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Author Topic: the bossagram 'n other union stuff
N.Beltov
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posted 21 February 2005 11:33 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Employees working unpaid extra hours can now send their manager an anonymous bossagram, suggesting that he or she should show some gratitude for their unpaid overtime on this Fridays Work Your Proper Hours day (25th Feb).

Your boss will read the following on Friday the 25th:

quote:
'Morning, Boss! Someone in your team has asked us to let you know that it's Work Your Proper Hours Day today. February 25th is on average the first day that people who do unpaid overtime would get paid if they did all their extra hours at the start of the year.
It's an opportunity for every manager to say thank you to their staff for their hard work and commitment, and maybe even buy them an after work drink after leaving work at the proper time for once. And if it's any consolation, managers do even more hours. Official statistics show an average manager clocks up nearly nine hours extra a week - worth nearly 9,000 a year. So you deserve a break too!'

A nice contrast to all that r-w crap about "tax freedom day".

Send a long hours bossagram this week.

[ 23 February 2005: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
mr. wonderful
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posted 22 February 2005 12:44 PM      Profile for mr. wonderful        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Bravo! Let's burn down the factories!
From: Toronto | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 22 February 2005 12:51 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That's one way to reduce unpaid overtime. I don't think it's the best way, however.
From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 22 February 2005 12:54 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
His profile says he's unemployed. Maybe he wants everyone to be unemployed too.
From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Coyote
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posted 22 February 2005 01:03 PM      Profile for Coyote   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Paul Orhndorff unemployed? How tragic.
From: O for a good life, we just might have to weaken. | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
kingblake
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posted 22 February 2005 01:05 PM      Profile for kingblake     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

From: In Regina, the land of Exotica | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
No Yards
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posted 22 February 2005 01:15 PM      Profile for No Yards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Magoo:
His profile says he's unemployed. Maybe he wants everyone to be unemployed too.

If you can't afford to pay your employees for the hours they work, then shouldn't one be reconsidering the viability of the business?

According to the freemarket theory, shouldn't an unfit company that can't afford to pay for the work necessary to produce the product it makes, be allowed to take its natural course into the jaws of the economicly "fittest"?

If all these unpaid overtime wages were paid, then assuming a 50% overall tax rate, that would be one less month to wait for "tax freedom day" ... and since more people paying more money would mean the government reached their goal quicker, maybe another month or so could be cut off that "tax freedom day" wait as well.


From: Defending traditional marriage since June 28, 2005 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
unmaladroit
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posted 22 February 2005 01:57 PM      Profile for unmaladroit        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by No Yards:
If you can't afford to pay your employees for the hours they work, then shouldn't one be reconsidering the viability of the business?...

it's not always the viability of the business/affording to pay workers their due. it's a "cheapness" mindset that is pervasive in all industries.

for example, in the hospitality industry, there's a double standard in favour of the employer. servers, and now support staff (cooks, dishwashers, hostesses), are expected to be on shift, dressed in attire, and ready to work 15 minutes before their scheduled start time. very few people question it. those that do are usually replaced, or downgraded on the schedule for their whining, causing the person to search other employment. this 15 minutes is unpaid. furthurmore, the double edged sword of employment often makes the server and bartender do their required cashout on their own time, not paid. as a bartender i've often taken 30 minutes to count out that $1000 float with buckets of rolled coin, and submit a $3000 cashout, with visa, mastercard, amex, enroute, gift certificates, etc...all in order and in a pouch. unpaid!. 5 days/week.

on top of that, there are no 15 minute breaks when you have a section. and i haven't had a 1/2 hour break to eat "lunch" on an 8-10 hour shift since working for a major hotel chain, with union. ducking behind the bar to munch a chicken wing, or eating on the run, bread crumbs wiped on sleeve before getting to the table are more like the reality for canada's largest employment sector.

for 20 years i've played that game. duck and cover, feeling guilty for taking a second to have a sip of water. never do you hear the word "union" in a bar or restaurant, nor do i hear many people even in rabble defend the working conditions of the service industry. whatever.

but here's a story, once told elsewhere in babble. after i was let go from a resort restaurant, unjustly (i had requested 2 weeks off, 3 weeks in advance and after the season was over, and denied, so i offered 2 weeks notice of employment, and was promptly fired), i asked what my compensation would be on my final paycheck. i was told they didn't have to give anything, even one week's termination pay. so i contacted the labour relations board in BC. they were so glad to hear from me, because i had all of my hours documented over the course of the year. "we've had lots of complaints about them", LRB said, "did they pay you for overtime or vacation pay?". "nope", said i. "fax us the records".

after the settlement for unpaid vacation time, overtime, and the termination pay, and my subsequent being barred from the establishment, the staff were told in a special meeting that I was the reason nobody would be able to work overtime in the upcoming season. (not that the restaurant selling $5 million/year would pay anybody overtime if they worked it.

there's a saying in the restaurant biz: "nobody is irreplacable."


