of philosophy at UWindsor and has been for about 15 years. He is the author of several books and numerous papers, was a member of the coordinating committee for the now closed Centre for Studies in Social Justice, and ran the successful Philosophy for Workers classes and is a founder of the Windsor People’s School. I spoke with Jeff Noonan at his home on yesterday and here are his remarks on the CUPE 1393 strike in the context of the general assault on workers in this city and around the world:

I attended a rally last Monday evening in front of city hall where citizens were calling for an election in Ward 7 to replace Percy Hatfield who left council to run successfully for the NDP in the provincial by-election in the Windsor Tecumseh riding.

Previously city council voted to replace Hatfield by appointment and as that process was not only undemocratic, it seemed that so many people were vying for the job that it was looking like some kind of reality TV scenario was going to be played out to see you would dance, sing or wrestle the best for the job.

A citizen group led by CJAM’s Rose City Politics crew Kieran McKenzie, Rino Bortolin, and Paul Synnott  led the call for a proper by-election and as many of you may know by now, the group was successful Monday evening in convincing council to hold a by-election which will occur Dec. 9th.

You’ll hear the remarks by McKenzie, Bortolin and Synott that evening before the council meeting and a call as well for citizens to become more involved in city politics:

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