Residents Cross Picket Line to Mow Windsor Park
With no end in sight to the outside city workers strike in Windsor, Ontario, which started April 17th, an estimated 100+ residents of all ages spent Sat., May 30/2009 mowing two-foot-tall grass, trimming, raking and sweeping up the grounds of one of the city's most prized parks.
Surrounding the stately Willistead Manor, former home of Edward Walker, son of Canadian Club whisky founder, Hiram Walker, this 16-acre park is owned by the city of Windsor and is the site of countless weddings, conferences, fund-raising dinners and the popular "Art in the Park," traditionally held the first weekend in June.
Some may call them scabs but what was literally a "grassroots" effort to give the park back to the neighbourhood for all to enjoy safely, shows what Willistead means to to the people of Windsor.
Arriving early yesterday morning with their mowers, rakes, brooms, green clippings bags, residents discovered all the entrances to the park were padlocked. Undeterred, someone rustled up a pair of lock cutters and the gates were opened. Strikers were at the scene but did not prevent the residents from their intent to return the park to a more acceptable state.
By 4:30 p.m., the park had been transformed; all the grass was cut, most of the trimming was done and the majority of the grass and weeds had been raked up and carted away.
Did city workers miss a golden P.R. opportunity to show Windsorites they do care about this city by putting aside their differences and readied the park themselves for Art in the Park?
For more info on Willistead Park and the history of hiram walker, go to
Update June 1, 2009. Week 7 of outside Windsor city workers strike begins. Just got this press release from the Windsor Concerned Citizens Action Committee, urging the City of Windsor and CUPE members to return to the bargaining table. It also urges the citizens of Windsor from doing the work of the city workers:
On Sunday, May 31, 2009, a meeting organised by Len Wallace and Victoria Cross concerning the present City of Windsor strike. The following statement addressed to City of Windsor Councilors and the Mayor was discussed and supported by the signatories noted below and is being distributed throughout the community and will be distributed at the Monday City Council meeting.
Windsor Concerned Citizens Action Committee
It is urgent that the present City of Windsor strike come to an end swiftly and fairly. We call upon all those who live or work in Windsor to act responsibly and not to engage in actions that undermine any process of fair negotiation. We urge both the City of Windsor and the CUPE Locals to return to the bargaining table immediately.
Too, we are gravely concerned that the course of the strike could be setting a dangerous prelude to the further contracting out of city services and privatization. We feel that the needs of Windsor residents are better served by city employees and controlled by the public and not by private interests.
We hold that all workers are entitled to decent wages, retirement and other benefits, job security and a healthy and safe work environment and such must be preserved even in constrained economic times.
1. The interruption of city services can be resolved only with free negotiation between city management and the elected union representatives as the recognized bargaining agents for city employees. The right of free collective bargaining has long been upheld by this community. It must be maintained and not obstructed.
We call upon City of Windsor representatives to bargain with the representatives of CUPE Local 543 and CUPE Local 82 in good faith and remain at the bargaining table until a fair collective agreement is reached.
2. Should such negotiation come to another impasse, it must be taken to binding arbitration.
3. We urge our fellow and sister residents of Windsor to avoid doing bargaining unit work. However well-meaning and civic spirited, these actions serve only to prolong the impasse between the City of Windsor and the members of CUPE Locals 82 and 543.
Dr. Howard Pawley QC, OC,
Catherine Hundleby PhD,
Heather MacIvor PhD,
Vito Signorile PhD,
Eleanor Maticka-Tyndale PhD,
For more information, contact:
Len Wallace or Victoria Cross at 519 973-3981