COLUMN: Kindred voice muzzled

No shortage of rhetoric in strike situations, writes columnist Frank Bucholtz, with regard to current job action in White Rock

White Rock Coun. Grant Meyer didn’t attend Monday night’s council meeting. The striking civic workers union effectively blocked him.

Meyer, who is a union worker for B.C. Ferries, was told by his own union that he could likely get a pass to go through the picket lines. But when he asked members of striking Local 402-01 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees for a pass, they wouldn’t grant him one.

It sounds to me like a dumb public-relations move on their part.

One would think a councillor who is a union member might be more sympathetic to their objectives. Preventing a councillor from attending a regular council meeting and doing his duty to taxpayers isn’t likely to soften his heart towards their cause. Nor will his voice be raised at the table where it counts – the council table – on their behalf.

But Meyer also needs to consider his own actions. If this strike goes for a long time, is he going to stop attending council meetings if he can’t get through picket lines?

If so, he should at the very least forfeit his pay, and at the most, resign his seat.

It’s fine to catch up with citizens in other venues, but the primary duty of a councillor is to deal with city business by attending meetings, and casting votes.

One of the most urgent items of business before the city right now is settling this strike, which seems on the surface to be unnecessary and nothing more than a drain on union members’ finances and an inconvenience to residents.

There are apparently only a few issues outstanding, according to what has been released by the two sides. They don’t seem to be that far apart. If that is the case, why is a full-scale strike even necessary?

If the strike has been called due to obstinacy on the part of the city, or of the union leadership, a lot of people will be suffering for nothing. That doesn’t seem to make a great deal of sense.

In the meantime, CUPE local 402-01 needs to stop and reconsider its actions in hindering Meyer from attending a council meeting. While the union likely welcomes the added publicity from having him wait outside, it should give him a pass to attend future meetings.

That would show an understanding of the responsibilities of a councillor on its part.

In the long run, keeping him from meetings will only mean that the viewpoint of a union member isn’t being heard in any council discussions over negotiations.

It may even mean that voters will turf him from council this November, if they perceive that he isn’t doing his job properly by respecting a picket line.

Given the reaction of Mayor Wayne Baldwin, who is the former city administrator, union members might want to have Meyer’s perspective inside city hall, for balance purposes if nothing else.

Baldwin said Meyer is an employer, as such, as a member of council and needs to attend meetings.

He went on to say that if a meeting is cancelled because of a lack of a quorum, he would hold the union personally responsible.

That seems a bit harsh, but it may simply be rhetoric, of which there is no shortage in strike situations,

It does not seem to make any sense to keep a member of council from attending a meeting, particularly if he is more sympathetic to your cause than some others may be. Somehow, that does not seem to be a benefit to the strikers or to the union. However, union politics sometimes defy common sense, and this may be one of those cases.

The bad news out of this strike, for casual visitors to White Rock, is that pay parking will continue along Marine Drive. Despite the lack of union workers, city managers will continue to hand out tickets and collect fines.

Frank Bucholtz writes Thursdays for the Peace Arch News. He is the editor of the Langley Times.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Sven Spichiger, Washington State Department of Agriculture managing entomologist, displays a canister of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a nest in a tree behind him Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. Workers with the state Agriculture Department spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Crews vacuum ‘murder hornets’ out of Washington nest, first-ever in U.S.

The nest found in the city of Blaine near the Canadian border is about the size of a basketball

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Staff members at Surrey Pretrial test positive for COVID-19

Ministry of Public Safety says employees tested positive between Oct. 18 and 23

Upgrades underway at the Sunnyside Reservoir, adjacent to Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, raised concerns among some residents Tuesday (Oct. 20), however, stewards of the park say everything went off without a hitch. (Tracy Holmes photo)
‘No issue’ with South Surrey reservoir drainage, despite trail user concerns: urban forest steward

Forest visitor taken aback by ‘unprecedented flooding’ of trails

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Hydro map showing where power has been knocked out is dotted with over a dozen outages. (BC Hydro map screenshot)
Thousands without power in Lower Mainland on election day

One outage in Langley and Surrey is affecting over 4,000 customers

file
One dead after fiery crash near Agassiz

Agassiz RCMP report a 56-year-old man died Friday night

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Most Read