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Our Dead, Our Flag and the CUPE


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When the Scugog Standard hits the streets of Port Perry this morning, it will carry a front-page story that cries out for national attention -- namely the tale of the municipal union filing a grievance against a local councillor for lowering the town hall flag to half mast following the death of yet another Canadian soldier in Afghanistan.
The optics, unquestionably, scream of pettiness regarding money trumping both principle and patriotism.
Arguing otherwise would be an uphill battle.
In Scugog Township, it is supposedly part of a unionized municipal employee's contract to raise and lower the Canadian flag on township properties, a role supposedly written into CUPE Local 1785-01's collective agreement with the municipality northeast of Whitby.


And that, in fine-print terms, ultimately translates into the fact that overtime must be paid to whichever unionized employee lowers the flag should a Canadian soldier happen to die during off-hours, on the weekend or during a statutory holiday such as the upcoming Labour Day.

A volunteer, of course, would lower the flag for a fallen Canadian soldier for one reason and one reason only.

He would do it because it is the right thing to do.

When word came down in mid-August that Edmonton-based medic, Cpl. Andrew James Eykelenboom, had been killed in a fiery suicide attack south of Kandahar, Scugog Councillor Lynn Philip Hodgson, author of seven historical war books, including Inside Camp X, decided to do the right thing and lower the flag to half mast.

It was a Saturday.
The municipal office in Port Perry was closed and therefore no union employees were on site.
"It only takes two minutes to lower a flag," says Hodgson.
And that's all he would say -- citing his position as a town councillor as restricting him from commenting further until the union grievance is dealt with.
Earlier this year, at a time when Parliament Hill was debating flying flags at half mast following the controversial rise in war casualties in Afghanistan, Hodgson moved a motion, passed by council, to lower the municipal flags when a Canadian soldier is killed in action.

No union hackles were apparently raised at the time.
Then, after the recent death of Cpl. David Braun in yet another suicide bombing in Afghanistan, Scugog Standard editor Rik Davie happened to ask Hodgson why the flag outside the town hall wasn't flying at half mast.
And that's when he learned of the grievance.
"The union tells me that this is not about money," says Davie, who wrote today's front-page story in the Standard. "But if it is not about money, what is it about?
"Is it about the $120 in overtime, or whatever it is, for lowering the Canadian flag on a weekend? Or is it about honouring the sacrifice of a Canadian soldier?" he asks.
"If it is about honouring a soldier, then why the grievance?"
Everyone where I work is livid about this. One guy is emailing around.
If the contract specifies who is to lower the flag, then both parties agreed to it, the grievance is about a breech of contract and the Union has a legal duty to pursue the grievance whether they like it or not.
Well my local rag has run the story as quoted above and has commented in an editorial.

The web page has not yet been updated with the latest issue but here is the link;

Fyi to all, the flag will continue to be lowered despite this grievance.  According to the article, Councillor Hodgson and a non unionized member have volunteered in the past to attend on weekends to complete this gesture and an employee has filed a grievance about this..  A national CUPE rep, Andrew Roberts, has weighed in and held to their story that this is not about money.  It is about communication. ?? 

Well...thanks to the petty employee who decided to make this an issue!    :blotto: There are somethings that are worth overlooking and this was one of them.  I hope Mr"CUPE" sleeps well at night knowing he is protecting his precious collective agreement while the fallen were protecting him. This is one battle that need not to be raised IMO..  best to stop typing now before I catch a Verbal.  :-X

You won't be getting a Verbal on this one PIKER    ;)

Seems to me that the little SOB CUPE worker (and his local rep) needs a good ol' fashioned throat punch.

It's not about money......give me a freakin' break.      ::)

I'm in a union, USWA, and things aren't quite as cut and dried as CUPE claims.  There are always ways of negotiating a compromise before a written grievance is filed. The idea of paying someone 3 or 4 hours pay to come in for a 3 minute job is crazy, even by CUPE standards.  This is the sort of silliness that gives unionism a black eye.
Mr. cupe is an idiot fileing a greivance over that he needs a good ol fashion crack in the head.UNBELEAVABLE WHAT A GREEDY A**HOLE.Some people got no respect he and the rep should be sent to Edmonton and "explain" to the troops what its about.Again unbeleavable just no respect im in a union an i can't beleave it......
I heard this on the news this morning and couldn't believe it.  Everyone I have talked to thinks that they need to have it explained to them who it is that gave their lives to allow them to have a union.  Such petty bs just p...ticks me off.
Perhaps he hasn't given any thought to what respect he would want if it were for one of his 'loved ones'.  I am sure then, he would be first to mouth off questioninf as to why the flag isn't at half mast.  How soon they forget.
so sad people are worried about a little overtime pay..    tell that to the men and women that are dying to get them that 4 hours pay.  i would be a shamed to be a part of that union just for making a move on this.
Was just on the news (A Channel)

The union rep appologised.....a bit too late if you ask me.

I was reading about this online earlier today. No matter how much CUPE denies the monetary motivation ($120), I can not see my way to their reasoning for needing to lodge a complaint.

So little time to make such a large show of support during a family's greif and this type of squabble erupts over it?  :rage:
Maybe it is not about the money.  Maybe it is someone trying to get-off on being anti-military.
This kind of crap is the reason I left OPSEU....in my experience they are just as petty. Sad....very sad.
I think the SOB should be introduced to "Mr Rubber Hose Filled With Sand".

Disgusting.  >:(
I'm a Plant Superintendent at a large CAW factory and I deal with this Union BS all/every day. There are clauses written into EVERY collective agreement that state how the Union and Management are to work together BEFORE any grievance is filed. They did this because the company refused to pay them 120$ for 30seconds work, i'll bet my left nut on it.
Sad, but not surprising.
Union hoists white flag

Still  >:( and  :P .. but at least matter closed for now.. maybe damage still done though..

Lest we forget  :cdn:

It is sad that it took public outrage for them to recant on that issue. I realize that they are probably angry about seeing someone lose out on money, and if it was something that wasn't been done out of respect to a fallen soldier, they might have more of a leg to stand on... But when someone does something to honour an individual that just gave up their life for the country, that's not the time to start getting petty about contract specifics... If there was any other way to deal with it, they should have. This was entirely unjustified and unacceptable.

Lest we forget? I think that many already have..
Magravan said:
Lest we forget? I think that many already have..

Funny how some people can capture what you feel in words you couldn't find.  Well said.  +1.