Date: Tue, 24 Sep 1996 13:40:00 -0500
From: L-Soft list server at MIZZOU1 (1.8b) <>

--> Database ACTIV-L, 9389 hits.
> print 09305
>>> Item number 9305, dated 96/09/22 01:26:34—ALL
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 1996 01:26:34 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: Rich Winkel <>
Organization: PACH
Subject: All Out Labr War Warns BC Labr Union Pres

/** 316.0 **/
** Topic: All Out Labr War Warns BC Labr Union Pres **
** Written 4:11 PM Sep 20, 1996 by labornews in **
From: Institute for Global Communications <>
Subject: All Out Labr War Warns BC Labr Union Pres

Shields warns Premier of ‘all-out’ labor war

By Karen Gram, The Vancouver Sun, Friday 20 September 1996, A1 / front

The BCGEU head fires his first salvo at the B.C. government for pandering to business interests at the expense of the working class.

The president of the B.C. Government Employees' Union said Thursday he no longer believes Premier Glen Clark is on the side of middle and working class people in B.C.

In the first salvo of what he promises could become an all-out war between the union and government, John Shields said Clark is pandering to the banking and American bond-rating interests when he says he will balance the budget by laying off up to half the unionized employees on the government payroll.

But Clark said he is living up to his pre-election promise of a balanced budget and that means tough choices.

What I can't do is respond to interest groups or advocacy groups, said Clark.

Liberal leader Gordon Campbell said Shields' tough talk is designed to create the appearance that Clark is tough on B.C.'s dominant public-sector union, even though it was a major election supporter.

John Shields is supposed to stand up and put out that kind of rhetoric and Glen Clark is supposed to look like Mr. Tough Guy, said Campbell.

Shields said Clark's determination to cut $750 million -- half the unionized payroll—from government expenditures through layoffs demonstrates how far he has strayed from the pre-election rhetoric about protecting jobs and public services.

Now he is making a determination that it is more important to pay off the banks with their record profits than protect the jobs of the government workers.

There is nothing sacrosanct about a balanced budget, he said. I'd worry less about the banks, which are making record profits, than I would about the wage earners who will lose their jobs.

Shields said the cuts will inevitably reduce service to the public.

It could end all attempts to protect children as recommended by the Gove commission. It could mean the early release into the community for hundreds of criminals because there won't be enough staff to look after them. It could mean real and tangible cuts in alcohol and drug treatment, transition houses, child care and other services that are part of the fabric of every community in the province.

Shields says he can see little difference between what Clark is doing and what the Liberals would have done if elected.

It seems to me the Liberals would have cut the public services and acted with glee, the NDP is cutting public services and saying they are sorry.

Last week, Shields said layoffs were inevitable given the financial constraints of the government. But Thursday, Shields said he expected to work with the government to find alternatives.

He said he is still willing to work with the government, but claimed there has been no response to his overtures.

[Finance Minister Andrew] Petter promised he would get back to us positively and he has not. It seems to me that's a pretty clear message. Silence is the action.

But in a press release, Petter said he had invited Shields to meet Thursday morning, but the union president decided to hold a press conference criticizing the government instead.

He said the government squanders money in every department and that the number of managers per employee has ballooned in recent years.

One high-priced manager for every three employees -- that is a stupid way of doing business, he said.

If the government continues to pursue this course of action, Shields said he will not hesitate to respond aggressively, beginning with an advertising campaign and ending with traditional militant action.

I'm not ruling out any course of action, he said.

Clark said that if Shields wages war with the government, he will not shy away from his responsibility to taxpayers.

That's what government is all about, he said. I've never been afraid of that before.

Clark said that while the people of British Columbia want jobs, they want to see savings in government bureaucracy more.

There will be layoffs in the public service, I am quite candid about that, he said. But we will try to do it as compassionately as possible.

He said government waste and duplication will be targeted, as will unnecessary administrative costs.

And while Clark said he is disappointed Shields has taken this stand, he said he can understand it.

I understand that he has to advocate for his members.