Toronto’s five-week-old garbage strike is over and it seems that the unions have gotten 90% of what they wanted. The only real substantive concession they made is that new hires will not be able to collect and bank 18 sick days a year that they are able to cash in upon retirement. This is a long-term savings to the city, but because all present employees will continue to be able to collect sick days there will be little immediate or midterm cost savings.
Unfortunately this is what happens when a politician, who is as heavily dependent on union money and volunteers as Miller, leads the government’s side of the negotiations. That is why this strike was so bad for him. David Miller was caught on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand he can’t afford to piss off the voter, on the other he needs the unions for his reelection campaign. But this situation is bad for the city too because Toronto was not being represented during the strike by somebody who could zealously and single-mindedly represent the city’s interest with a clean conscience.
Now as long as it is legal for mayoral candidates to accept contributions and volunteers from city workers unions there is nothing illegal about any of this. Therefore, the solution to this problem does not reside in the courts but rather at the ballot box. So if you are a Toronto resident, make sure that on November 2010 you go out and vote for whomever is most likely to defeat Miller.