Okay. We got bike lanes. We got chicken coops. Now, with Vancouver’s City Council’s help, organized labour can prevail over the evil ruling overlords.
”We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions.” –Adolf Hitler
I’m talking about Rocky Mountaineer Railtours (RMR) here. It’s a small, 100 man operation that is one of the gems of BC’s Tourism Sector. In February, the on-board attendants changed their union from the Canadian Auto Workers’ Union to the Teamsters (Local 13 – sidenote: anyone find Jimmy Hoffa yet?), which was mostly seen as a move to muscle more out of RMR for the workers (yay).
That’s fine and said but then fast forward to June, a couple weeks after RMR’s owner, Peter Armstrong, announced that he was going to Chair Vancouver’s Non-Partisan Association (NPA), things really went haywire.
First Teamsters Local 13 advised RMR of their intent to strike (uh oh!). Then RMR locked them out and hired replacement workers (double uh oh!).
Apparently by all reports, things are going alright onboard RMR’s trips right now. Customers are satisfied and RMR is having an okay high season minus the slanderous remarks and fake reviews being posted online regarding the company.
Anyhow, that’s not where things get weird. This is:
(click the image or the link HERE to view the original letter in full or keep reading)
July 22, 2011
Mr. Peter Armstrong, CEO
Rocky Mountaineer Vacations
Suite 101-369 Terminal Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6A 4C4
Dear Mr. Armstrong:
As elected officials in the City of Vancouver, we’re acutely aware of the importance of tourism to our local economy. The Rocky Mountaineer trains have been a long-standing contributor to the city’s tourism sector, building a global reputation both for the beauty of the scenery they visit, but also for the quality of their on-board service. That customer experience, so critical to your firm’s success, is also crucial to Vancouver’s tourism brand, so much so that we celebrate the exceptional work of frontline tourism sector workers with monthly awards.
That’s why the current lock-out of your employees, members of Teamsters Local 31, is of grave concern to us. These long-service workers, many of whom who have been with Rocky Mountaineer since the firm’s early days, are exactly the kind of skilled, committed frontline employees that help ensure your guests come back, again and again. They are not just your on-board representatives, they are also our city’s representatives in a very real way.
It is our understanding that these workers have not had a negotiated wage increase for several years, but have repeatedly indicated their desire to achieve a negotiated settlement fair to both sides. They have also been clear they do not wish to see longstanding contract conditions taken away, or their right to overtime pay eroded. They have never been on strike, but had taken a strike vote this year to show their commitment to the goals the union was advancing at the bargaining table.
Nonetheless, your firm has not only locked out these loyal employees but immediately replaced them with strikebreakers, an act that would be illegal under provincial law. We do not believe we can build the tourism industry with a strategy that treats customer service reps as little more than disposable people, to be used and discarded.
We urge you to stop using replacement workers immediately and return to the bargaining table to conclude a new agreement to end this lockout.
Apparently Vancouver’s City Councillors David Cadman, Geoff Meggs, George Chow, Andrea Reimer, Heather Deal, Tim Stevenson, Kerry Jang, Ellen Woodsworth and Raymond Louie feel it appropriate to meddle in a private company’s labour dispute.
It’s noted that none of the above are NPA Councillors – they’re actually on the other side, so um… politics?
Again, this is a small company, not a major corporation, not thousands of employees, not public, not government, so the question begs to be asked – why?
Given the (terrible) weather Vancouver’s been having (bad for tourism) and the fact that it’s RMR’s busiest season, I can understand RMR’s need to mitigate any service interruption which is probably why things moved so quickly, but back to the Council…
I personally think they’re all nuts, or maybe there’s something in the Happy Planet they’re drinking.
Well, except for Suzanne Anton who refused to sign the doc.
It’s also an election year so I can understand if they’re buying votes, but if that’s the prevailing sentiment, maybe Vancouver doesn’t deserve to have such an awesome business housed here.
Go forth in despair as did the people that closed down their businesses after the rapid fire implementation of the bike lanes. Maybe it’s adios. Maybe it’s Alberta.
You voted for ‘em, friends! Congratulate yourselves.