Solidarity is a dead horse

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kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture
Solidarity is a dead horse

Just when one thought the union movement could not make itself any less relevant you get stories like this.

Quote:

The BC Nurses Union plans to lock out its administrative employees this Friday in order to force them into accepting a contract that attacks their sick and medical appointment leave.

The BCNU has demanded concessions and refused to negotiate a fair collective agreement with its employees, who are MoveUP members,” said MoveUP President David Black. “This is an employer that represents health care workers and they are trying to claw back their own employees’ access to medical appointments.”

The BCNU is attempting to force a final contract offer on MoveUP members that would slash sick leave, medical appointment leave and family responsibility leave and doesn’t address many of the employees’ key demands for a fair and reasonable collective agreement. The parties remain at odds on a range of issues, from wages to an improved grievance handling process.

http://moveuptogether.ca/bc-nurses-union-locking-out-employees-slashing-...

 

mark_alfred

I dunno.  Strikes or lockouts happen sometimes in contract negotiations, regardless of who the employer and the employees are.  The fact that the employer in this case is the BC Nurses Union doesn't change that.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Yup. Let 'em bargain.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

That the BcNU would sink this low doesn't surprise me in the least.

The BCNU has a history of raiding other unions, and a friend who works as a emergency nurse at Surrey Memorial Hospital is of the opinion that the BCNU leadership fancies the BCNU more as a professional organization rather than an actual union.

lagatta

There was also a labour dispute at the CSN when I was working there (on contract; I was never a permanent employee). And the CSN was definitely a union, and a relatively leftist one at the time. There are also labour disputes at community associations.

Unionist

Gee, folks, attacking the BCNU as being anti-labour? Because they have a disagreement with their administrative employees about (not even sure what it is) paying them while they accompany family members on medical appointments? Or does BCNU want to actually force them to stay on the job and let their kids and parents fend for themselves? Need more detail, please.

And they want to "slash" their sick leave? How much do they have now, what's being offered, any tradeoffs?

And they're disagreed on wages, grievance handling, a host of other issues?

And attacking the BCNU for "raiding"? Really? Upsetting the comfy apple cart of some union leaders who are scared stiff of what would happen if their members actually had, like, a choice?

[TRANSLATION: "Raiding" is when workers vote to get rid of their existing union and join another. Another name for it would be "democracy". When I and the vast majority of my fellow members voted to dump our ancient "international" union for a home-grown one, it felt more like liberation.]

And we're supposed to take sides in this dispute because... the BCNU is an "employer", and we oppose employers?

Non, merci.

I support both sides and wish them well in finding a meeting of the minds. We have common enemies that need our attention.

 

6079_Smith_W

Ten years ago SaskPower workers signed an agreement to lobby for nuclear power development. Does that mean everything else they do - from collective bargaining to advocating for safety and public ownership - is a sham?

You'd think it would be obviously, especially in a joint like this, that having disagreements over some issues does not make one the enemy.

On the other hand, maybe it isn't so obvious.

 

Unionist

lagatta wrote:

There was also a labour dispute at the CSN when I was working there (on contract; I was never a permanent employee). And the CSN was definitely a union, and a relatively leftist one at the time. There are also labour disputes at community associations.

Exactly. And I'm hopeful that neither "side" issued press releases condemning the other "side" as being "anti-labour".

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The BCNU has locked out its staff instead of bargaining with them.  They are just like any other business that has no respect for its workers or their union. Good employers don't lock out they bargain until an agreement is signed. [sarcasm alert] But then in these times of austerity all workers should know that the benefits they currently have in collective agreements are going to be attacked unrelentingly because employers just can't afford the frills. And after all unions are merely businesses like other businesses so why should they act better towards their employees than a regular business. Its not like they believe in the outdated concept of solidarity.

Quote:

MoveUP says the BCNU locked out the employees on Friday morning because it wants to slash their sick, medical appointment and family responsibility leave.

"I think it's a little much that a union that tries to portray itself as advocates for health care in Canada is turning around and attacking the very health benefits of the staff that work for them," said MoveUP president David Black.

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-nurses-union-tentative...

Unionist

Kropotkin. You know I love you, and that we are allies. But you're talking to a life-long trade unionist here. I've been locked out, I've been on strike. It's part of what we call "free collective bargaining". Some day, some fascist shit will run for office and say, "If elected, I will ban lockouts! So you stupid jerk workers, vote for me!!!"

