Anyone got an opinion on UA?

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rebelworker
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Apr 13 2007 18:12
Anyone got an opinion on UA?

Im speaking of the The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada.

Im starting to look into plumbing unions (In traiing right now), they represent the most plumbers here in Quebec, but there are some pretty cool local unions to choose from too. One which actually has some fairly lefty positions on things, the CSN, has a construction section, and their Montreal Council is a very progressive place to be having political battles (there is even a small but real nefac presence).

Im probably just going to go for density, but a little history or current opinions would be helpful.

syndicalist
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Apr 14 2007 12:21

Little to say other than they are a craft union, with training programs for members. The late AFL Presidident George Meany came out of the plumbers. They were generally known around my parts as a father-son union. That is son followed father into the trade. Pretty conservative.

A number of years ago the local UA let us use their hall when we (our UE local) had a lockout/strike on. They were ok, decent enough about things.

Here's some UA membership websites linked from the Association of Union Democracy (AUD)
http://www.uniondemocracy.org/AUDLinks/RNFLinks.htm#UA

Good luck.

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thugarchist
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Apr 14 2007 13:17

When I've run industrial campaigns the plumbers in those shops have uniformly said they love the plumbers union and remain members for life whether its useful for them or not. That said they have a very distinct and reactionary view of what a union is, should be and could be.

rebelworker
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Apr 14 2007 14:58

Thanks guys, kind of confirmed what thought,

The unions in the consrtuction industry in Quebec, and most places I think, is kind of the best case scenario, of the worst case scenario.
Big undemocratic, totaly and safety minded unions that will get you a good contract, but dont give a shit what you think and wont ever get involved in anything outside the industry unless it effects us getting work. Our contracts are highyl reglated, all unions, all employers and the govt negotiate collectivly. Everyone is paid exacly the same thing based on an industry wide pay scale from, reno to construction(you get slightly more for industrial construction), right down to each year of your apprenticeship and every raise you will ever get for the rest of yor life. Paid generously, fucking 11% vacation pay!

The UA used to litterally be run like the mafia here in the 70's. The president got us a pension, helped sign a national safety code, and was one of the biggest loan sharks in quebecs history, later to be killed by the hells angels cause he took too much of their pie.

The industry is somewhat less father-son here than many places cause you can only pass on a plumbing aprenticeship to one of your siblings, everyone else has to go to the same trade school to get ceretification. That said a narrow view of unionism seems to aptly describe what were dealing with.

The Union Democracy link was helpful, thanx.

Still might go with the CSN for local political reasosn, but probably the UA it is.

Phebus
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Apr 14 2007 15:04

The situation in construction is weird in Quebec. The industry is 100% union and contract are negociated provincialy. It's one of the only industry where minority unionism is possible (but it's the majority union or coalition of unions that negociate). There is currently 4 major union confederations in the industry : FTQ, Inter (AFL-CIO affiliated), CSD and CSN. The last 3 made an alliance recently and are currently negociating the 4 main industry contracts. The FTQ and Inter are old craft union while the CSD and CSN are industrial unions. The latter two are the most democratic but they are generaly (except this time) put aside by the old powerfull craft union who control the major heavy trades.

If you read french, you might want to read this and this about the current situation in the indutry in Quebec.

ATTENTION : choosing a union is not only about politics. It is widely known that the FTQ (and Inter) control of the highly skilled trade means they also control hiring. I know, for exemple, that to have work an electrician have no choice but to be a member of the FTQ or at least the Inter. Make sure to inform yourself about the situation in plumbing...

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EdmontonWobbly
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Apr 14 2007 16:19

When everyone comes out to Alberta they are shocked at how much more reactionary the building trades unions are here as opposed to where they are from. They are only slightly less collaborationist than CLAC. We have an IWW member who was hauled into a business managers office and they threatened him with all sorts of crap -just for trying to enforce the contract-. We also have a wobbly electrician (IBEW dual carder) who has commented to us that back home in Quebec, where he is from, there is no way in hell that half the crap that passes on worksites would happen there. The building trades out here encouraged all of their members in the last election to take out conservative party memberships even. I also think the UA boycotted the Edmonton District Labour Council meeting a few years back because they passed a motion to support the Kyoto accord.

Its totally fucked. I've also seen the package that UA sends to potential contractors and it more or less says 'we promise to never ever strike over anything and give you a well behaved and well trained workforce'.

