Hudak proposes sweeping changes to strip unions of power

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jerrym
Hudak proposes sweeping changes to strip unions of power

PC leader Tim Hudak has proposed legal changes that would make Ontario the equivalent of the worst right-to-work states of the US.

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1217880--tim-hudak-u...

Many of the regulations he would like to scrap were enacted or bolstered by previous Conservative governments. Still, Hudak complained the situation has become untenable. “In many cases union leaders have become so powerful that many employees in effect have two bosses — their actual employer and the people who run their union.” To correct that, he would like union membership to no longer be mandatory and would outlaw the “forced paycheque contributions” unionized workers make to political causes. A PC government would also end the closed tendering for government contracts and curb “the artificial restriction on the number of our youth able to enter the skilled trades” through apprenticeship changes.In their plan, the Tories also urge secret ballots in all union certification votes and allow private companies to compete with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to provide coverage. ... In their plan, the Tories also urge secret ballots in all union certification votes and allow private companies to compete with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to provide coverage.

 

 

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Hudak’s proposal would undo years of gains for Ontario workers and do little to generate employment. “It’s a mass gutting of labour laws in Ontario. It’s certainly not something I hear is necessary,” she said,

 

Regions: 
Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

What a prick. He was on P&P and it was all I could do not to throw my shoes through the tube. Greedy little bastard.

autoworker autoworker's picture

Could Hudak invoke the Notwithstanding Clause to override the Rand Formula?

Mr.Tea

I'm just curious about one thing (never having been in a union or involved in that movement): What is the problem with holding secret ballots in certification votes? That seems like common sense to me (but again, don't know much about the issue). If anyone has a clarification, that'd be appreciated. Thanks

Unionist

Get lost, Mr.Tea.

 

Mr.Tea

What the fuck is your problem? I asked a legitimate question about something I'd like to know from people who may be able to explain it.

genstrike

The problem with secret ballot certification votes is that it makes it a lot harder to organize unions, as employers can (and regularly do; union-busting is a big and lucrative industry) pull all kinds of ditry tricks between the time that the cards are signed and when the vote takes place.  It tips the scales heavily in favour of the employer.

Mr.Tea

Thanks for thhe explanation, genstrike.

jerrym

Hudak's proposals have implications for all of Canada because other Cons will be watching to see if he can win with such an upfront attack on unions. If he wins, other Cons and some right-wing Libs will imitate him. If he loses, they will probably still do it but keep quiet about it until elected, just like Governor Walker in Wisconsin. The union movement (both public and private) and progressives across Canada need to actively fight this because its likely coming to a province (or territory) near you soon. If Hudak succeeds, one of the few voices left for a decent standard of living for the middle, working and poor classes will be greatly weakened.

janfromthebruce

And I noticed that the greatest focus is on public sector unions - essentially in Canada Harper Inc. shut down private sector unions' strikes for the (cough) economy. And public sector they suggest is the problem with why costs are so high.

jerrym

In Hudak's Power and Politics interview his examples of the alleged problems caused by unions focused entirely on the manufacturing sector. That is, firms (such as Caterpillar, etc.) are moving not only to Third World countries or China, but also to the US because of right-to-work states. So he has private, as well as public sector unions, in his gun sights.

Unionist

Jim Stanford provides some talking points and appeals for more ammunition:

[url=http://www.progressive-economics.ca/2012/06/28/u-s-right-to-work-thinkin.... right-to-work thinking now infecting Canada[/url]

Quote:
It’s clear we’re going to have to gear up our arguments on right-to-work laws, dues check-off, the Rand Formula, etc.

Fidel

Jim Stanford wrote:
"Going South: Cheap Labour as an Unfair Subsidy in North American Free Trade": My paper published by the CCPA in 1991, it estimates that right-to-work laws reduce manufacturing wages by over 15 percent, and then argues this is a "distortion" in normal democratic compensation practices that should be actionable under countervail law. (Of course, our enemies argue that it is unions that are the "distortion"!)

">http://www.caw.ca/en/11080.htm

What they say about fascists and their first order of business. Good essay by Jim Stanford.

They don't believe in free labour markets. Labour unions are at least as natural their corporate lobbyists and right wing think tankerists bending the ears of the Harpers and fat-cat senators alike.

Fascism and free labour markets are generally incompatible.

 

autoworker autoworker's picture

Does anyone know the current extent of constitutional protections of labour rights?

Unionist

autoworker wrote:

Does anyone know the current extent of constitutional protections of labour rights?

There was the 2007 Supreme Court decision which sort of, kind of, said that collective bargaining was a right protected by the Charter. Then there was that rather amazing decision by the Alberta Labour Relations Board in 2009 that ordered the Alberta government to insert the Rand Formula principle in its labour code within 12 months, citing the earlier Supreme Court decision as authority. I have no idea what happened after that... did Alberta appeal? Did they comply?

