Just one more attack on workers

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Last week, on Thursday, June 5, PCs and Liberals voted in the House of Assembly to do away with a section of the Labour Relations Act that automatically certifies a union if 65 per cent of employees sign union cards.

We now go back to the old procedure where, even if all the workers sign cards, a so-called secret ballot will be held in the workplace.

NDP MHAs loudly opposed Bill 22.

Employer groups lobbied hard for the change. Government met and consulted with them but did not make so much as a courtesy phone call to unions.

Workers apparently no longer have the same right to be heard by this government as employers do.

 Card-based certification was the norm for many years in this province (and in the rest of Canada), until 1994 when the Clyde Wells Liberal government removed it.

It was reinstated in 2012 as part of a modernization of labour laws led by

a committee of employers, unions and government representatives.

Government at the time said it was a more balanced and democratic approach that would help maintain positive labour relations.

It worked well for two years — a third of applications were automatically approved because 65 per cent of workers had signed cards, and there was no evidence of irregularities.

But all that was forgotten as government rushed to do the bidding of anti-union employers, who want to put up more barriers to unionization and whose attitudes towards their employees are reminiscent of old-time Water Street merchants.

 The Tories and the Liberals now say it’s more democratic to have a vote in the workplace instead of card-based certification.

But what may happen after workers sign union cards can be anything but democratic.

The law requires five working days between the date an application is filed and the date a vote is held.

It is an irresistible opportunity for some employers to try and convince workers not to vote for a union.

Studies have found that employers regularly use intimidation, bribes and threats of job loss or business closure to stop unionization, even though some of these tactics are illegal.

In addition, any worker who does not cast a ballot is counted as a “no” vote, no matter what the reasons for not voting: sickness, vacation, on a two-week “off” shift, etc.

Getting rid of card-based certification is the latest attack on working people in this province.

Government is bowing to pressure from employers to maintain a low minimum wage, reduce pension benefits and in any way possible divert the benefits of economic prosperity into their own coffers and away from the employees whose work makes the boom a reality.

The NDP will continue to oppose this trend, as it did in opposing Bill 22.

 

Lorraine Michael,

Newfoundland and Labrador NDP leader

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador NDP

Geographic location: Canada, Water Street

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Recent comments

  • Randy
    June 11, 2014 - 11:33

    Hope the secret ballot is not like the one that helped keep Lorraine Michaels on her soapbox. According to former NDP member Tony Adey, as reported in the Western Star, more people voted than were officially at the convention? NDP - No Democracy Party

    • Bill
      June 11, 2014 - 13:31

      By the time the vote on the NDP leadership review was announced and debate finished there were 6 delegates who re-entered the hall. They were legitimate delegates who had the right to vote. I know because I was there. Tony Adey is just a disgruntled twerp, who is crying foul because he didn't get his way. Give me a break.

  • Bob
    June 11, 2014 - 09:20

    I just got to laugh at Carl Marks, everybody works for everybody. Just because your self employed, you work harder then the employee, because you got to find the work to keep yourself going, and make sure your employee make a living also.

    • Marie
      June 11, 2014 - 11:04

      Bob, we are all laughing! Karl Marks does not want to discuss the main point of Michaels letter" the so-called secret vote "SHE IS AGAINST! God forbid the NDP should support employees voting by secret ballot in front of management and union reps! Lol

    • Carl Marks
      June 11, 2014 - 11:40

      Marie, I was merely addressing your questionable -- okay, ridiculous -- assertion that 'Lorraine says I am not a worker because I don't belong to a union.' You can't belong to a union becaus you're self-employed. It's that SIMPLE! As for Bob... well, his 'logic' is a law unto itself.

  • Jack
    June 11, 2014 - 07:11

    These are parties of the employers. As we have seen in the United States, the attack on workers starts with those in unions, and is continued on to those without unions until everyone ends up on the bottom.

  • Marie
    June 11, 2014 - 06:50

    "Getting rid of card-based certification is the latest attack on WORKING people in this province." !!! NICE TRY, LORRAINE! Are you suggesting I'm not "working" or a member of the " working class" because I am not a member of a Union? Exactly who are the working class members you refer to? I am self employed, with out employees, and not a union member or likely to become one! I work 50 hrs a week and have done for for 19 yrs!! I guess by working class you refer to all Govt Workers and Heath Care workers who together form the majority of your kind of workers in this province! Not having a secret ballot is insulting to the democratic process!

    • Carl Marks
      June 11, 2014 - 07:16

      Marie, if you are self-employed, by definition, you are not a member of the working class. "Working class" means that you work for an employer and for a salary.

    • Marie
      June 11, 2014 - 07:39

      Hey Mr. Marks , suggest you check with your partner Engels! The working class (also labouring class, proletariat, or laboring class) is the class of people employed for wages, especially in manual or industrial work.[1] Working class jobs include blue-collar jobs, but also include large amounts of white collar and service work. The working class relies on earnings from wage labour, thereby including a large majority of the population in industrialized economies, of the urban areas of non-industrialized economies, and also a significant number of the rural workforce worldwide.I AM A WAGE EARNER WHO ON AVERAGE HAS 6 different employers a day!!!

    • Carl Marks
      June 11, 2014 - 09:31

      I'm not getting your point. While your situation may be similar, the fact that you choose to sell your labour as a private contracted worker, you are not in a position to organize. So how is that Lorraine's fault or the union's fault? Why are you so upset that people in workplaces do have that right, albeit more diminished because of this legislation that opens workers up to employer intimidation? As Jack pointed out, if the value of their labour goes down, so does the value of yours. If you don`t like your situation don`t blame other workers who do stand up for themselves.

    • Donna
      June 11, 2014 - 10:52

      @ Marie. How is your definition different from Carl's, except for the fact that it was cut and pasted from Wikipedia?

  • Morris
    June 11, 2014 - 06:30

    Lorraine, Imagine if your membership declared their support for your party and for your leadership and then at a convention WERE DENIED THE RIGHT TO A SECRET BALLOD! Lorraine, just imagine , and please try hard , that if that was the case , you would no doubt Have 100% support, not 65%. A POLITICAL PARTY OBJECTING TO A SECRET BALLOT,, what next, NO LEADERSHIP CONVENTION, just a performance review!

  • Charles Murphy
    June 11, 2014 - 05:21

    Ms Michael, No disrespect, But you really don't understand what's taking place or unfolding in our province? You should back up a little. Take notice what's really going on here at home. First question you should be asking, where is all this money coming from, I could be wrong, I remember on a couple difference occasion, NDP's and the Liberals were complaining that spending was way out of control with the PC's. Now we have you along with them, planning on spending like drunken sailor's. By any chance are you asking the working poor to foot this bill?