From: suspicionville, bc | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
No Yards
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posted 22 February 2005 02:16 PM      Profile for No Yards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A company that can't treat their employees with respect, doesn't deserve to be in business either ... government should step in and close that restaurant down ... it's not fair to the employees, and it's not fair to honest restaurants that want to work within the rules and treat their employees with respect.
From: Defending traditional marriage since June 28, 2005 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
unmaladroit
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posted 22 February 2005 03:53 PM      Profile for unmaladroit        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
the hospitality industry operates under a separate set of rules. both written and unwritten. for example, written: lower than minimum wage. unwritten: 15 minutes before shift, and unpaid cashouts. these are standard practices. believe me, i have a 30+ restaurant case scenario to draw upon, from personal experience.

and i have been told by management in more than one place: "i have a stack of resumes and applications on my desk for your job. you don't like it? leave. no sweat off my brow. no-one is irreplaceable."

a complaint about one restaurant by a few people doesn't create massive change. when are the unions going to include service staff in an encompassing fair wage, equal treatment, compensation, honest work environment? (textiles unions don't cut it.) aren't unions supposed to be working for the working man? then why isn't the largest employment sector in canada represented by any reasonable semblance of one?

by the way - that place i talked about earlier is in whistler, immediately at the base of blackcomb mountain, and calls itself a "grill"...if you ever want to boycott a place for its employment practices.


From: suspicionville, bc | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
robbie_dee
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posted 22 February 2005 04:36 PM      Profile for robbie_dee     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think the food service/hospitality sector needs to be organized in the worst way. Low wages, unpaid overtime and denied breaks, crazy scheduling, harassing managers (or customers!) and rampant health and safety risks. I saw this all myself and I only worked in the sector very briefly while I was in school. I have heard many horror stories from friends and family who have stayed.

In my opinion, something needs to be done for sure. But who is going to get the ball rolling?


From: Iron City | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
unmaladroit
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posted 22 February 2005 04:50 PM      Profile for unmaladroit        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by robbie_dee:
...In my opinion, something needs to be done for sure. But who is going to get the ball rolling?

how about some of the pro-union types here on babble? i'm sure they know how to organize a union. but would they want to?

sadly - no-one wants to pay more for their pint of beer or pasta salad - and that's what would happen if unionization occured in the hospitality industry. owners would pass on the extra costs of fair wages and more hours to the consumer.

and there will always be the "unwritten rules" endemic in a highly transient workforce. "young and dumb, that's how we like 'em"


From: suspicionville, bc | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
verbatim
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posted 22 February 2005 05:05 PM      Profile for verbatim   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by unmaladroit:
...sadly - no-one wants to pay more for their pint of beer or pasta salad - and that's what would happen if unionization occured in the hospitality industry. owners would pass on the extra costs of fair wages and more hours to the consumer.

Yeah, but how much could they really up the price before they priced themselves out of business? At some point they'd just have to suck it up and take less profits. Which would probably mean less restaurants and bars, overall.

I was involved in the initial stages of a workplace organization once. I left the job before the ratification came down, but it was with IATSE.


From: The People's Republic of Cook Street | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
unmaladroit
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posted 22 February 2005 06:47 PM      Profile for unmaladroit        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by verbatim:

Yeah, but how much could they really up the price before they priced themselves out of business? At some point they'd just have to suck it up and take less profits. Which would probably mean less restaurants and bars, overall...

i agree that there would be fewer restaurants and bars, and the quality of those establishments' product would increase to entice people out of their homes. i like those ideas.

i see there are a couple of other threads that are addressing unions and minimum wage. why aren't those arguments showing up here? imagine a hospitality industry union that provided nothing else other than job security. i'll be shocked to see it happen in my lifetime.

comments?


From: suspicionville, bc | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
robbie_dee
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posted 22 February 2005 06:58 PM      Profile for robbie_dee     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Unmal - I am one of the pro-union types on babble. But I can't organize a union for anybody. The way that unions work is that the workers who want a union have to take it upon themselves to form the union. Other people can provide advice and support. Sometimes existing unions can send in professional organizers to encourage workers to join up. But ultimately the demand for the union has ultimately got to come from the workers themselves because they are going to be the ones who have to vote yes or no in a union election, and may have to take strike action if that is what it takes to convince their employer to change its behavior.