Québec was the first jurisdiction to legislate the Rand Formula (1977). It entered the federal code only in 1988. Not sure when Ontario adopted it. But until the ALRB decision, I never guessed that it could be seen as a constitutional right.

Resident lawyers, please weigh in!

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I also watched that Tim Hudak segment on P&P. Solomon tried to shoot him down, but with Hudak, it's like talking to a brick wall. It's scary how convinced he is that he's right. This is the future of conservativism - extreme right wing unforgiving positions - we've seen this in the USA for the past generation now in the Tea Party and elsewhere, and its migration north with the fucking Harper government. I get the impression that the Harper government is really the Koch Brothers in disguise. I wonder what Hudak's ties are to the Kochs?

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Boom Boom wrote:

It's scary how convinced he is that he's right.

Hudak's not right, he's Right. As in "Might Makes Right".

He's a full-blown, out-in-the-open, got-the-T-shirt, flying-the-fucking-flag FASCIST. As his hero Ronnie Raygun once said, "Facts are useless things." When you're a TRUE BELIEVER in the corporatist cause, reality and history are whatever you will them to be. Intelligent discussion is for wimps and losers to waste their time on...

That's us, BTW - and if we don't stop these bastards soon, Timmy will actually be right about something for a change.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

For a vision of Ontario under Hudak, go back to the Mike Harris years. Ugh.

jerrym

As bad as Harris was (and he was horrendous), Hudak's policies and attitude (as Boom Boom noted talking to him during PandP was like speaking to a brick wall appears even more hardcore in the same way that that the 21st century Republicans are even more extreme than the 1990s version.

Doug

Mr.Tea wrote:

I'm just curious about one thing (never having been in a union or involved in that movement): What is the problem with holding secret ballots in certification votes? That seems like common sense to me (but again, don't know much about the issue). If anyone has a clarification, that'd be appreciated. Thanks

 

It doesn't seem really necessary in cases where a strong majority of a workplace has signed up for union membership. It also - depending on how long it takes to arrange the vote - gives the employer a chance to persuade (which I suppose is reasonable) or intimidate (which isn't) employees into rejecting a union. As an example, it's thought this may have happened with respect to a recent vote on unionization at Holt Renfrew.

autoworker autoworker's picture

@ Unionist: Thanks for the info. I've been observing Labor's (sic) response to RTW initiatives in Michigan, one of which is to put forward their own ballot initiative to include collective bargaining rights in their state constitution. I'm thinking that Canadian Supreme Court rulings, vis-a-vis the Rand Formula, puts Canadian labour activists in a better position to firm up Constitutional protections. If my rudimentary understanding of constitutional law serves me correctly, the fact that Britain does not have a written constitution, lends much gravitas to legal convention, and by extension, to its influence on Canadian jurisprudence. If so, one might argue that adherence, for almost 70 years, to a Supreme Court justice's arbitration ruling, might also have accrued that force of convention to the Rand Formula. While political education, and countering negative opinions about unions is important, shoring up and expanding legal protections, based on a body of law, is, in my view imperative.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

The amazing thing is,these anti-worker policies and political parties are supported by working folks...It's obvious,the rich are an extreme minority so how do these fascist bastards continue to gain support and power?

Simple,I guess..a gullible and uninformed public..Barnum was right.

Unionist

For those who seem to believe workers need government-imposed secret ballots to protect themselves against being bulldozed by union thugs, here's some information (note that the first paragraph refers only to federally-regulated workplaces):

Quote:
Under the current set-up, there are two ways in which non-unionized employees can unionize their workplace. The first is known as card check certification, and occurs when over 50% of employees have signed membership cards stating their intention to join a union. If the Canada Industrial Relations Board confirms that a majority of employees have independently chosen to sign a union card free of any coercion and wish their workplace to become unionized, the Board issues a certificate, thus making the workplace unionized. The second way that a workplace can become unionized is through a secret ballot election. In instances in which more than 35% of employees but less than 50% of employees have signed a card stating their desire to unionize their workplace, the Board orders a secret ballot election to allow all employees to determine if they wish their workplace to become unionized. If a majority of those who cast a ballot vote in favour of the union, then the Board issues a certificate and the workplace becomes unionized.

While the secret ballot election approach exists in all ten provinces, only four provinces (Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and PEI) allow for unions to be certified through the card check certification process. In Manitoba, however, 65% of employees must sign a union card before the workplace becomes automatically unionized without a vote. In Ontario, between 1948 and 1995, employees wishing to unionize had the option of using the card check certification procedure. However, after coming to power in 1995, one of the first things that Mike Harris did was to alter Ontario’s Labour Relations Act to mandate that every union be certified through a secret ballot election, even if 100% of employees had signed a card stating a desire to have their workplace unionized.

