Political Attacks on Labour Continue Unabated

The Federal Government is currently sponsoring a group of anti-union¬†legislation under the guise of Private Member’s Bills.

FIGHT_OF_OUR_LIVES_LOGOC-525 would eliminate ‘card check’ for organizing workplaces under the Canada Labour Code. ‘Card Check’ grants Union Certification if 50%+1 of the prospective Members sign an application. This will allow employers to bribe or intimidate employees during the run-up to a vote.

C-4 would weaken an employee’s right to refuse unsafe work. Only imminent danger would be grounds for refusing work. The Federal Bargaining Agents (Unions) of the National Joint Council sum it up this way:

Bill C-4 undermines the right to collective bargaining, eliminates important human rights protections, and will make every federal workplace less safe for its workers and the Canadians they serve. The Bill was drafted with no consultation with public sector bargaining agents and eliminates labour rights gained over the last fifty years, and severely undermines the ability of federal employees to negotiate on a fair playing field. The Bill gives the federal government’s Treasury Board the unfettered right to determine what constitutes an essential service, which workers are denied the right to strike, and which collective agreements will be decided through arbitration.¬† The Bill also changes arbitration by limiting the independence of arbitration boards. Bill C-4 gives the Minister of Labour the authority to throw out any unsafe work refusal complaint without investigation, leaving employees who refuse unsafe work open to discipline, including dismissal. If the Minister chooses, an investigation can be undertaken in secret. The impact of these changes to health and safety protection will reach far beyond the federal public service to the 1.2 million private and public sector workers covered by the Canada Labour Code.

C-377 would put onerous reporting obligations on Union, where every expenditure greater than $5,000 would have to be reported and made public. Though this information is already available to Union Members, under this Bill, Union would have to undertake the costly and time consuming task of documenting and reporting everything from pension payments to office supply purchases. This Bill was rejected by the Senate for unfairly targeting Unions while leaving corporations untouched but has been reintroduced this session by the Federal Government.

Some provincial politicians dream of emulating the worst of American Labour law.

Right to Work for Less has been a fact of life in some of the poorest US states, such as Alabama and Louisiana since the 1960s. In the last few years, some of the Rust Belt states, such as Michigan and Indiana have introduced the policy. Under Right to Work for Less, employees are not required to join a union or pay dues in a unionized workplace. Further, the Union is obligated to represent the, though they neither belong to the Union nor pay dues. This strengthens the hand of the employer leading to lower wages and benefits state wide. For those who pay dues, payroll check off is illegal and the Union has to collect the dues form each member individually. Total dues are approximately 30% less and the collecting of dues becomes an expensive proposition. Some politician, especially Tom Hudak, leader of the Conservatives in Ontario, have been especially vocal in proposing this vile medicine for Ontario as unscrupulous employers have moved from Ontario to right to work for less states.

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