The Strike Stinks in a New Way

Up until now, I’ve not been affect­ed a great deal by the strike by the Cana­di­an Union of Pub­lic Employ­ees (or CUPE). Yes, the parks around town, includ­ing the one direct­ly behind our build­ing, are look­ing pret­ty shab­by. The Pub­lic Library and all of the branch­es in town have been closed for ages. On some of the warmer days of sum­mer, the trash that had­n’t been picked up did smell pret­ty bad, but our con­do build­ing has pri­vate pick­up. They had to put a lock on the room with the dump­sters, as peo­ple from out­side the com­plex had been sneak­ing in and leav­ing their trash there as well. While all of these lit­tle annoy­ances got me a lit­tle mad (and a lit­tle sad) as I’d shake my head in dis­be­lief, because the city of Van­cou­ver and the union just can’t seem to work out their dif­fer­ences the way every oth­er city in the Low­er Main­land has (even­tu­al­ly). Tonight, the sit­u­a­tion reached a new low.

Due to a brief stint as a music crit­ic for The Geor­gia Straight, I got on the mail­ing lists for the Van­cou­ver Sym­pho­ny Orches­tra. The VSO nor­mal­ly per­forms at The Orpheum The­atre, a charm­ing, if a lit­tle dat­ed (cir­ca 1930s and 1970s, depend­ing on which part of the build­ing you are look­ing at) Con­cert Hall on Granville Street, well known to many peo­ple in the city. What those peo­ple may not know is the that the Orpheum is a Union hall.

In my In-Box, I read an email from the Press Office of the Van­cou­ver Sym­pho­ny, con­sist­ing the following:

VSO Con­certs Affect­ed by CUPE Strike

Van­cou­ver, BC – Announce­ments regard­ing upcom­ing VSO per­for­mances sched­uled for the Orpheum:

The Clas­si­cal Mys­tery Tour con­cert fea­tur­ing the music of the Bea­t­les with the VSO, orig­i­nal­ly sched­uled for Wednes­day, Octo­ber 3rd at the Orpheum has been can­celed. Tick­et buy­ers are asked to call Tick­et­mas­ter or VSO Cus­tomer Ser­vice for details.

The Tea & Trum­pets con­cert of Thurs­day, Octo­ber 4th at the Orpheum has been resched­uled to Thurs­day, April 10th, 2pm, at the Orpheum. Octo­ber 4th tick­ets will be hon­oured for the April 10th date.

The VSO Pops con­certs of Fri­day & Sat­ur­day, Octo­ber 5th & 6th at the Orpheum have been can­celed. An announce­ment about pos­si­ble resched­ul­ing of these per­for­mances will be forth­com­ing. We urge tick­et buy­ers to hold on to their Friday/Saturday tick­ets pend­ing an announce­ment of a pos­si­ble rescheduling.

Before and dur­ing the VSO’s Open­ing Week­end con­certs, the con­duct of CUPE mem­bers on pick­et lines at the Orpheum result­ed in vio­lent and obstruc­tive behav­iour – some of which required police action to mit­i­gate – which, togeth­er with oth­er con­duct of pick­eters, has led to the VSO being strong­ly con­cerned for the safe­ty and wel­fare of our cus­tomers, musi­cians, admin­is­tra­tive staff, and volunteers.

Despite a deci­sion reached Wednes­day, Sep­tem­ber 27th by the Labour Rela­tions Board, which issued an inter­im order grant­i­ng third par­ty pick­et­ing relief at the stage door of the Orpheum The­atre, giv­ing the VSO the right under the Labour Code to con­duct busi­ness at the Orpheum The­atre, we believe that safe­ty is of para­mount impor­tance – a belief that has led to the deci­sions made regard­ing the above concerts.

