One thing necessary for any labour dispute to truly be resolved is this: after a settlement is reached, everything must go back to normal.
One thing about filing a lawsuit against those weighing in on an ongoing labour dispute — as the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) has over its ongoing dispute with Support for Artspace Independent Living (SAIL) is that it brings questions about that dispute to a grinding halt. Which is a shame. Because this is a question that must be asked about the dispute:
How does anything at Artspace go back to normal again? How does anything become the way it was before?
Yesterday, I wrote about a June 11, 2014 incident in which an air raid siren was used to disrupt the morning of Artspace residents. In that video, an AUPE picketer is in a face-to-face confrontation with a neighbour, who had apparently come out to protest that the air raid siren had upset his son. The AUPE picketer simply tells the neighbour that he doesn’t care about the man’s son. His foul strongarm tactics are disrupting this man’s morning and that of his family, but the AUPE picketer doesn’t care.
How do relations between AUPE-organized healthcare workers at Artspace and the coop’s neighbours go back to normal after something like that? Well, that’s an important question. But not as important a question as this:
How do AUPE members go back to work after some of the things that have gone on?
Let’s be more specific. Again, we have video evidence to direct our questions.
In a July 8, 2014 incident, an unidentified Artspace resident gets into a verbal altercation with an AUPE picketer. The AUPE picketer is identified by the video as Angel Colvin. The video identifies the Artspace resident only as being not a board member.
In the video, an Edmonton Transit Service Disabled Adult Transportation Services (DATS) vehicle is helping the Artpsace resident involved. The video does not make it clear whether the resident is arriving at or departing from the building. The video does not make it clear which of the two initiated the confrontation. Even with these details being in question — if they are material at all — what follows is not.
The confrontation becomes heated. At one point the person identified as Colvin is heard saying “I’d like to fucking smack [inaudible] so hard right now.”
Whether the individual identified as Colvin is indeed Colvin or not — this author freely admits to difficulty making a positive ID from the YouTube video — one thing is for certain: this individual is an AUPE picketer who has just used some very violent language in the course of a verbal altercation with an Artspace resident.
How does that person go back to work at Artspace and expect everything to go back to normal? She is an able-bodied woman who has just used violent language in the course of a verbal confrontation with a disabled person. There are issues of vulnerability at play which make it impossible for this to go away with a simple apology. Whoever this AUPE picketer is, saying “sorry” is not going to make that go away.
In AUPE’s defense — however meagre it may be — a stop was eventually put to these verbal confrontations. But not until many complaints were lodged by Artspace residents and staff.
The question — discouraged by lawsuits as it may be — seems obvious: with all the things that have transpired between AUPE picketers, with AUPE brass present, and Artspace residents, how do any of these people go back to work? This isn’t a question that only applies to the subject of this YouTube video. It applies to every single AUPE member who stood by and watched as these things took place. How is this a situation that ever goes back to normal?
The answer seems obvious: it doesn’t. Not ever. Not so long as AUPE and its members are involved.
No wonder AUPE has moved to silence such questions.