Toronto Stinks Article Critique

Pages: 6 (1918 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Transportation - Environmental Issues

¶ … Toronto Stinks" (read here) http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/07/22/toronto-stinks/2 / provides a comprehensive yet detailed analysis of how an economic recession/depression has affected an ongoing municipal waste management issue facing the City of Toronto. Dispute over labor contracts and negotiations that fail to reach a compromise to continue services did force a temporary halt in services in 2002. "Back then, garbage bags piled up at illegal dump sites as temperatures soared." (Gillis, Lunau, 2009) the egregious street conditions led to a timely resolution for municipal sanitation workers to re-commence. "That strike didn't last nearly as long as the current stoppage-just 16 days -- and its brevity arguably set the stage for the trench warfare occurring now." (Gillis, Lunau, 2009) the arbitrated resolution occurred to curb negative international media attention to the city, in light of the upcoming papal visit to Toronto by Pope John Paul II. "The result was an arbitrated deal giving the workers three per cent wage hikes in all three years of the contract." (Gillis, Lunau, 2009)

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The constituency agrees with the city officials and council that the city workers must return to work at reasonable wages. "One newspaper poll taken last week found that fully three quarters of respondents supported the city, saying striking staff should accept what they've been offered and go back to work." (Gillis, Lunau, 2009) Residents of Toronto agree with the municipal leadership and support the notion of reducing expenditures and reducing pay raises in a time of fiscal constraint. "Alphonso Malley, a Toronto student "You've got hundreds of people, unemployed, who would do this job for half the price and not complain at all." (Gillis, Lunau, 2009)

Article Critique on Toronto Stinks Assignment

The issue is obvious. Toronto has a municipal sanitation services labor contract and negotiations issue with union representatives. As there is no municipal leadership capable of resisting union demands, this rather unresolved issue has forced illegal dumping in the city by its constituency with remaining trash deposited throughout the Toronto streets. But at the expense of additional concessions to the union, citizens seem to rather live with the refuse and the subsequent odors. "The inconvenience and the stench are signs that the city is tackling a fiscal mess that long predates the recession; I wading through a bit of garbage will set the city on a path toward financial health, they appear willing to do so." (Gillis, Lunau, 2009)

The unsanitary condition of the city has tremendous impact on the health of the constituency and wildlife and the ecological sanctity for future growth and benefit. The "Toronto Stinks" article identifies an abundance of issues in contemporary municipal waste management relations with unions, labor, and the constituency. Revealed is more than the isolated analysis of a microcosm, as this is a global waste disposal issue with potentially major ecological and environmental, and economic and political ramifications.

Evaluation of Environmental Economic Policy

Toronto officials did approve of some measures to mitigate and resolve the garbage removal issues and to, in their eyes, ease the burden on trash collectors. Refuse accumulation has health and ecological, and economic implications, as the need to evaluate current municipal trash collections policy in light of fiscal constraints and union demands became integral to the restoration to sanitary conditions. The city pursued an economic investment in sanitation removal vehicles built with hydraulic lifting arms that do the majority of lifting for the workers. "Worried by escalating compensation and disability claims, the city has invested in a fleet of trucks equipped with hydraulic arms which literally do the heavy lifting for the collectors." (Gillis, Lunau, 2009) These vehicles, used in every major U.S. city, are critical to meeting the sanitation needs of any major metropolis or urban center. Aside from this technology, the labor market for trash removal is rather large for Toronto, with 1,100 sanitation workers employed at an average wage of $25.00 per hour.

Political leadership has much to do with union negotiations and deal making. A weak Democratic leader that is scared of privatized labor is likely to succumb to union pressures and concede to their demands. Therefore, one elected on the premise of protecting the fiscal future of the constituency and preventing an increase in taxes, usually a Democrat, may actually be the best appointment to ensure a strong union in municipal operations. The policy has been to concede to union representatives in labor negotiations and create greater tax liability for the Toronto residents. When contracts are up for negotiation and an agreement is not met, the policy has been for the unionized workers to strike, and not perform the essential duties of their job.

This central issue to Environmental Economic policy poses a problem due to the lack of competition available to Toronto to reduce costs for services. Toronto elected to engage an environmental policy that increased the amount of available trash receptacle sites that temporarily removed trash until service resumed. "So managing waste has become a priority. The city upped its number of temporary drop-off sites from 12 to 21, which has helped prevent the unsightly piles caused by illegal dumping." (Ginnis, Lunau, 2009) the new drop-off sites were sanitized with pesticides and stench control measures while health officials monitor for the presence of pest or parasitic infestation. It is well understood that unsanitary street conditions can cause disease and a potential mini-plague if left unabated. "Back in the 1840s in Great Britain, the Chadwick Commission issued a report showing the relationship between a bad environment and disease." (Miller, Garbage & Health, 2003)

The lack of a comprehensive health policy in this area is the fault of either Toronto or the province, as the Department of Health needs to have the authority to enforce this area of health code regulation. In the U.S. The following outlines a chain of command to municipal waste issues that have an impact to environmental economics.

"The open dumps that were used for solid waste disposal in California until the 1950s, often had severe problems of localized odors, vermin such as rodents and seagulls, potential disease vectors such as flies and rodents; they were also known to cause groundwater pollution in the vicinity of the dump. Beginning in the 1950s the U.S. Public Health Service and a number of states including California began to manage municipal solid waste (which often included industrial waste, both what is now called "hazardous" and "non-hazardous" waste) in what became known as "sanitary landfills." (Lee, Jones-Lee, 1994)

Policy Recommendations

A comprehensive chain of command that implements a strategy-based solution as exemplified above ought to be in the planning agenda for the Toronto Mayor/Council leadership team. Additionally, the city must look at privatizing their municipal operations by allowing contractors to competitively bid on projects or contracts. Such an example is the execution of a Request for Proposal or (RFP) that outlines what the municipality is seeking. In this case, municipal sanitation services to be performed over (x) years would be described in detail with instructions for contractors to submit a sealed bid that outlines a project proposal and estimated cost. The lowest bid will win the contract to supply sanitation services to Toronto for (x) years with the option to rebid on the project upon expiration of the contract.

This enables the lowest price in an oligarchic market and passes the cost savings onto the taxpayer. "Winnipeg, for one, saved an estimated $5.7 million annually after making the move in 2006; Gatineau, Quebec, and Barrie, Ontario count among the cities that, like Toronto, do composting and recycling yet spend far less per dwelling on waste removal because they outsource some of the collection." (Gillis, Lunau, 2009) the outsourcing of its landfill capacity may also offer a solution. Toronto can elect to buy land in a remote area in a northern Canadian Province, Manitoba for example, and store untreated excess waste there. The more appropriate solution is to reduce the cost of labor by replacing the technical nature of the position with technology improvements, such as better machines with more capabilities and operator-friendly controls. The more mechanized and less risk involved with the position, the lower the associated wage. Bringing the wage down and limiting the legacy benefits will free up the revenue stream once crippled due to costs attributed to municipal waste management. Proper city management involves a mix of efficiency for effectiveness. If you can achieve maximum efficiency and not sacrifice any effectiveness in the process, hence achieving maximum efficiency and effectiveness, then that is the ideal solution to implement to resolve this problem.

Another method is to create a committee with members from each side, representing management and labor, with the intention of representing their members and working toward a solution to be proposed at negotiations and voted. Committee's have a history of success because members from each side get the opportunity to convene multiple times and get the opportunity to repeatedly voice their opinion, relay information to their members, and return to negotiations. This method does create more trust between management and labor as an in-house resolution… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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