Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Spin, spin, spin

One of the things that has been most difficult for a lot of people living here in Artspace is going from an intentional community that can only function properly through open communication, volunteerism and honesty, to dealing with an organization that takes things and spins them around to mean something completely different than they really do.  Like when AUPE non-lawyer, William Rigutto, ranted outside the high rise for some 2 hours, during which he, and others, yelled in the street about financial information shared in confidence during negotiations and made all sorts of wild accusations.  During this time, he questioned why SAIL has a contingency fund which, over time, he re-defined as a profit, and even claimed that SAIL thought of this as profit. 

Because apparently he knows what a company thinks?  Or that he knows what a volunteer board of half a dozen people thinks? 

Some of us were told that, if the audit of SAIL's finances confirmed the numbers board members had been trying to tell AUPE all along, this strike would be over.  There would be no reason for the labour dispute to continue.

Well, the audit did confirm SAIL's finances, and AUPE is still here.  Not only that, but they've gone and tried to spin things to make it sound like the audit confirmed what AUPE has been claiming, instead, then making more accusations against SAIL.

Look.  We may be mostly people on low incomes, but we do understand budgeting, and we do understand financial responsibility.  We certainly know what it's like to live with all the rules and regulations that come with public funding.  We're living in a co-op, for crying out loud.  Everything about living in a co-op is determined by rules and regulations set by others that we must meet.

Instead of accepting what the audit has shown, AUPE has instead released another flier, making claims against SAIL.

Honestly, AUPE.  Do you really think we're stupid?

You guys couldn't even get it right in the headline.

"Financials released, SAIL mislead Artspace and its caregivers."

Hey!  AUPE!  "Artspace" doesn't have any caregivers.  Artspace has SAIL user-members.  About 30 of them.  SAIL hires the care givers, not Artspace.

You know this.  You've been told this repeatedly.  If you're going to accuse SAIL of misleading people, maybe you shouldn't do it by making erroneous statements right in your headline!

Unless this is just a bad use of sentence structure, at which point, get a better editor.  

Then the flier claims that SAIL does have "the ability to provide caregivers with a fair collective agreement."

Well... that's misleading.  Of course they have the ability to provide a collective agreement.  The problem is what AUPE considers a "fair" agreement.

Ah, but then they go on about how SAIL has "gathered" money by "hoarding public funds."  Surplus dollars.  They've got money in the bank, people!  The horror!

Well, first off, I have to say I'm really disappointed that the number is so low.  Unlike the general public, we are aware of the operating costs for SAIL, because we asked.  You know; what AUPE kept yelling at us to do, except most of us had already done it. 

Then they complain about things like how much money was used for paying security, which would never have been needed if AUPE hadn't been so aggressive outside of our homes.  Oh, and then they complained about "professional fees." 

Of course there's going to be professional fees.  They have to pay for accountants and lawyers and auditors and all those other people to do things that a volunteer board can't do themselves.

It's called "the cost of doing business" and is part of running a company responsibly.

Ah, now let's see how else this got spun.  This money, AUPE tells us, is "intended to fund care."

Well guess what, AUPE.  We know full well that for user members to get care, that involves expenses and administration and fees and rent and supplies and yes, hiring professionals and, if necessary, security to protect the people coming in to provide the individual care they need.  Wages are just part of what the funding is supposed to pay for. 

AUPE would have us believe that somehow, SAIL is supposed to negotiate wages on one time (we hope) events like hiring necessary security, and on any "surplus" they might have. 

You can't budget based on "surplus."  Anyone who manages a simple household income knows this. 

Oh, and they're still pushing that "industry standard" line, when 1) there is no industry standard and 2) the SAIL staff were already being paid more than equivalent home care workers.

No, AUPE.  It's not SAIL that has mislead anyone.  Spin things all you want; it doesn't change the fact that the audit confirmed what SAIL had been saying all along.

So why are you still here?

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Why the Signs Came Down

A couple of weeks ago, the signs at Artspace relating to the labor dispute came down. Since then some Artspace members have noticed that the picketers seem happy about this. They almost seem to be treating it like a small victory. They did not like the signs.

