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Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) locals in Windsor blanketed residents of that city with more than just good wishes when they and other unions sent out season’s greetings cards pointing out that service cuts that will occur with the city’s proposed budget for 2008.

Sporting smiling municipal employees in a Christmas setting, the cards were sent to every Windsor resident courtesy of CUPE 543 inside workers and CUPE 82 outside workers in cooperation with other public service unions including transit, firefighters, nurses, IBEW and others. The card asks residents to call the Mayor and their city councillor about the service reductions, and provides the appropriate telephone numbers to make calling easier.

CUPE members will be calling on Windsor City Council to join them in the “Fair Deal for our Cities” campaign rather than increasing the ranks of the unemployed in Windsor by cutting services.

The Fair Deal campaign, started in Toronto last summer, calls on the McGuinty Liberals to upload costs of the social service and other programs that were downloaded onto municipalities under the Harris/Eves governments of the 1990s. These downloads have caused extreme budgetary consequences and hardships for municipalities across the province.

McGuinty has consistently promised to fix the problem, but has done little but set up a 20-month long review that took him through the last election. In the meantime cities and towns across Ontario are drowning in the costs of provincially mandated programs the municipalities are now forced to fund.

The Windsor coalition and CUPE’s Ontario Municipal Employees Coordinating Committee want the city to pressure the province to complete their review and follow through on McGuinty’s promise to upload costs, thus relieving municipalities from unjust social service expenses and freeing them to continue to provide the services Ontarians deserve. Ontario is the only province in Canada to force municipalities to carry the costs of social services.

There is no doubt that Windsor is going to be reducing services with a proposed tax increase of less than one per cent in the coming year,” says Mark McArthur, President of CUPE 543. “We know that if this budget passes, there will be layoffs as well.”

McArthur said the CUPE locals, along with Windsor transit workers, firefighters, utility workers and the Civic Association of Non-Union Employees, came together because the public wasn’t paying enough attention to the issue. Local media had gotten the idea that municipal workers should make concessions to help out the city.

Our message is if you don’t pay taxes, you don’t get services. Attacking any workers’ jobs and wages isn’t going to help our community.

Residents of Sudbury, Hamilton and Ottawa will soon see similar campaigns in their communities, while the Toronto and Windsor campaigns continue.

CUPE 82 President Bob Farough took the actual photo that graced the cover of the Windsor greeting card.