Len (preferred not to give his last name) tree pruner until he got fired 22 months ago (the matter is currently before the Labour Relations Board), Sunday, July 7, outside Ingram transfer station
I've been involved in the union for the last 30 years. I've got three kids. My job now is trying to feed my family. We thought amalgamation would improve things. We were dead wrong. Labour relations are terrible. Management have no respect for people. They keep talking team effort, then they go and do everything they can to kick you in the shins. They spend tens of millions of dollars fighting arbitration rather than trying to establish some real labour relations. It's like the divine rule of fools. How can we cooperate with someone who is trying to make us extinct? They've boasted about meeting their job-cutting targets each of the last three years, and they wonder why they can't keep up. Businesses don't have nine layers of middle management like here. Can you send this picture to my mother in New Brunswick? She'd love to see her boy.
Social worker, Saturday, July 6, outside Commissioners Street dump
This is actually my first day on the picket line. I haven't seen any craziness. But I've heard of people paying private contractors five or 10 bucks a bag to take their garbage away. I've been with the city for 20 years. I decide who's eligible for social assistance. There has been talk of hiring outside people to do our jobs as well. It's been tried in New Brunswick. The program was botched and it ended up costing more money. Who knows what the hell that would lead to here? You'd probably have more people cut off just to save money. The main issue for us is that these jobs, whether it's my job, garbage or whatever, we feel the public sector can do them better. Publicly run services were created in the first place to stop people on council like Mel Lastman giving their crony friends jobs under the table.
Glynnis (preferred not to give her last name)
Welfare case worker, Saturday, July 6, outside Commissioners Street dump
Everyone's saying we're looking for jobs for life, but all we're asking is for people who have a long history with the city to have first crack at jobs that become available. I can't read this strike. All I know is that it's extremely political on both ends -- the city and the union. I'm a welfare case worker... and I can tell you, some of the things I've seen with Metro Housing since they privatized property management would make you sick. Like really at-risk people being evicted for being behind as little as $50 on their rent. It's become a cold-hearted system. Last time there was a labour disruption, the inside and outside workers weren't so together because of some membership issues that were going on. Not this time. We're tight. I'll stay out as long as I have to. I'm good for six months.
Millwright, Saturday, July 6, outside Ashbridges Bay treatment plant
We're not hearing too much from union head office here on the line. We're just hearing what you're hearing on the news. There's some frustration setting in. We're just normal people. We've got mortgages and kids. The province says the city hasn't been doing enough to cut jobs. That's not true. This plant used to have 500 people, now there's fewer than 200. All the water that's used in the city passes through this plant. They've trained us to multi-task. I can see a lot of people getting burned out. People from the ivory towers downtown are in there now. They're getting paid 24/7. They've got catering, satellite, cable TV, BBQs -- the whole deal.
Shelter worker, Sunday, July 7, outside Ingram transfer station
The medical officer of health thinks there's a health hazard here, but if it's healthy enough for us to picket here, I think then she's overstating her case. There are just a few flies. The spraying has been so effective that it's not even that smelly. I'm a 25-year employee. I'm OK. But the people being hired now have no job security. The city is not devoting the human resources needed to settle this strike. I think they're being punitive and vindictive. They're spending an enormous amount of money on security and overtime for management. This whole thing is stupid, because the difference is very slight. If the unions don't take a stand, there's going to be a degradation of services and wages, and this city is already difficult enough to survive in.
Concerned citizen, Saturday, July 6, outside Commissioners Street dump
I'm a lab technologist with OPSEU who's here to show support for my brothers and sisters. The provincial government wants to do exactly the same to us with privatization. We were on strike for eight weeks. I should be out at the beach enjoying the sun, but this is too important a fight. Look, other countries have tried privatization and they created a big mess and slowly but surely ended up going back to the old way of doing things. If anything, the citizens of Toronto are going to suffer. I can tell you from what I see happening in my hospital. I used to be a postal worker. I know what it's like to have supervisors constantly harassing you. Working in the public service sector can be like a military camp. I just want people to make a decent living.As the Tories bring in back-to-work legislation, the people who really make this city work have a lot to say about how our services are going down the drain while political honchos fatten the wallets of their friends.It's all on the line