Allow me to clarify that the signs were not taken down because of anything the picketers did or didn't say, or did or didn't do. They were taken down out of respect for other Artspace members. You see, not everyone who lives here likes the signs. In fact, I would venture to say that really none of us likes the signs. However, they were necessary. The presence of the signs helped to create a better environment for those of us who live here. They pointed out some of the picketers' outrageous behaviour and  showed the public how strong of a community we are and what we truly value. Since what we value is vastly different than what the picketers value, the picketers did not like the signs.

While the signs served a purpose, it seemed time to take them down. Our community is important to every member that lives here. The signs were taken down out of respect for the unity of our community. Since the union has parked itself in front of our homes we have become a stronger community. The signs had a large role in this, however it is not necessary to have them displayed all the time, indefinitely. With over 80 members living in this co-op, it is for certain that we cannot please everyone all the time. We each have our points of view. By taking down the signs, we are showing respect for those in our community who do not feel the same way about the signs as we do. Compromise is a way to work together, respect one another's differences, and grow into a stronger community of unity. So for now the signs are down.

Yes, the signs are down but not thrown away or forgotten. We have them nearby should we find the need to put them up again. Let's all hope that we won't have to.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Words to Ponder

A Message to the Picketers

This message is aimed at all the AUPE picketers outside Artspace, not just the striking SAIL employees, since there are so very few employees out there.

It has now been 6 months since the strike began. 

As I listen to your "celebrations" outside our home, hear you verbally abuse some of our members and gossip about others behind their backs while lounging under our balconies, so many thoughts and questions come to mind.

Like so many others, I wonder why you are here.  Oh, yes, I see your signs, but they don't answer the question at all.  Yes, I hear you yelling your accusations about SAIL, but I have asked the questions and gotten the answers.  Your accusations sound increasingly desperate in attempting to slander SAIL to justify your presence.

I wonder if any of you, sitting in your camp chairs, obsessing with your phones and gossiping, have grasped the magnitude of just how much damage you have done.

No, I don't mean the damage you've done to our Artspace members.  We can tell, by your contemptuous laughter, that you don't care that you have caused people to be hospitalized.  In fact, you seem quite proud of it.

No.  I mean the damage you have done to yourselves.

Do you truly not understand this?

The first error was made from the beginning.  Normally, strikers picket offices, factories or storefronts; the physical location of their employer.  But you never did that.  No.  As bad as it would have been to target a non-profit, volunteer run company, that is not what you did.

Instead, you went after the very people it was your job to care for, and everyone around them.  To draw a comparison, it's as if you worked at a furnace cleaning company and, when on strike, decided to picket the homes of customers whose furnaces you'd cleaned - plus their next door neighbors, plus everyone else on the block, plus anyone who visited their homes, most of whom have never done business with your employer - rather than the company itself.  It's completely illogical and counterproductive.  How did you ever think that this would get you any support?

That, however, is not the worst of it.

The worst of it was how you chose to behave on the picket line.

You chose to not only picket the homes of people you knew had no control over funding, but you chose to do it in a most regressive and vile manner.  It was not enough for you to come out and walk around with signs.  No.  You chose to harass, yell, insult, swear and threaten people.  Even now, do you think we can't hear you as you laugh at us?  As you talk about us with such anger, hatred and contempt?  You're right in front of our homes.  You're right under our balconies.  You're right outside our windows.  We can hear you.  We can see you. 

For so long, you have tried to make this about dignity and respect, but your behavior has shown this to be a lie. 

It's about money.  That much is obvious.  If it were really about dignity and respect, you would have behaved in a dignified and respectful manner.

I ask you this.  After all this time, have you not yet realized that you have wasted 6 months of your lives?  No; not just wasted.  It's 6 months of your own actions damaging your own selves.

Have you not realized that no amount of money will win back what you've lost by doing what you've done?

No amount of money will regain you the integrity you lost by going after some of the most vulnerable people, in their own homes.

No amount of money will give you the respect you lost when you chose to go after the people you used to provide care for.  Their friends.  Their family.  Their neighbors.

No amount of money will repair the damage you have done to your own reputations, through your behaviour outside our homes.

You have also damaged the reputation of every AUPE member, because what you have done has been done in the name of your union.

You have also damaged the reputation of all other unions, because what you have done have become representative of all picketer behavior.

