Mayor Sam Katz’s Irresponsible Comment Quoted at WPA Arbitration Hearing

On January 17th 2012 I wrote a post about Mayor Katz’s irresponsible comments to the media.

An  article by Bartley Kives quoted the mayor as saying  “I can guarantee none of us would do that job for what they  get paid”.  This quote was in reference to Winnipeg police officers.

In my original post I suggested that the comment was inappropriate, especially during a contract negotiation year, and that the mayor’s remark would likely be used by the Winnipeg Police  Association to bolster its argument for a hefty pay increase.  I highly doubt the Mayor would make such a comment in relation to an upcoming negotiation that involved his own personal  money as opposed to public money.

On January 31st  2012 I briefly attended the labour arbitration hearing between the City of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Police Association.

The day started with Keith Labossiere, the lawyer representing the Winnipeg Police Association, outlining for the panel, the reason why the Association believes its members  should receive an 11.5 % pay increase over two years.   Mr. Labossiere began his presentation by repeating the Mayor’s statement:

I can guarantee none of us would do that job for what they get paid”,  as the lead in for his argument.

Mr. Labossiere then launched into his presentation which gave me a real sense of  deja vu.  Having sat through many arbitrations previously I quickly realized the Association would be relying on the same arguments they have been using at arbitration hearings for the last decade.

I suppose, though, from the Association’s perspective, ‘why would you change your lure as long as the fish keep biting’.  The argument has worked reasonably well in the past.

The arbitration hearings are slated to continue  through  February 3rd 2012,  Millennium Room, Winnipeg Convention Centre and February 6th & 7th 2012,  Ambassador Room, Canad Inns Polo Park.

The hearings run from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. and are open to the public.

17 comments on “Mayor Sam Katz’s Irresponsible Comment Quoted at WPA Arbitration Hearing

  1. Pete Zacharias says:

    HMMM…..Manipulated Politics seems to be everyday life these days. Enjoy your posts Menno.


  2. Harry Kuootir says:

    “I quickly realized the Association would be relying on the same arguments they have been using at arbitration hearings for the last decade.”

    What are these arguments? Can you elaborate on them for the rest of us? Is there any merit to these arguments?


  3. Terry Coleman says:

    One would think a Mayor would know better….but alas……………..


  4. McLeod says:

    For personal interest and to lend my support, I attended the arbitration hearing on Monday morning. There was a decent turnout of officers present. The only media person I recognized in attendance was Gabrielle Giroday from the WFP. Good on her for showing up.

    I was rather surprised to discover the majority of the reader-comments on the WFP website in relation to Giroday’s story were negative, and not in-support of a 5.75% raise for WPA members.

    While I’m not a police officer, I certainly have a very clear and candid understanding of the challenges and conditions officers face in the field. I thank the majority who allowed me to get close while working overnights as a crimebeat videographer, and see first-hand the horrific, devastating, chaotic, intense and sometimes (rare) upbeat realities of what goes on out there.

    The public does not have a clear understanding of what goes on out there. They’re not aware of the summer nights when there’s 300+ calls in the queue and “no units available” to respond, or the FORCED overtime officers on the evening (echo) shift must cover into the nighttime (november) shift, when there’s simply too much going on for one shift to handle.

    Members of specialty units like K9, Street Crime, Tactical Support, etc. are sent all over the place. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back and they barely have time for a bathroom break. Guys from K9 (and their backup) often run 3-10km with gear, while chasing/tracking an armed-suspect on foot. In the dark! Do they complain? No.

    Yes, officers are well-aware of what the role of policing entails. They can quit and walk away from the job whenever they want. A majority do not. Why? Because they have what it takes to function under stress and danger. These are the brave men and women we want to police our city; not a bunch of naive granola-munching hippies.

    Pay police what they’re worth. Make the job attractive and show appreciation for those who help us when we need it most.

    I guess it’s safe to say a majority of the criminals in Winnipeg read the Winnipeg Free Press.


  5. Michael Lane says:

    Yes, Menno, because it’s clearly worked well for them so far. Why do you think they’re going through arbritration? The endorsement for Katz has got them nowhere.

    This is a non story. Why don’t you write about the lies the City lawyers are telling and how the police officers are being treated?


  6. Menno Zacharias says:

    In reply to Harry Kuootir

    I have not heard the WPA’s entire position this time around but traditionally the position has been: locally police should get a greater per centage raise than the Fire Department and CUPE employees; Winnipeg officers should be paid more than those in Saskatoon and Regina; Winnipeg police have traditionally been between 2 and 3 per cent behind Edmonton and Calgary and that relative position should either be maintained or the disparity should be decreased.

    In terms of merit; it is in the eye of the beholder and the position can be argued wither way depending on your perspective.

    This synopsis may not completely do justice to the WPA position. Perhaps someone from the Association can comment and express their position in greater detail.


  7. Russ T. Bagg says:

    Seriously McLeod, you’re not a WPS member?

    You know, it’s possible to be critical of the police and their demands for wage increases without being a criminal. It’s a crime that the police are not held to account when year after year we pour more and more money down that bottomless pit and don’t see any appreciable results. No other public sector union could get away with this nonsense. But then again, any criticism of this sacred organization will leave you branded a criminal or sympathizer. Go figure.


