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I have heard CUPE has since issued an apology and a full
retraction, but the Pique could not confirm that or find a copy of the
statement for press time.
But even if CUPE pleads temporary insanity and begs
Whistler for forgiveness, the damage may already be done. The story made its
way into the CBC over the weekend and into The Province on Wednesday, which
means it's only a matter of days before it's picked up nationally and then
Whistler has always been newsworthy, even before winning
the Olympics - a snowball to the side of someone's head on New Year's Eve of
2001 became a national riot story in a matter of hours. The media likes it when
Whistler succeeds, but loves it when we fail.
What news outlets will make warnings about a danger to
our water supply can only be imagined at this point. Hopefully they will keep
in context - an unfortunate allegation prompted by the intense negotiations
between the municipality and the union - but I have my doubts.
Unions always play hardball. Teachers have gone on strike
towards the end of the school year, adding urgency to negotiations by dangling
end-of-year exams and college applications over our heads. NHL players refused
to cave on their demands until the owners were finally at risk of canceling the
entire season - a move which apparently backfired when last minute negotiations
Other public sector groups have always scheduled strikes
and job actions right around elections, forcing ruling parties and their
challengers into a corner. Sometimes these tactics worked, and sometimes not.
When it comes to CUPE's warning, I have a feeling that
this tactic will backfire, at least to the extent that the union can count on
Warnings about water are not fair game in negotiations
even if there is a grain of truth in what they are saying.
Water is the necessity of all necessities for life, and
threats go to the heart of everyone - every parent, every pregnant family,
every individual who trusts their life daily to whatever comes out off their
taps will not take CUPE's statements lightly, or forgive the implications to
the tourism industry.
On that note, it may be time for both parties to get back
to the bargaining table, chain themselves to it, and not leave until they can
reach a compromise and put this job action to an end.