So to return to our subject, I suggest that you read more carefully. And I'm not talking about the MSM.

The administrative staff are not locked out.

They are on strike.

From your initial link above:

Quote:

UPDATE - July 22, 2016

At 10 am on July 22, 2016, the BC Nurses' Union ordered MoveUP’s members to return to work under the employer’s unilateral conditions. 

The employer's contract includes all the cuts that would slash sick leave, medical appointment leave and family responsibility leave. It also doesn’t address many of the employees’ key demands for a fair and reasonable collective agreement, from wages to an improved grievance handling process.

To avoid being forced back to work under an untenable collective agreement, MoveUP’s members voted to take strike action and they are now on strike.

So let's all take a breath and offer both "sides" our best wishes for an amicable and speedy settlement.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

They served the union lockout notice and under BC labour law said they could only return to work if they accepted the new contract terms. You can spin it anyway you want Unionist that is a lockout not a strike.  I have also been a lifelong union activist and frankly I am tired of the Canadian union leadership that doesn't have a fucking clue what the term solidarity means and why without that solidarity the union movement has been in a constant decline for three decades. It is a dead horse and the union movement in this country is a dead person walking because they haven't got a clue which side they are on.

NorthReport

Unionist,

Maybe you are not familiar with the labour movement in BC

The BCTU is the piranha of the labour movement here.

 

Unionist

NorthReport wrote:

Unionist,

Maybe you are not familiar with the labour movement in BC

The BCTU is the piranha of the labour movement here.

You mean the BCNU. And no, I confess I know little about the fine points of the BC movement.

All I know is that when we got rid of our international craft union for a Canadian industrial union, the same cries of "RAID" were the only defence the international leadership could muster.

Does the BCNU fight tooth and nail for BC nurses? That's my first question - I don't know the answer, tell me.

As for "taking over" others, I believe that comes down to workers voting. No one, whether under BC law or other jurisdictions, is forced to stay in a union that the majority can't stand.

Unionist

kropotkin1951 wrote:

They served the union lockout notice and under BC labour law said they could only return to work if they accepted the new contract terms. You can spin it anyway you want Unionist that is a lockout not a strike.

I'm not spinning it. I'm quoting the union. Please explain to me why the union is calling it a "strike". Do they have some reason to "spin" it?

Until I read the union's own words, I actually believed they had been locked out. My bad. I should always do my research first. And that doesn't mean reading the CBC's spin.

Someone is mistaken here, and it can't be me, because I'm just reading and copying and pasting from your link.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

It is a moving target. The CBC as always in this province has shitty coverage because it seems out of all its unionized staff not a single one actually understands the nuances in a labour dispute.

The BCNU locked out and rather than go back to work MoveUp went out on strike. So you tell me which is the chicken and which is the egg.

Quote:

The BCNU locked out employees — members of the union Moveup — on Friday morning. The union claims that the BCNU wants to slash the employees' sick, medical appointment and family responsibility leave.

That lockout ended at 10 a.m., Friday when Moveup members voted to strike outside the union's Burnaby office

NorthReport

BCNU right.

There are enough non-unionized workers out there for organizing drives. A perfect way for solidarity to be destroyed is for unions to be raiding other unions.

krop knows what he is talking about.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The raid they are talking about was a raid of LPN's that belonged to the HEU mostly. It was a long and nasty raid and the other unions accused the BCNU of lying and disseminating false information and the bitter taste of it is still with many who are active in health care unions. The BCNU were kicked out of the BC Fed and CLC after that raid.

Raids are always a very divisive event. I grew up in Sudbury during the Steelworker's raid on Mine Mill. In that case it left friendships in tatters and saw brothers not talk to each other for years. My father was a volunteer organizer for the Steelworkers and one of my memories is a rock being thrown through our living room window. In my experience raid campaigns bring out the worst in both sides and only destroy worker solidarity.

I agree that union members have and should have the right to be represented by the union of their choice it is the process that is flawed.

Unionist

kropotkin1951 wrote:

The raid they are talking about was a raid of LPN's that belonged to the HEU mostly. It was a long and nasty raid and the other unions accused the BCNU of lying and disseminating false information and the bitter taste of it is still with many who are active in health care unions. The BCNU were kicked out of the BC Fed and CLC after that raid.