  8. cherenkov says:

    @McLeod: “Pay police what they’re worth.”

    And what are they worth? Are they worth what police in Calgary are being paid? Are the police in Calgary getting paid what they’re worth? There is no way to “Pay police what they’re worth” because there is no way to measure what they’re worth. Ditto with teachers, nurses, etc…

    Ultimately you have to pay a wage that will allow you to staff the force in the market in which you reside, and work within the City’s budget restrictions.


  9. Michael Lane says:

    Menno, are you completely against the WPA’s position, or is your issue with the Mayor’s comments?


  10. Michael Lane says:

    @Russ T Bag, it’s also possible to be in favour of the WPA’s demands without being a member. The problems you’re mentioning are a management issue by and large. There is no doubt there is mismanagement but that is not the job for the front line constables who are simply demanding equal pay with their counterparts.

    The Executive (so called managers) of the WPS are not part of the WPA by the way,


  11. McLeod says:

    @Russ T. Bagg: You seem really upset. Why is this? Have you been arrested before? Bad experience with the WPS? Please explain your position.

    Is it OK for Winnipeg Jets’ players to make $1,000,000+ per year? Who do you think works harder? What about surgeons who make $200,000+/year? I have a great appreciation for the work they do, as I’m sure many others do as well. They definitely work harder than a hockey player.

    Is it OK to pay firefighters the high salaries they take home, even though a majority of the time they get to sleep at night? Police and paramedics are on the road their entire shifts.


  12. Rusty Trombone says:

    At the risk of sounding insensitive, why on earth should police get a raise any higher than what other city of Winnipeg unions received in the latest round of contract negotiations? Police officers may do a dangerous job, but so do our military men and women. I think it would be okay to give WPS members exactly the same wage settlement as our other city unions. Police officers earn a very decent wage — peruse the public sector compensation report for the city of Winnipeg.

    Click to access cityofwinnipegcompensationdisclosure.pdf

    Many lowly constables are earning over $100,000 with overtime.

    Hockey players may earn big dollars, but they posses a rare set of skills that are highly sought after by the private market. Last I checked, the only qualifications you needed to join the WPS are a high school diploma, a clean record, and a level of physical fitness. Most police officers do not have the skills to command a high wage in the private sector. So belly up to the public trough!


  13. McLeod says:

    @Rusty Trombone: One cannot compare policing to cleaning bus shelters or raking leaves.

    Before one can even begin to enter the profession of policing, they must undergo an exhaustive background check. It involves the candidate’s finances, opinions from their neighbours, past job history and employer comments, any travel done in recent times, family/friend associations, any remarks on the internal police database detailing prior police contact or dealings and much more. The background investigation spans months and it is quite invasive. Having a clean criminal record, a high school education and a reasonable level of physical fitness is not enough to be considered for policework. Please don’t mock the profession by suggesting any average citizen could land the job. Officers go through a lot of BS to get in the door.

    Hockey players are jocks good for a decade of good gaming, and they’re done. I enjoy watching professional hockey, but I don’t regard the players as being worthy of commanding such large salaries.

    I’m no fanboy of the cops. I’ve had negative encounters with certain officers while coexisting with them in the field. But there are numerous others I’ve met who aren’t so grumpy and don’t carry a chip on their shoulders. Regardless of any good or bad dealings, I put a high value on what they do and are expected to put up with to protect and serve the rest of us. There is a premium associated with that type of expectation and duty.

    Should my tax dollars be required to boost the salaries of officers, I’m completely fine with that. I’d much rather invest in quality policing and the people on the frontlines, than something as pathetic and weak as the CMHR, which serves no purpose whatsoever and will run a deficit for each year it’s in operation. Why didn’t they write a book, instead?

    In addition to better salaries for police officers, I feel we must also invest (at other levels of government) in our judicial system. Build more jails and resources for housing and handling violent and serial offenders. Get them out of our society. They aren’t welcome to live among us. One thing all major crimes seem to have in common is the suspect(s) were/are on probation or undertakings. Why are these animals free? Lock ’em up!

    I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. Differing opinions are what makes the world go ’round. But I do wish the lefties would get real street experience. Reading on the Internet and sitting in on lectures at the U of W (no offence, Menno) doesn’t provide the reality check far-too-many people in this city are in dire need of. Then again, maybe that’s all some people feel they need to be experts.


  14. Rusty Trombone says:

    You sure spend a lot of time on here sticking up for the WPS McLeod!


  15. McLeod says:

    @Rusty Trombone: You’re mistaken. I am standing up for people represented by the WPA. I am not lending any support whatsoever for the administration known as the Winnipeg Police Service.


  16. Harry Kuootir says:

    I think some WPA members must be reading this blog.

    I wonder if the editors of the Free Press are reading here too? See today’s editorial:

    What does everyone think? Is the WPA demanding too much?


  17. Menno Zacharias says:

    Harry: One of the problems with tying pay increases to traditional bench marks such as the salaries in cities like Edmonton and Calgary, or arguing that a pay increase is warranted because the street is more dangerous than in the past is that it is not linked to performance or productivity. It would be nice to see a scenario where a police union was arguing that a pay increase was warranted based on performance eg thanks to our efforts crime has decreased and the streets are now safer for citizens and hence we deserve a pay increase.


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