I've found in the past that it is really hard to get this sort of thing together in the retail or service sector precisely because the jobs are so bad. You can often get a small group of people together who are fired up and ready to rumble. But unfortunately, there are a lot of other workers would rather just quit and move onto a different job, rather than staying and fighting to try to improve the one they have. Likewise, as Verbatim points out, the industry is often so competitive that even if you manage to get a union into one business, it is difficult to win very large gains, at least in pay, because you'll undercut the employer's ability to compete. Heck, even without unions, many of these businesses are opening and closing all the time.

That being said, I think there are strategies to deal with this. One of them is to focus on nonmonetary issues like job security. Another is to focus on tactics that would seek to raise the standards for workers in broad geographic areas, rather than trying to organize workplace by workplace. A lot of the big existing unions don't do much of this because it is outside their normal range of experience and competence. But I am sure we could kick around some strategies on this site as a starting point? It might be worth a separate thread, though, I don't want to drag this one off-topic.

[ 22 February 2005: Message edited by: robbie_dee ]


From: Iron City | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
unmaladroit
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posted 22 February 2005 07:14 PM      Profile for unmaladroit        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
yeah robbie, i know that about union organization. it is precisely because of the huge number of establishments, everywhere, that it is difficult to mobilize or centralize the process. unions won'tdo it, and workers can't.

owners don't like hearing the word either...talk about upsetting the status quo. i've heard of people getting fired for thinking such a thing. (albeit aloud).

like this government hospitality industry tax/surcharge ("serving it right"), i fear provincial governments might become the catalysts for fair representation of the workers in the sector. although the LRB has helped to some extent. so anything, even if government sponsored, would be better for the workers.


From: suspicionville, bc | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
radiorahim
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posted 22 February 2005 07:20 PM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
how about some of the pro-union types here on babble? i'm sure they know how to organize a union. but would they want to?

Primarily, (but not exclusively) its been HERE and UFCW who've organized in the hospitality sector and yes those unions definitely want to organize more folks. I can't think of any union that doesn't want more members.

Basically, the rules vary from province to province but you approach a union that you want to organize with and you get your co-workers to sign membership cards. Important...you can't sign workers up on company time.

Some jurisdictions allow for "automatic certification" once you've signed up the majority of workers (Quebec for example)...others don't and everything has to go to a labour board supervised vote (post Mike Harris Ontario).

Going to a vote is always harder because it gives the employer a chance to intimidate workers between the certification application and the vote.

You also can get into legal hassles about who has the right to vote and who doesn't...and employers have this habit of trying to drag things through the courts forever on flimsy grounds...they just about always lose...but winning/losing isn't the game...the game is delaying in the hope that support for the union will weaken, some of the folks who did the original organizing will have moved on to other jobs etc.

If you get past the certification stuff and your co-workers are solid, the next thing is trying to negotiate a first contract.

If you end up on strike, only Quebec and BC (Saskatchewan?) have anti-scab legislation...everywhere else employers can scab you...and in the hospitality sector they most likely will.

Quebec and Saskatchewan do have first contract arbitration laws which allow either side to apply for binding arbitration to settle a first collective agreement. I think Manitoba has "final offer selection"...but someone could correct me.

Anyway, "on paper" organizing a union is fairly easy. In practice, its extremely hard. Firing people for organizing a union is illegal in every jurisdiction, but its done all the time.

You need to organize clandestinely and have the job basically all done before the boss finds out about it...and "who dunnit". Your co-workers have to be strong and stick together through what can be a very long process.


From: a Micro$oft-free computer | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
robbie_dee
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posted 22 February 2005 07:34 PM      Profile for robbie_dee     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't know if it is better to hash this subject out further on this thread or on a separate, specifically dedicated one. While all you guys were responding with very thoughtful posts, I was busy starting another thread here:

Organizing unions for service and hospitality workers

I hope I'm not derailing anyone here or anything. I just thought it would be better to have a topical thread rather than one under the ambiguously named "the bossogram." I don't know?

[ 22 February 2005: Message edited by: robbie_dee ]


From: Iron City | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
unmaladroit
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posted 23 February 2005 10:53 AM      Profile for unmaladroit        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
sounds good to me robbie_dee. see you on the other side.

