Unions should be accountable

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This letter is in response to the editorial headlined “War on labour” (Dec. 14), and specifically the recent passing of Bill C-377 in the House of Commons.

Merit Contractors Association supports this bill because we believe the general public has come to expect financial transparency for all entities that benefit from the public trust, whether businesses, governments, charities or unions. In fact, a recent Nanos Research poll found that 83 per cent of Canadians and 86 per cent of unionized workers support union disclosure and accountability.

Unions in Canada benefit enormously from the public trust, through the collection of mandatory dues from workers in unionized workplaces and generous tax breaks on union dues that are worth millions annually.

But transparency is an issue with union leadership.

They feel it will cripple the labour movement.

My question is, simply, how?

There is no change to their funding formula that would threaten to end the mandatory contributions of all workers in unionized workplaces.

There is no end to the generous tax breaks on union contributions.

There are no new directives on how unions can spend money on such efforts to influence elections or promote various social causes.  

In addition, the rhetoric about privacy concerns or compliance costs is a smokescreen as this has not been the case in the U.S. where such requirements have been in place for decades.

If Canadian unions think they will be crippled because of Bill C-377, it is groundless.

Likewise, their funding model is safe; they can continue to support every protest and oppose every business initiative they choose; and they can continue to enjoy their generous tax breaks.

However, they will have to do so in a transparent manner.

If operating in a transparent manner cripples Canada’s labour movement, then union leaders have only themselves to blame for that demise.

Merit Contractors Association is a voice for over 70 per cent of the construction workforce in Newfoundland and Labrador that is open shop.


Paul Dubé

executive director

Merit Contractors Association of

Newfoundland and Labrador

St. John’s

Organizations: House of Commons.Merit Contractors Association, Nanos Research, Merit Contractors Association of Newfoundland and LabradorSt

Geographic location: Canada, U.S., Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Ed power
    December 19, 2012 - 05:28

    Mr Dube, I'm sure that in the interest of full transparency and disclosure, the Merit Contractors Association will be only too happy to open their books so that we can see the source(s) of their income, Income Tax statements, itemized tax breaks, how much they raise, how much they spend on government lobbying efforts and political contributions, and exactly how much is spent on employee compensation, benefits, and training and development. Forgive me, if I won't hold my breathe waiting.

  • a business man
    December 18, 2012 - 16:56

    POLITICALLY INCORRECT - I voted for the conservatives both provincially and federally. I am happy that the right of unions are being taken away slice by slice. You are correct in that eliminating mandatory contributions will hurt the ability of unions to operate, and that is precisely why I support it. And I actually have a shop in Bangladesh. It is one of my most profitable operations.

  • Politically Incorret
    December 18, 2012 - 10:57

    1) My union issues a year-end financial statement and sends it to all their workers. Everyone from the Union president to the shop steward has to be elected by the membership. 2) What unions receive from the government is a pittance compared to the tax breaks, bail-outs and, subsidies to the corporate sector, yet where is their accountability? 3) Unions work for their members; not just in helping them receive decent wages and benefits, but in setting workplace health and safety standards and protecting them from abusive employers. 4) Without mandatory contributions unions would be unable to operate and the right-wing knows this very well. If membership fees should be voluntary would you also suggest that taxes be voluntary too? With no unions there would be no counterweight to the power and influence of big business. The working conditions for which we've fought for the past 150 years would be taken away slice by slice. And the effect would be felt just as keenly by the non-unionized worker who enjoys a standard of living they would never have had had the labour movement not been able to push for safe working conditions, 40-hour work week, the CPP, minimum wages, and other things workers take for granted. Your Alberta-based Association represents and is directed by bosses with no worker input. How many workers are on your Board of Directors and how were you chosen to be the executive director? Have you thought of opening up shop in Bangladesh?

    • david
      December 18, 2012 - 14:05