Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Politics: There was a Garbage Strike?

A garbage truck re-appeared on Harshaw Avenue for the first time since the city worker's strike ended on 5-August-2009

TORONTO, ONTARIO - The city collected recyclables on my street for the first time in more than a month today as services resumed following the extended strike by city workers. While I certainly hauled more material to the curb than usual (three stuffed recycling bins for my building instead of two lightly filled ones), overall I join a chorus of people saying that the garbage strike just wasn't a big deal.

Unless one lived in an area affected by the extra traffic or the smell created by one of the more popular temporary garbage collection sites, there really wasn't much direct impact of the strike. The general public's consciousness about waste collection may be at an all time high, so they were already minimizing garbage and even recyclable creation in favor of re-using things, buying things with less packaging and so forth, and thus their home containers could go a long way without regular collection.

Oftentimes, I haven't even filled up my primary garbage bag when the every-other-week garbage collection day comes, and I end up filling up the bag with all my other receptacles and take that single bag out to the building's single large bin. During the strike, I just waited until the bag was actually full and took it to the bin, and watched as the bin gradually filled for a change. I generally carry what little waste I create at lunch home and put it in my own garbage--during the garbage strike, I had to do that whether I wanted to or not with the public receptacles sealed off. So, there was not much change in procedure for me.

The bottom line seems to be that lack of garbage collection just doesn't seem to be enough of an inconvenience for enough people to be a powerful weapon for unions to use against the city politically anymore. Instead of demanding that the government resolve a strike, residents just shrug and adapt.

As for the question of whether the city caved to union demands in this recent dispute, I found this statement released today by city councilman Gord Perks to do a decent job of accurately characterizing the situation. While Perks is often an ally of Mayor David Miller, he doesn't include much spin in this statement. Conservative statements criticizing Miller seem to be mostly full of spin, and in some cases downright diatribes against unions as well as Miller's handling of the strike, which don't strike me as productive. Unions aren't going to go away, no matter how much the conservatives might like them to do so.

It is time for the city to get back to normal, and I guess that includes petty politics.

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