Still though there is a lot of potential for radical agitation in the building trades and if you want to make more money than you have ever seen in your entire life come work in Alberta.

throwhen
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Apr 14 2007 23:08

it is not an organizing union.

maybe you have a lefty local but lefty does not mean it believes in organizing the working class.

rebelworker
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Apr 14 2007 23:50

Im not sure what you mean chuck?

rebelworker
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Apr 15 2007 00:01

PS Salut Phebus, cest Dave de Montreal. Jai lu le premier lien, mais le deuxieme ne marche pas.
Merci.

Ca semble que l'alliance et en control de les placements maintenant, ou peut etre jai mal compris.

Phebus
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Apr 15 2007 01:59

Well Dave, try this instead.

Pour ce qui est du placement, c'est encore une guerre de tranchée et rien n'est jouée. Pour l'instant, c'est encore l'Inter et la FTQ qui call les shots. La seule manière de casser ça c'est de revenir aux bureaux de placement de la commission... Ce qui n'est pas génial non plus.

throwhen
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Apr 15 2007 03:19
rebelworker wrote:
Im not sure what you mean chuck?

there are very good organization in society that have great politics but don't believe in organizing or putting the rescources into organizing.

Some unions like UE are lefty, but they don't put enough resources into organizing workers and building power to make their politics matter.

rebelworker
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Apr 15 2007 14:11

Is see,

the union in quebec are in a weird situation. SEIU and UNITE are doing a good deal of organising, the others not so much, but one thing to rmemeber is that union density is about 40% here so most of the traditional union string spots are alredy organisied. One xpample is construction were you have to be a member of a union to work.

The service sectior is obviously the traditional weak spot, but the Quebec specific unions are doin some work in that area. there have been a few drives at call centers. The first Mcdonalds ever unionized in North america was here, it was closed. Same thing happened at a Wallmart.

I would say the CSN, for example, dose more organising than most unions, but not nearly on the level of SEIU, but due to its democratic nature, that is something that could be pushed for by the grassroots.

throwhen
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Apr 15 2007 14:41
rebelworker wrote:
I would say the CSN, for example, dose more organising than most unions, but not nearly on the level of SEIU, but due to its democratic nature, that is something that could be pushed for by the grassroots.

That is a misconception.

Grassroots unions don't push for more organizing.

CWA, UE, CNA and IWW are great examples. All democratic unions, highly political in a radical direction, and all of them are not organization focused on organizing. (CWA not radical but at least progressive)

Democratic Radical Unions tend to become political organizations that spend their time and resources in interesting campaigns that take an existing membership or militants and push a broader agenda without doing the grunt work of organizing.

The Teamsters are a "democratic" (more so than most unions) without lefty politics, and they have instead focused all of their energy in recent years in faction fighting.

SEIU and UNITE HERE are not democratic on paper, with progressive politics and have done more organizing than either of two types of unions listed above.

rebelworker
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Apr 15 2007 15:09

Merci Phebus,

jai trouver les deux blogs pis les commentaires apres detre tres informative.

Jai une prof qui me donne le course de CSST maintenant qui et une de mais seul soirce dinformation le l'histoire complex du syndicalisme dans l'industrie.

Et Lui est une ancienne membre de l'inter donc je voir just une cote, de le inter, FTQ et CSN labrynth.

Phebus
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Apr 15 2007 16:17

Chuck, your comments in the context of Quebec dont make sense. First of, there's no need for 'an organising union' in the construction industry. It is provincialy closed shop since the early 1970's, 100% of the worker's belong to a union and the contracts are enforced provincialy.

Second, the CSN, despite being rather democratic, is indeed an organising union. Organising is formaly centralised at the confederation level with some special budgets and campaign at the federal (industrial) level. Despite loosing ten's of thousands of members in the manufacturing industry in recent years, the confederation have reached the historic level of 300 000+ members.

Third, SEIU and UNITE HERE are almost non-existent in Quebec and Canada and are comparatively small and weak unions. SEIU have been beaten by the CSN in Quebec (where they only represent 27 000 members, a fifth of what the CSN represent in the industry) and CUPE in Canada and, except for a few members here and there, is confined to it's traditional industry (maintenance and cleaning of buildings). UNITE was still relatively strong and representing a fourth of textile (25 000 members) but the CSD and CSN are reprensenting as many people and anyway contracts are enforced provincialy. HERE was historicaly made of of a bunch of corrupt local's and was basicly driven out ofthe country in the 1980's by the combine forces of the CSN in Quebec and CAW and UFCW in the rest of the country. Today they only represent 25 000 members and are the fourth union in their core industry (CAW being the first, CSN the second despite being limited to Quebec and UFCW the third).