Admit­ted­ly, I was­n’t plan­ning to go to the Clas­si­cal Mys­tery Tour, The Tea & Trum­pets con­cert, or the Pops con­certs, but I still feel the sting of these can­cel­la­tions. Arts orga­ni­za­tions in cities (unless they have siz­able donors or gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies) usu­al­ly have a hard enough time mak­ing ends meet with­out hav­ing to can­cel their few mon­ey-mak­ing oper­a­tions, like Pops con­certs and oth­er less hard-core art/music affairs. I do go to a far less pop­u­lar series of Con­tem­po­rary music con­certs that that VSO offers at the Round­house in Yale­town, and I would­n’t be sur­prised if some of the bud­get for those events is par­tial­ly under­writ­ten by the tick­et sales from these concerts.

The strike (and who knows what kind of behav­iour the email was refer­ring to; I have no idea if patrons for the Sym­pho­ny’s Open­ing Night were accost­ed, threat­ened or even assault­ed by pick­eters) has hit yet anoth­er aspect of life in the city, and in doing so, has hit a bunch of new lows. A few days ago, I found out that the year­ly ‘Ghost Train’, a charm­ing evening ride through Stan­ley Park, most­ly for kids and their fam­i­lies was also canceled.

This is get­ting more and more ridicu­lous. I don’t even care whose fault it is, who’s intractable and who’s act­ing like a child; It’s time that the CUPE and the City set­tle already! Fin­ish it, people.

6 Replies to “The Strike Stinks in a New Way”

  1. you know, that’s been the biggest irri­ta­tion for me so far, too. not that i enjoy all the dif­fer­ent recy­cling and “non-stinky” garbage piled up on our porch, or that my hus­band has to take the stinky garbage to work, or that some areas in van­cou­ver are start­ing to look a bit too scuzzy … 

    but what was extreme­ly irri­tat­ing was when i was going to go to a con­cert at the orpheum and tick­et­mas­ter asked us to do quite a few con­tor­tions to get the tick­ets trans­ferred to the cen­tre for the per­form­ing arts.

    i also wish i had the begin­ning of a clue what this strike is REALLY all about. every­body just seems to be sit­ting in their respec­tive cor­ners, throw­ing half-heart­ed accu­sa­tions at each oth­er and doing nothing.

  2. I hope that the medi­a­tor who gave their report today can get these two par­ties to kiss and make-up. Or at the very least call a truce.

  3. If it both­ers you so, why don’t you guys stop blog­ging about your com­plaints and instead see what you can do about it, if any­thing — or stop complaining 🙂

  4. You make a good point. I think part of the frus­tra­tion comes from the feel­ing that we are pow­er­less to do any­thing. It appears (on the sur­face, at least) as if all of this is out of our hands. It’s a squab­ble that is off-lim­its to the gen­er­al pub­lic. I sup­pose that if I could get the ear of some gov­ern­ment or union offi­cial I could point out how infan­tile this is, but aside from that, it’s hard to say what we could do about it. 

    The only thing I can think of, is a full-page ad (fund­ed by a col­lec­tion of cit­i­zens) that states our case, that while we under­stand there should be a fair deal for labour, this has gone on far beyond what a strike action could, and that it is actu­al­ly doing a dis­ser­vice to their cause (i.e, turn­ing us, the gen­er­al pub­lic, against them). As for the gov­ern­men­t’s role, they should also real­ize that if they are not capa­ble of nego­ti­at­ing con­struc­tive­ly, we can eas­i­ly rem­e­dy that short­com­ing by vot­ing them out of office (btw, when can we do that here? Can a vote be called imme­di­ate­ly — sor­ry, but I don’t know how the local elec­tions cycle works here).

    At any rate, I’m try­ing to be con­struc­tive here, rather than just whine, as Suky has apt­ly point­ed out. Any­one else have an idea?

  5. excuse me, but i don’t think that after all that’s hap­pened — or not hap­pened, as it were — a lit­tle bit of whin­ing is out of order. it’s not as if you’ve ded­i­cat­ed your entire blog to this.

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