11 May 2007

Who's Going To Win the War?

Was a time when the contract between the big coastal logging and sawmilling companies and their union workers was due for renegotiation stories about the two opposing side's bargaining positions were a big deal in Dope City. Tens of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in profits would be at stake. The IWA was always ready to strike and the industry was always ready to make a show of how it would not be bullied by the union leaders and beer gut class that supported them.

Now no more than a few thousand jobs hang in the balance, less and less every year for decades. And the profits are not as extravagant now that the easily logged valleys of first growth timber are just about all gone and the loggers are doing their job in the highest reaches of the mountains in territory increasingly distant from the complaints of gas prices and real estate gouging in the marijuana cafes and bars of the town once known across Canada as Boom Town.

Now if an impasse at the bargaining table is reached not one sawmill will be behind a picket line in the city limits of Dope City. News about picket lines being set up will not be found on the front page of our city's two shitty newspapers.

And the workers will not be able to count on the support of the people in a city they once dominated like fishing once dominated Newfoundland. Green leaning city folk have long memories of union loggers beating up hippies in our often contested forests.

Just the same, this summer's bargaining will be the Steelworkers' first go at bargaining a contract for a group of workers never easy to please who got fucked by their union, the companies and the government during the last set of negotiations. And across the table from them are a bunch of companies that would sooner ship all the logs South to America and Mexico than deal with hot head Canadian workers at all.

I am paying attention, even if you are not.

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