The union representing the city’s garbage collectors denied Tuesday it was encouraging members to attend a city councillor’s town hall meeting incognito.
Members of CUPE Local 416 — the Toronto Civic Employees Union — were sent a mass e-mail Tuesday from the union begging them to attend Councillor Josh Matlow’s Tuesday night town hall over contracting out trash collection.
“We would appreciate your attendance as a ‘resident’ representing yourself rather than the union or as a city employee,” states the e-mail obtained by the Toronto Sun.
Matlow was shocked by the e-mail.
While he said every resident, even those who live outside his ward or work for the city, are invited to attend the meeting, they shouldn’t be hiding their identities.
“No one should be pretending to be somebody else when arguing a point,” Matlow said. “It’s not helpful to me and frankly it misinforms all the other residents who came out to learn about the issue in good faith.”
The St. Paul’s councillor is one of council’s political middle being targeted by the union in a bid to derail the deal but Matlow said the push to stock the audience doesn’t help.
“It certainly makes a reasonable person wonder that if they don’t feel confident with the position they hold and the arguments they are going to make,” he said. “Why they think that they need to pretend to be average residents I find just bizarre behaviour.
“I think one should pose an argument not pose as a resident.”
Union spokesman Wendy Forbes denied the e-mail was encouraging members to disguise themselves.
Forbes said the message was asking union members who live in the ward to attend but asked them not to represent the union.
Asked why the subject line of the e-mail was “WE NEED YOUR ATTENDANCE,” Forbes said they were encouraging residents to be at the meeting, not stacking the meeting.
“You don’t want (the meeting) to be a flop,” Forbes said.
Public Works chairman Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong — who was scheduled to argue in favour of contracting out more trash collection at Tuesday’s meeting — called the e-mail “inappropriate.”
“I think it is inappropriate for the union to send out an e-mail that encourages members to disguise their identity,” Minnan-Wong said. “I think that does a disservice to the community and the residents. At some level it shows the length that 416 is trying to distort the debate.”
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