(it'll be interesting to see how many current or former hospitality babblers, who read the labour and consumption forum, weigh in on the subject.)

as far as doing the bossagram goes, my current situation doesn't allow me to contend my current situation. i'm the only employee in a business of three, working under the table that i'm working. (i have to make ends meet any way i can, living in the economically depressed east kootenays, well-known for its family compact protectionist hiring practices).

every standard is being broken. i do whatever i am asked in order to keep the only job i've been able to find in over a year living in the region. as a matter of fact, i created the job, selling myself unlike any prostitution i've ever imagined.
suffice to say - requesting fair treatment with regards to hours is a matter of telling the owner, not sending him a bossagram or threatening to organize a union. 8O)


From: suspicionville, bc | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 23 February 2005 10:59 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I've changed the title of this thread to better reflect the contents.
From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 23 February 2005 11:14 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I like the bossagram, but I've been self-employed, aka freelance, aka a piece-worker for a long time, and that message doesn't quite apply to the situation of contract or outsourced workers.

Still, there must be a way. Freelancers in my biz get manipulated into working for free, or for lower rates than agreed upon, all the time, and if anything that is getting worse. I'm sure many contract workers have similar problems.

Still, very clever idea, hitching it by contrast to "Tax Freedom Day."


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
brebis noire
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posted 23 February 2005 11:27 AM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by skdadl:
Freelancers in my biz get manipulated into working for free, or for lower rates than agreed upon, all the time, and if anything that is getting worse. I'm sure many contract workers have similar problems.


Argh, I can identify, as a translator. Part of the problem is that in one sense it's so 'easy' to get work on the Internet but that means you're not really a person anymore, you're just an e-mail address. You don't have real human needs, but you are programmed for efficiency. Therefore, outsourcers see no problem in sending texts on Friday at 5:00 with a Monday am deadline, and you will be paid, by company 'policy' two or three months later. I really hope this situation doesn't get worse...

I love being a freelancer (because of the 'free' part) but there are some days when I not only feel isolated, but also as if everybody were my boss.


From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 23 February 2005 11:33 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Those payment policies! Over the years, we have regularly heard of company accountants instructing managing editors to delay the freelancers' invoices for as long as possible, and that delay gets longer and longer year by year.

There oughta be a law! *grimace*


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
brebis noire
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posted 23 February 2005 11:38 AM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thanks, skdadl. Next time I see that on a work order, I am going to point it out to the contact person and make my small voice complain.
As for the 'law' - a lot of my contracts where they do this come from overseas, so whose law would apply? I guess I could refuse, but how many of us can refuse work on a consistent basis...

From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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posted 23 February 2005 11:41 AM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by skdadl:
Over the years, we have regularly heard of company accountants instructing managing editors to delay the freelancers' invoices for as long as possible, and that delay gets longer and longer year by year.

That's the cash flow game and it's by no means limited to your industry. A lot of companies do it. Right up until you refuse to do a support call because you haven't been paid for the last two. Suddenly a cheque appears out of nowhere and is waiting at the front desk.


From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 23 February 2005 11:46 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
But pogge: that's because the work you do is important.

The work I do is ... not so important.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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posted 23 February 2005 11:49 AM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Minor correction: it's important when something breaks and no one on staff knows how to fix it. The rest of the time, not so much.
From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
angrymonkey
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posted 23 February 2005 01:54 PM      Profile for angrymonkey     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Therefore, outsourcers see no problem in sending texts on Friday at 5:00 with a Monday am deadline, and you will be paid, by company 'policy' two or three months later. I really hope this situation doesn't get worse...

Boy, is that familiar. And I've freelanced for freelancers before and trying to establish regular working hours was impossible. I wouldn't know when work was coming and was essentially on call any time of day or night. And I couldn't seem to communicate how outrageous a situation this was.


From: the cold | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 23 February 2005 01:57 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by pogge:
Minor correction: it's important when something breaks and no one on staff knows how to fix it. The rest of the time, not so much.

This stuff breaks???


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Bacchus
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posted 23 February 2005 02:00 PM      Profile for Bacchus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
That's the cash flow game and it's by no means limited to your industry.

The worst for that was hospitals. They would make you wait up to a year for payment on a invoice, minimum 200 days


From: n/a | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Wicked Chicken
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posted 24 February 2005 07:37 PM      Profile for Wicked Chicken     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Our Times published a story about the struggle to organize a large restaurant in Victoria, BC in the July/Sept 1999 issue and the full text is available for those of you who can access univeristy-type databases.

Here's the citation:

McGarrigle, Gavin. "Hope in Hospitality - Winning a First Contract at the Cheesecake Cafe". Our Times. July/Sept 1999

Here's a preview from the Our Times archive site: http://www.ourtimes.ca/contents/99jul.html

HOPE IN HOSPITALITY
It is 11 pm, and we are tailing a white refrigeration truck on the road leading from Victoria to the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay. We are not the police. We are not criminals. We are striking workers, determined to negotiate a first contract with our employer, the Cheesecake Caf


From: Victoria | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged

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