Tell me how the LPNs feel about it. Were they happy and empowered in their previous union? Are they being held hostage in their new union? That's the only part I really care about. The rest is squabbles between bigwigs who think they own workers. And I'd include the BCNU in that description, even without knowing anything about them, pending proof to the contrary.

Quote:
Raids are always a very divisive event. I grew up in Sudbury during the Steelworker's raid on Mine Mill. In that case it left friendships in tatters and saw brothers not talk to each other for years. My father was a volunteer organizer for the Steelworkers and one of my memories is a rock being thrown through our living room window. In my experience raid campaigns bring out the worst in both sides and only destroy worker solidarity.

When I and local leaders across the country banded together to get rid of our international, it was divisive. Momentarily. Then we won, and if anyone suggested today going back to the international, yeah, a rock through the window might result. Federal election campaigns are also divisive. But we don't call an opposition party's attempt to form government a "RAID". Agree with me, please, that it's a loaded term used to preserve the hegemony of those who don't trust workers to voluntarily give them loyalty.

Quote:
I agree that union members have and should have the right to be represented by the union of their choice it is the process that is flawed.

I agree also. The process sucks. Unions and their "leaders" who get lazy should know that one false step and their asses will be toast. Unfortunately, it's very difficult for rank and file activists to organize, network, and fight the establishment. Labour codes don't make it easy either. Election rules for political parties, funding limits, etc. etc. are far more advanced in that regard.

Please don't use the word "RAID". Unless you can provide evidence of sieges, weapons, hostage-taking, etc. 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Well brother while I agree that language as we use it often sucks the common usage of raid in the labour context does not mean a siege except maybe metaphorically. I happened to know many LPN's that were involved in trying to stop the BCNU action. The majority voted for the BCNU during the second attempt at rolling the LPN's into the nurses union. Many people here in health care wonder about the move since the BCNU has actively opposed the use of LPN's and has always said to employers they should hire "real" nurses not LPN's.  This was a top down action that took five years and cost the various unions tens of thousands of their members dues money if not hundreds of thousands. 

BUt back to the lockout/strike issues. The BCNU wants to strip the female dominated support staff of their leave clauses because it allows them the flexibility to take care of family emergencies as well as taking sick leave. The BCNU also wants to restrict their staff to the same raise increases that they negotiated with the government in 2013. While that sounds reasonable one needs to understand that in 2013 the BCNU went to the bargaining table with one main demand and that was a change to the bargaining structure for health care workers in the province. Their new system was opposed by every other union in health care. The right wing anti-union government gave them what they wanted and the BCNU took a mediocre wage increase. They signed the agreement days before the start of the election campaign and then stood shoulder to shoulder with the BC Liberals to defeat the BC NDP.

The other interesting thing about the dispute is that David Black who speaks for MoveUP is Dawn Black's son and has held a multitude of positions on the executive of the BC NDP. So this is personal political and nasty.  Like I said in the title solidarity is a dead horse. We have workers fighting workers with the people who are trying to roll back benefits having helped elect a right wing anti-worker government.

Unionist

kropotkin1951 wrote:
The right wing anti-union government gave them what they wanted and the BCNU took a mediocre wage increase.

Ok, I'm not knowledgeable here.

Are you saying the BCNU accepted a lower wage increase than the other health care unions? How much, in which years? I assume you have that info, given your statement.

Just looking for the hard facts. I'm not suggesting any conclusion can be drawn one way or the other.

And the BCNU supports the Liberals, while the other uinons support the NDP? Ask me if I care which band of political sell-outs and traitors any union "supports". A union which doesn't play one party against the others for the benefit of its members, and the working class as a whole, is as appealing to me as the rah rah rah rah cheerleaders on this discussion board - of which you are not one. So I don't care about any of that.