In general, despite the destruction of traditional union jobs the Quebec based unions are able to match the loss with new members as is shown by the union density wich is not changing. And those making most of the organising are not the SEIU and UNITE HERE. In fact, as could be expected, the biggest unions are the one doing most the work (CSN, CUPE, CAW, UFCW, CSQ, PSAC, etc.).

Hey, guess what, Canada is not the US... it is a different country.

throwhen
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Apr 15 2007 18:37
Phebus wrote:
Chuck, your comments in the context of Quebec dont make sense. First of, there's no need for 'an organising union' in the construction industry. It is provincialy closed shop since the early 1970's, 100% of the worker's belong to a union and the contracts are enforced provincialy.

Second, the CSN, despite being rather democratic, is indeed an organising union. Organising is formaly centralised at the confederation level with some special budgets and campaign at the federal (industrial) level. Despite loosing ten's of thousands of members in the manufacturing industry in recent years, the confederation have reached the historic level of 300 000+ members.

Third, SEIU and UNITE HERE are almost non-existent in Quebec and Canada and are comparatively small and weak unions. SEIU have been beaten by the CSN in Quebec (where they only represent 27 000 members, a fifth of what the CSN represent in the industry) and CUPE in Canada and, except for a few members here and there, is confined to it's traditional industry (maintenance and cleaning of buildings). UNITE was still relatively strong and representing a fourth of textile (25 000 members) but the CSD and CSN are reprensenting as many people and anyway contracts are enforced provincialy. HERE was historicaly made of of a bunch of corrupt local's and was basicly driven out ofthe country in the 1980's by the combine forces of the CSN in Quebec and CAW and UFCW in the rest of the country. Today they only represent 25 000 members and are the fourth union in their core industry (CAW being the first, CSN the second despite being limited to Quebec and UFCW the third).

In general, despite the destruction of traditional union jobs the Quebec based unions are able to match the loss with new members as is shown by the union density wich is not changing. And those making most of the organising are not the SEIU and UNITE HERE. In fact, as could be expected, the biggest unions are the one doing most the work (CSN, CUPE, CAW, UFCW, CSQ, PSAC, etc.).

Hey, guess what, Canada is not the US... it is a different country.

I understand and I know the history of my union in canada.

I also understand that the industry does not care if it's quebec or toronot, or british columbia or america or puerto rico or mexico or thailand. nationally based unions are a problem, an even greater problem is unions that appeal to regional or provincial identy and are based on fighting in their geography and not the entire industry.

the best change in HERE was our change to centralism in fighting the industry and not focusing on location.

Phebus
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Apr 15 2007 19:06

Being in a union where the power is invested in a direction located in another country is also a serious problem. See the recent strike at the Canadian National for exemple. There are no such thing as "International Unions". The only thing there is are american unions with canadian members. We are the only country in the world where this happen. And it's not like the american unions where so good that they could teach the world a lesson.

syndicalist
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Apr 16 2007 01:15

For your further info. only. No endorsement of the politics of UDR intended.

From the January-February 2007 issue of Union Democracy Review #166

How the Ironworkers and Pipefitters rig trusteeships
Before the LMRDA, union-imposed trusteeships over recalcitrant locals could be forever. Under John L. Lewis, trusteeships over Miners' districts dragged out for twenty years with no end in sight. Internationals could loot the treasuries of rich trusteed locals. The federal law adopted in 1959 gave locals some protection against retaliation. Trusteeships lost any presumption of validity after 18 months. Legislators may have imagined that the law corrected most abuses, but they did not count upon the ingenious ability of top leaders to invent devices to circumvent the law. Here come the Ironworkers and the Plumbers-Pipefitters unions.

Ironworkers Local 387: This 900-member local in Atlanta, Georgia, has been under trusteeship intermittently for over 30 years. According to our records, the first dated from 1974. Then again in 1993. And again in 1998. One trusteeship would expire. After an interlude, came another. During this period the international signed contracts (denounced by some members as concessionary) without membership ratification; it put over a dues increase, and it weakened the local's control over job referrals.

But that's not all. In 2004, during one period of freedom, while the local was under scrutiny by the Labor Department, an independent-minded insurgent, James Odom, was elected to the top post of business manager. He didn't survive long. After he charged that some of the local's money had been mishandled, the local was put under trusteeship again in July 2005; Odum was removed. The trusteeship's 18 months of grace expired in January 2007. Odum says that the international wants to renew it for at least another year.

