CUPE Continues To Lock Poor Out of Services in Vancouver
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 CUPE members throughout Carnegie Center. 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 member 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 member went 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 many 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.
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.
To read the complete original article, see Downtown Eastside Enquirer
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