The BCNU and its staff should find a way to reach an amicable settlement. I consider it very counter-productive for outsiders to take sides in matters of this nature.

mark_alfred

I know nothing about the BCNU or about MoveUP.  And I stand by my statement of post #1.  That said, I recall in Ontario after the first Ontario Public Service strike against the Ontario PC government (Harris) by OPSEU, that OPSEU ended up locking out their staff (the staff union being OPSSU).  I was a member of OPSEU at the time, and I was furious with the Board for doing this (I was never on strike -- I was part of the Broader Public Service rather than the OPS, but I was still sympathetic.)  I phoned up a member of the board, one Barry Weisleder, to express my dismay.  He responded by saying that OPSEU should not rely upon a hierarchical structure and instead "we the members" ourselves should take power in a true collective sense.  I stated that that was essentially the same argument right-wingers use to justify service cuts in the public sector -- that "we the people" (aka the private sector) should be empowered by cutting the public service -- IE, I felt he was giving me a leftified version of an argument that libertarians often give for cutting or demeaning public services.  He gave me a bunch of gibberish that I felt was him subtly saying he felt I was a capitalist pig-fuck. 

Anyway, the staff had worked hard during the strike, and they had done very good work with us in our local as well.  The lock out was a reactionary move by a union that suddenly, after its first major OPS strike, found itself in financial difficulties (to be expected after such a huge strike).  It was the action of an employer (that being OPSEU) that was stupid and inexperienced in its new found position of financial vulnerability (previously the OPS were restricted to binding arbitration, so the strike and the need to have a huge strike fund in place were a new strain on the union).  Anyway, it showed me that left wing employers (including self-described socialists) can be as self-justifyingly ruthless as right-wing employers.

Unionist

mark_alfred wrote:

I know nothing about the BCNU or about MoveUP.  And I stand by my statement of post #1.

I agree.

Quote:
Anyway, it showed me that left wing employers (including self-described socialists) can be as self-justifyingly ruthless as right-wing employers.

I agree.

But to repeat - I have no knowledge of BCNU or MoveUP. I agree with you based on other specific experiences of mine.

SeekingAPolitic...

Here is why a dim view of raiding.  I listened to union member talk to another official (of a union that will not  be mentioned)  their beef with that they considered a paper union.  Just union that far  less services and less militant, would make a company union?  These are union members already, would be if smart to fight over have carcass rather hunt down your food.  I can see these gentlemen being unhappy if they were trying to unionize the employer and employer went with least of bad situation(from the capitalist point of view) went with less militant union.  Yes the militant union tried to unionize and the company allowed different union in block more militant union.  The conversation indicated that was not case.  Why not try expand the union rather fight with another union. Trying unionize service occupations and small to medium business is very hard, even its failure it has to be tried and tried.  I agree my experience with raiding was superical but left with feeling this truly contraproducvtive in grand scheme of things.

Unionist

[url=http://www.benefitscanada.com/news/b-c-nurses-union-staff-strike-over-si.... Nurses’ Union staff strike over sick day benefits[/url]

Quote:

About 70 administrative employees at the B.C. Nurses’ Union went on strike Friday after their employer locked them out for an hour.

While there are disagreements about wages and post-retirement benefits, the main dispute between the two groups centers on how employees use their sick day benefits, according to both parties.

“Members want to use their sick time to take medical appointments and they want to remove that right entirely,” says David Black, president of MoveUP, the union that represents a portion of the nurses’ union’s staff members.

Currently, union staff are entitled to two sick days per month, says Gary Fane, executive director of the B.C. Nurses’ Union. Staff can accumulate sick days throughout the year and, theoretically, can take 24 days off in December.

But, says Fane, chronic absenteeism and what he perceives as an abuse of the benefit has been a long-standing issue within the organization.

“Every day, four to five employees are absent. . . . They use the time for appointments, sick time, family leave,” he says. “That’s quite excessive and we want to remedy that by having sick time be limited to 15 days and out of [those days], they can use three for appointments.”

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The leadership of the BCNU is now in a fight with its Business Agents. Methinks they are out to lunch. Applying for essential service designation for their BA's is the height of absurdity and clearly a legal maneuver designed by people who do not believe in fair bargaining. It appears that if their staff will not agree to concessions they will use every dirty anti-union legal trick they can think of.

Quote:

In its LRB submission BCNU’s leadership claims that Unifor didn’t discuss wages and the duration of a new collective agreement during the bargaining process, which was long and fruitless. They also accuse the staff union of bargaining in bad faith.

“BCNU’s claim that Unifor didn’t discuss wages or the contract duration is untrue,” says Unifor National Representative Mario Santos. “We clearly discussed pattern wages and a three-year contract with BCNU negotiators. Unifor Canada has a well-know policy that we don’t sign lengthy contracts unless there are unusual circumstances, and BCNU negotiators are fully aware of that policy.”

