Harper’s war on workers

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Has anyone else noticed that the Harperites are waging a war on workers?

At the same time, they purport to have always been “about” workers, decent wages and working conditions … since February 2006.

The war, however, is recognized amongst employees that are already organized or those that might wish to organize.

As I’m writing this, I know that many of you will sadly default to the opinion that this is just another unionist lipping off. It might be, and it might not be a bad thing.

It was honoured and heralded when organized workers advanced working conditions, not the least of which is maternity/paternity leave, health and safety protections and a decent living wage.

What we enjoy and improve for ourselves, we want for others. Whether they’re unionized or not.

So, some of you, don’t tune out too quick because I know you quietly agree.

Sadly though, more and more of you are under the Kreskin-like Harperite trance that unions and organized workers are negative to the economy and are an affront to you.

When you wade through the fluffy legislation that the Harperites say will improve your life (some of it great fodder for an infomercial) they are quietly making it hard for organized employees to carry on and for new employees to associate and organize.

Recently, they advanced a bill that thought that the unions weren’t sharing with their members, or making accessibly to anyone, their finances.

Not the case — pure fiction. Yes, we enjoy that union dues are not taxable and you and I would hope that they never are so that we can work for one another to improve our working lot in life (modest infomercial possible!).

But, knowing that it is harder to make union dues taxable, they try to misinform you that as long as they’re not taxable, you should know what they’re spent on.

Again, go ahead and ask your bargaining agent/union and you will not be denied that information.

It’s called a budget, not unlike any government budget, and it’s scrutinized and afforded even more per-capita democracy than any Harperite budget.

Now, they’re advancing a bill that would strike down the Judge Rand Decision of the 1950s, wherein, when an employee enters a unionized workplace, they automatically have dues deducted and can later choose or not to join the union. But, as long as they benefit from the established collective agreement, then they must pay for it like everyone.

Not unreasonable.

These two bills will set workers back and set back localized economies and stem growing economies.

There is more that they are quietly plotting, I believe. Is this where you want public policy focused?

We all have — and they have — bigger fish to fry. Organized workers are not the thuggish stereotype from the past that you might think.

I applaud, yesterday, the organizing efforts of coffee-shop workers in and around Halifax and the resolve, for us all, of the St. John’s airport workers.

Mark Power

National vice-president,

Union of Environment Workers

A component union of the PSAC

Organizations: Union of Environment WorkersA

Geographic location: Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Ed Power
    July 26, 2013 - 19:07

    To Aunt Lizze: "In the age of information, ignorance is a choice". Obviously, you have chosen. Not well, apparently.

  • Aunt Lizzie
    July 26, 2013 - 10:16

    Unions have become the self-serving, bloated, money-sucking, economy-killing, anti-worker behemoths that they accuse corporations of being. They restrict access to good jobs, and suck money out of workers' pockets to enrich millionaire union bosses and fund political activities not supported by the workers. Harper is not engaged in a war against workers, but he may be engaged in a war against union entitlement, and I hope he wins that war. Canada needs to reduce the influence of big unions.

  • Ed Power
    July 24, 2013 - 11:48

    Too bad you didn't read the letter, David, you might have actually learned something. It is the blissful ignorance, or more likely - and far more sadly - the willing ignorance of people like yourself that allows national and transnational corporate interests - and their like-minded political cronies - to succeed in their continuous efforts to drive wages down to Third World levels. Who wouldn't want to work in Worker's 'Paradises' like the US southern states, where unions are discouraged - when not banned - wages are low, benefits non-existent and where Wal Mart workers are provided with "How To" guides from their employer on how to apply for government Food Stamp benefits. The Walton (Wal Mart) family is one of those fabulously wealthy corporate interests that lavishly funds right-wing political groups and politicians dedicated to "taking their country back" - to the good olde days of the early 20th century, before Teddy Roosevelt ended the era of the Robber Barons and FDR's New Deal laid the groundwork for the most socially and industrially productive era in history - and which so generously provides their employees with tips on how to survive on minimum wage. (Hint: Work lots and lots of hours and don't ever get sick.) As George Santayana so eloquently said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Sadly, the labour and civil rights battles our parents and grandparents fought and thought won in the last century were just a temporary respite in a long-running war and, thanks to people like David, will have to be fought once again - this time against a far more politically entrenched and wealthy foe.

  • david
    July 24, 2013 - 09:52

    Skipped to the bottom....Union. Saved myself a long, unimaginative, pointless read.

  • Joe
    July 24, 2013 - 08:12

    Last night I watched an encore presentation of 2012 Rick Mercer and 22 Minutes shows. They both had skits on the meat contamination story of the time and Rick's Rant. But you know I don't remember Canadians getting all upset about the testing of our food. Puts a lie to Russell's premise yesterday that the majority of the population is not stupid. How else would they care so little about the food they eat.

  • Politically Incorrect
    July 24, 2013 - 07:45

    The ease with which the ruling class has pit the rest of us against each other has never failed to amaze and horrify me. This ability to undermine us workers only serves to make our situations more desperate while the bosses continue to enjoy increased wealth and power.