"The unions are stronger than I have ever seen them," Pitfield said. "It's not healthy for the city. Perhaps it's time to start phasing out unions."
Pitfield seems like a smart woman and a common-sense pol, but she has never struck me as particularly visionary or bold – which any politician who dares question the existence of public sector unions would have to be.
By close of business yesterday Pitfield had issued a clarification:
"I wish to state clearly that organized labour can have an important role to play in municipal government and do not believe that they should be decertified or eliminated," she wrote. "However, this is clearly distinguishable from the increasing influence that unions have currently, which in my view is threatening the ability of our city to function to the best of its ability."
One of the few remaining contracts not handled by the unions is garbage pick-up in Etobicoke and York. City staff prepared a report saying it would cost $21 million extra for the city to take over those routes.
Pitfield said she'd like to sit down and speak to the heads of the city's unions about how the union contracts are stressing the city's operating budget. [insert laugh track here]
My regular readers (all five of them) will know that ”taking back our public services” is one of my most cherished hobbyhorses. While I continue to hope that some gutsy politician(s) will take up this fight someday, it’s obvious that Jane Pitfield is not going to be the one to do it.