The current round of Unifor/BCNU bargaining started in early 2016 and made very little progress before BCNU leaders locked out staff on July 22, 2016, and used anti-union tactics to provoke a strike.

BCNU leaders have also informed Unifor Canada that they plan to apply to the LRB to declare Unifor-represented staff an essential service. The BC labour code clearly defines essential service professionals and Unifor-represented BCNU staff does not meet the criteria.

http://www.unifor888.org/2016/07/29/unifor-serves-strike-notice-to-bcnu-...

 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

I wish this thread had a different title.  As it stands, it looks like you're saying that it's pointless to demonstrate solidarity.  Could it be changed to something like "When Unions Act Like Unionbusters" or something like that?

If the mods did that, Kropotkin, I think it would better serve the point you're trying to make here.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Ken Burch wrote:

I wish this thread had a different title.  As it stands, it looks like you're saying that it's pointless to demonstrate solidarity.  Could it be changed to something like "When Unions Act Like Unionbusters" or something like that?

If the mods did that, Kropotkin, I think it would better serve the point you're trying to make here.

I am saying that solidarity in the trade union movement is dead. It is not pointless it is non-existent. Unions get locked out for months because they will not take concessions and the rest of the "movement" spouts platitudes.  It is the reason why the unionized workforce in this country has been shrinking for three decades. No union supports other unions who are under attack except with platitudes and now we get a "union" that acts like the worst kind of anti-union employers. When unions start acting like this it becomes a dead horse. 

I take no plesure in the observation. When Vale-Inco forced the proud workers in Sudbury to take a two tier contract I nearly cired. I remember the strikes in the '60's that brought in pension plans and benefits. I remember the train cars with salmon from the West Coast sent by the fishermen to support their union brothers who were fighting an epic battle. You can't eat platitudes.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

A sizable contingent of MoveUP clerical workers at the BCNU marched in the Vancouver Pride Parade yesterday as part of the BC Fed contingent. I forget if their signs said that they were "locked out" or "on strike".

Unionist

Left Turn wrote:

A sizable contingent of MoveUP clerical workers at the BCNU marched in the Vancouver Pride Parade yesterday as part of the BC Fed contingent. I forget if their signs said that they were "locked out" or "on strike".

I think everyone so far is agreed that they were locked out for one hour, and then went on legal strike where they have been ever since. I don't believe they could possibly have carried signs saying "locked out". Their own web site says they're on strike:

[url=http://moveuptogether.ca/real-facts-strike-bcnu-2]The Real Facts on the Strike at the BCNU #2[/url]

Both sides should be left alone to find a compromise. They will. This dramatic thread is just that.

And I'm encouraged by this statement by MoveUp:

Quote:

4) This is between the BCNU leadership and us.

MoveUP members want a fair collective agreement and MoveUP is working to make sure we get it. This isn’t about other unions.  It’s our dispute.

Sounds like that's directed toward some unions who are trying to make a "point" of some kind, using this dispute as their "fer de lance". 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

This is just another symptom of the rot in the trade union movement. We know which side he is on and it sure as hell isn't ours.

 

"Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be one of our keynotes at Unifor's 2nd convention!"

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The BCNU is doing to its workers exactly what it did to the HEU when it raided the LPN's. They are lying through ther teeth to achieve their ends. 

I want unions to be better but they are often not.  A little background info about my personal biases. My wife was a BA for HEU during the raid and I heard all about the lies and disinformation the BCNU was spreading. I bargained with MoveUp as a representative of a union and found them to be hard to deal with but nothing compared to dealing with the anti-union employers that I used to bargain with. 

The idea that a union is seeking concessions on family responsibility leave from their female dominated staff is still disgusting no matter how you shake it. Adding in disinformation and lies just makes it worse.  

Quote:

BCNU leaders are spreading misleading information when it comes to medical and family responsibility leave.  Here are the real facts: 

Absence from work at the BCNU (combined sick (including W.I.), medical appointment, and family responsibility) is extraordinarily average.

-          Average annual absence at BCNU: 13.1 days per employee [1]

-          Average annual absence at unionized Canadian workplaces: 13.2 days per employee [2]

http://bcnuwalkthetalk.com/node/19