Back in 2001, when Carl Bishop and Oscar Ingram, two Local 387 members, complained about the misuse of union funds, they were charged with slander, fined, and ordered to apologize. Represented by Arthur Fox, an AUD Director, they were reinstated by order of a federal judge who voided the union charges and ordered the international to remove from its constitution the charges under which they had been charged.

This was not the first rebuke suffered by the Ironworkers union in federal court on union democracy issues. In 1987 the union constitution forbade one local union from communicating with another on union business without permission of the international executive board. After suit in federal court by two Seattle Ironworkers, who were represented by attorney Paul Levy, an AUD Director, a federal court voided the repressive provision.

Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 250:

This California local was trusteed by the international back in February 2003. The trusteeship appeared to have been "voluntarily" lifted in June 2004. But the international utilized its peremptory powers during the trusteeship period to impose new bylaws on the local: business agents, as in many other Pipefitter locals, had been elected by the membership, but the new bylaws erased that membership right and provided for the appointment of all BA's. However, the local had presumably regained its autonomy. In accordance with the provisions of the new bylaws, Loran Forbes collected the required number of signatures on a petition for a membership referendum on his proposal to restore the membership right to elect.

It was not to be. When Forbes tried to present the petition to a membership meeting, the president ruled it out of order. In defense of his ruling, he read a letter from the new international president, William P. Hite, who explained that the local did not exactly enjoy autonomy; in lifting the trusteeship, the international had imposed five years of "probation." And so no major bylaw change was permissible. Forbes charges that the "probation" is an illegal extension of the trusteeship. He faces one practical difficulty in documenting his case: his request for an actual copy of the Hite letter has been denied.

Other articles on the UA:
Hiring Hall Procedures in the Construction Trades
The eternal quest for fair hiring in construction
Last year's scandal hangs over next Plumbers convention
Top Plumbers international officers expelled
UA's Maddaloni and Patchell ousted after disastrous pension investments in Florida hotel
Interview with UA reformer Frank Natalie
New voices at AUD construction trades conference
Court orders Plumbers and Fitters to remove anti-democratic rule
Pipefitters win points in battle for democracy.

http://www.uniondemocracy.org/UDR/143-How_the_Ironworkers_and_Pipefitters_rig_trusteeships.htm

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MJ
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Apr 16 2007 04:31
Phebus wrote:
There are no such thing as "International Unions".

ever?

what?

rebelworker
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Apr 16 2007 10:42

In effect, in Canada, an international union means its a large US union with some locals in Canada. Policy is directed down towards us often with absolutly no respect for whats happening in Canada. "International" is just used by some US unions that open up for buisness up here. Mo members in Mexico or overseas. Just Canada. There are often decerts or the formation of new unions that come out alot better. The Canadian Autoworkers (CAW) is one of the most powerful unions here. It was a split from an unresponsive American union. In BC where Im from, the carpenters were in a large battle to form a local independant union recently.

The link about the CN strike posted above by Phebus is the most recent example of this phenom.

syndicalist
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Apr 16 2007 12:45

The CAW broke from the UAW mainly over the question of concessions to the auto bosses. My old friend Bruce Allen has been a CAW member from the start (and before that UAW). He's written some interesting articles on the CAW's slide.

I can't seem to find a more recent article, but here's what I come up with at the moment:

http://www.labournet.net/world/0604/caw1.html
http://newsocialist.org/newsite/index.php?id=994

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thugarchist
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Apr 16 2007 14:14
rebelworker wrote:
In effect, in Canada, an international union means its a large US union with some locals in Canada. Policy is directed down towards us often with absolutly no respect for whats happening in Canada. "International" is just used by some US unions that open up for buisness up here. Mo members in Mexico or overseas. Just Canada. There are often decerts or the formation of new unions that come out alot better. The Canadian Autoworkers (CAW) is one of the most powerful unions here. It was a split from an unresponsive American union. In BC where Im from, the carpenters were in a large battle to form a local independant union recently.

The link about the CN strike posted above by Phebus is the most recent example of this phenom.

US based unions have historically seen their Canadian operations as satelites and not meaningful really. That conception is changing for a couple of unions. SEIU is trying to have a canadian operation that'll function as a canadain operation. They have campaigns in Australia, Hong Kong, India, and a couple of South American countries. The building alliances with unions in germany, the UK, Belgium etc, between a number of US based unions are intentionally being built towards mergers (whether those will succeed or fail is up in the air of course). Regardless, there may very well be authentic mainstream internationals in the next 10 years.

throwhen
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Apr 16 2007 17:13

there will be international unions within the next five years.