You can try and shift the blame to somewhere else all you want, but the only ones responsible for this damage is yourselves.  You can try and convince yourself that this is all part of some noble cause, but your own actions have shown the opposite.  There is nothing noble about anything you have done outside our homes. 

There is nothing you can accomplish by being here.  There never was.  You've gone after the wrong people and, in the process, destroyed any positive thing you could have gained, had you only chosen to at least behave in a dignified and humane manner. 

Every time you come out here, you serve only to destroy your own reputation, that much more. Every time you come out here, more of your personal integrity is lost.  Every time you come out here, the more you reflect negatively on the reputation of your fellow union members.  Every time you come out here, you serve only to cause more harm to yourselves.

Have you not yet figured that out? 

Is the money worth it?

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Words to Ponder

Another one down


Another Artspace member, who understandably wishes to remain private, has succumbed to the long term damage caused by AUPE actions against our community and has to go on disability.

Like the past hospitalizations, this is a person who is not a SAIL user member nor involved in the labour dispute in any way.

"Just" another person affected by this siege of our home.

Question: how can these "health care workers" on the picket line justify their actions when they know they are harming people?

What kind of people stand in front of the private homes of people uninvolved with the labour dispute and treat the harm they are causing as a big joke?  Treat this as if it's some sort of game?  Do they really think we don't hear them laughing at us as they gossip about our members?

They know they are causing harm.  And they take obvious joy in it.

Explain that, AUPE.

There is no reason for you to be out there.  You have the audit that confirmed SAIL can't afford your demands.

It's long past time to leave.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Media coverage - Edmonton Woman's "Freedom to Tweet" article

An excellent article from Edmonton Woman about AUPE's attempt to silence Kathleen Smith for supporting us.

The article starts on page 10.

In a recent tweet Kathleen explained what makes Artspace special: "I walked into #Artspace and was immediately surrounded with warmth & love.  They shared their homes and their lives with me."
Artspace is a housing cooperative that is open to everybody.  However, it has a unique feature: 29 units have been adapted to meet the needs of residents with physical disabilities.  The dispute at Artspace is about the wages workers receive for the assisted living program.
The videos that Kathleen saw show AUPE members on the picket line using air horns, loud speakers and abusive language to the residents of Artspace.
Kathleen says that the residents have "fought their entire lives to live independently.  To not be institutionalized.  And in some cases, they have fought just to be permitted to live.  They have spent their entire lives fighting.  And no one was listening to their stories in all of this."
But Kathleen was listening.

Thank you, Kathleen, for listening.  There is no doubt that the relative peace we are "enjoying" right now is directly because of exposure in social media to what AUPE has been doing to our community.  No amount of calls to the police did it, and what little exposure there was in television or print media had little effect.  It took this blog, and social media attention, to finally get things to tone down, even if they aren't really all that much better; just less blatant.

It's a shame that, rather than admit their errors and take corrective action, AUPE has instead chosen file their SLAPP suit against you.

This is a powerful quote.

"One of the things I discuss online a lot," she says, "is freedom of expression in this country and how important it is.  And how much of an issue I have with those that think that freedom of expression or any charter rights only applies to people we approve of because that's not the way it works.  We all think we're fighting the great evil, but when we're actively seeking to deny others their rights, we're hurting ourselves.  And people need to wake up and start getting that message."

How very true.

Thank you, Kathleen, for standing up for Artspace, and thank you, Edmonton Woman, for such a well written piece.  You even got the description of Artspace right!

For those new to this page, here is the security montage video Kathleen is referring to in her interview.

This video was given to the media, months ago.  AUPE dismissed it, partially because, as they claimed, the footage was old, and did not reflect the reality of the picket line.

In response to that claim, here is a playlist of videos from August 2nd.

[update: AUPE videos are no longer available: as part of the agreement at the end of the labour dispute, AUPE removed videos and other online content related to the dispute.]

This next playlist of videos are from August 6; you can read more about it here.

Then there's this post, about events on the mornings of Oct. 16 and Oct. 22nd.

While this post includes video that shows some of what goes on in the wee hours of the morning.

AUPE cannot deny the reality these videos show.

You can still fix this, AUPE.

You can still save at least a few shreds of dignity.

Just walk away.