Phebus
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Apr 16 2007 20:44

MJ: Altough rebelworker gave a good answer, I would also add that, no, there are no such things as "International Union's", esp. if the model is centralised & top down.

syndicalist: Even today, the CAW deal with issues differently then the UAW. See this report (in french) for a recent exemple. Despite the slide, this is still what I would call a fighting union.

thugarchist: Maybe SEIU is now well intentioned but I beleive it is too late as far as Canada go. The country is already where SEIU want's the US to be in 10 to 20 years and the field where they see themself operating is already almost fully occupied by the CSN (300 000 members, including 110 000 members in health and social services in Quebec) and CUPE (100 000 members, including 20 000 in health and social services in Quebec) while the SEIU only have about 27 000 in total in the province. They may be hiring and training some of our friends, the truth is that while they take them in Montreal, they soon send them in Toronto...

throwhen: The trend in Canada my friend is currently to get the hell out of the US based "International Union's" and not to join them. In 1970, 70% of the FTQ members where inside "International" local's while in 2000 it was the case for only 30%... wich mean's that, in total, only 10% of Quebec unionised worker's now belong to "International Union's". And the movement continue, the lattest move was the 34 000 canadian affiliates of OPEIU who split to forme the COPE. There are still strong "International Union's" operating in Canada, such as the Steelworker's and UFCW, but they are the exception rather then the norm.

There may well be a new fuctioning International in the next couple of years, but my guess is that it will be the result of a coalition of autonomous national unions and not of a movement of merger.

Question, how is the will of US based unions to have local's in different countries any different then the general US Imperialism?

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thugarchist
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Apr 16 2007 20:49
Phebus wrote:

Question, how is the will of US based unions to have local's in different countries any different then the general US Imperialism?

Whats an insulting way to say provincial hick in french?

Flint
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Apr 16 2007 20:54
thugarchist wrote:

Whats an insulting way to say provincial hick in french?

"Action démocratique du Québec"

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thugarchist
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Apr 16 2007 20:59
Flint wrote:
thugarchist wrote:

Whats an insulting way to say provincial hick in french?

"Action démocratique du Québec"

How do you say libertarian communist provincial hick then?

rebelworker
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Apr 16 2007 21:18

I guess you guys think our concerns are "funny" ie aww look at the cute little Canadians, they want to walk all by themselves....

But its not very funny up here. US imperialism is real. US labour unions collusion in US imerialism is also a very shameful history. The situation with unions is way better off up here, why you guys think you should be sowing the rest of the world how things should be done is just beyond me. Do you not see what a total joke this is to everyone outside of the US?

Do I have things to learn from Americans? Yes. Do Americans have more to learn from how things are done outside of the US? Mabey.

Im Ok with my multi colored money and large lefty democratic fighting unions that organise, thank you very much. Duke I generally respect what you have to say about labour politics, and chuck despite our past public head butting (I was dave on ATRHA), I generally listen to what you have to say, but the way things are in the US labour movement now and for most of the last 60 years the "internationals" can go fuck themselves.

PS, Duke I worked for SEIU in canada, I was infact hired by an american, and what is happening is US strategy being shoved down the throats of alot of locals that dont want it. The union is strategising based on the eventual death of public healthcare in Canada so they can pick up new private employees. Needless to say, despite being under alot of pressure and in a rough spot, Canadain healthcare is not dead, and if unions were all fighting to defend it instead of circling like vultures mabey we can save it. Thankfully SEIU will not be a central player in that fight.

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Apr 16 2007 21:27
rebelworker wrote:

PS, Duke I worked for SEIU in canada, I was infact hired by an american, and what is happening is US strategy being shoved down the throats of alot of locals that dont want it. The union is strategising based on the eventual death of public healthcare in Canada so they can pick up new private employees. Needless to say, despite being under alot of pressure and in a rough spot, Canadain healthcare is not dead, and if unions were all fighting to defend it instead of circling like vultures mabey we can save it. Thankfully SEIU will not be a central player in that fight.

SEIU isn't shoving a US strategy down your throats. They're shoving an SEIU strategy down your throats. If you're gonna lodge a complaint at least make sure its correct. Ultimately Mott will build what he was sent to build.

PS. Yes. Canadians are funny.

rebelworker
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Apr 16 2007 21:35

well to get into character, I wanted to apologise if the last post came off a bit over the top, It snowed again yesterday and I havent had a drink in over a week so Im a little bit touchy right now.

PS Americans are good to laugh at.

rebelworker
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Apr 16 2007 21:38

PPS Mott is really fun to laugh at., hes pushing an SEIU strategy dreamed up in US bodies where I believe Canadian members have no say. I stand by my criticism.