A move away from card check certification to a mandatory secret ballot election would impede the efforts of unions to organize new members. A study by Sarah Slinn of Osgoode Hall Law School traced the effect of such a move in Ontario during the 1990s. Her study found that eliminating the option of card check certification had a considerable impact of unions’ success. Prior to the introduction of a mandatory vote, unions were successful in almost 73% of certification applications. However, following the elimination of card check certification and the introduction of a mandatory secret ballot vote, the success rate of union certification drives dropped considerably and they were successful in just over 64% of certification drives. She also noted that a mandatory secret ballot election also had other adverse effects on union organizing, including a reduction in the number of private sector workplaces being organized, a reduction in the number of smaller bargaining units being organized, and a reduction in the number of bargaining units consisting primarily of part-time employees. The data from Ontario suggests that unions would face significant challenges in organizing new members if the federal government were to make all union certifications subject to a secret ballot election and end the possibility of certification through card check certification.

[url=http://canadiandimension.com/articles/4254/]Labour Law in Harper’s Canada: New Directions, New Challenges[/url]

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Nobody should ever support any dilution of labour rights and laws.

 

Unionist

Further to my post #14 above, it appears that the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench held that the Alberta Labour Relations Board didn't have the jurisdiction to declare that the Rand Formula needed to be included in the Alberta legislation as a Charter requirement. [url=http://canlii.ca/en/ab/abqb/doc/2010/2010abqb777/2010abqb777.html]Source...

Of course, I could be reading it all wrong, which is why I'm still waiting for our lawyers!

In the meantime, my best guess is that the Rand Formula is not (as of now) a constitutional requirement. Which would help explain why only British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland, as well as the federal Canada Labour Code, currently include it.

 

Unionist

And here's a pretty good op-ed on Hudak's proposals:

[url=http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1219932--cohn-tim-hudak-s-tor... Tim Hudak’s Tory vision for a low-union, low-wage Ontario [/url]

jerrym

alan smithee wrote:

The amazing thing is,these anti-worker policies and political parties are supported by working folks...It's obvious,the rich are an extreme minority so how do these fascist bastards continue to gain support and power?

Simple,I guess..a gullible and uninformed public..Barnum was right.

Some working people base their attitude towards unions on one or a few personal encounters with unions. For example, if they are inconvenienced by a strike (can't make a delivery, buy or sell some product etc.) they fail to analyze why this is happening and overgeneralize that unions must be bad. When I was single, I lived for a while with two guys, one of whom hated unions because he had lost the opportunity to get a job because it went to someone who was already a union member. No matter how much I argued with him about the benefits of unions, he could only look at them from his narrow personal framework. Some workers like the sensationalism of right-wing TV (Sun and Fox) or newspapers (too many to mention) and start consuming their anti-union diatribes.

autoworker autoworker's picture

Hudak proposes legions of free agents without agency.

Doug

Unionist wrote:

And here's a pretty good op-ed on Hudak's proposals:

[url=http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1219932--cohn-tim-hudak-s-tor... Tim Hudak’s Tory vision for a low-union, low-wage Ontario [/url]

 

The big question to Tim Hudak ought to be why it is that feels Ontario ought to look more like Alabama than it currently does.

Unionist

Jim Stanford again, this time in the Globe & Mail:

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/wisconsins-disease-crosses-the...'s disease crosses the border[/url]

 

josh

It's a continuation of the race to the bottom. First ship jobs to low wage countries with little workers' rights. Then seek to drive down the wages and benefits of the jobs that remain. Except for the 1% of course. And pit workers against one another in so doing.

Bärlüer

Unionist wrote:

Further to my post #14 above, it appears that the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench held that the Alberta Labour Relations Board didn't have the jurisdiction to declare that the Rand Formula needed to be included in the Alberta legislation as a Charter requirement. [url=http://canlii.ca/en/ab/abqb/doc/2010/2010abqb777/2010abqb777.html]Source...

Of course, I could be reading it all wrong, which is why I'm still waiting for our lawyers!

The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench's decision merely concluded that the Alberta Labour Relations Board didn't have the jurisdiction to issue a general declaration of invalidity. That's a very important distinction. The Board can very well decide that a provision of its "home statute" (the Labour Relations Code) violates the Charter. It can also decide that the absence of a provision has the effect of violating the Charter and apply, in the circumstances of the case it is adjudicating, the appropriate remedy, which would be "reading in" what is "missing".

A similar thing happened in Quebec in the case of migrant agricultural workers. A provision in the Quebec Labour Code that posed a minimal threshold of three employees being "ordinarily and continuously" employed on a farm as a precondition to having the right to certification was found unconstitutional by the Quebec Labour Relations Board. This declaration of invalidity, however, was not (could not) be general, apply across the province in all situations, etc.—its effect was limited to the certification case that was before the board. However, that said, a finding of constitutional invalidity by a board has/can have a very significant jurisprudential impact on (potential) subsequent cases.

As for the more general question of what is constitutionally protected, WRT collective bargaining, by s. 2(d) of the Charter: it would require a lengthy essay, loaded with caveats and whatnot, to answer that question. And then, once written, it probably would be out of date. The law on this subject is in a considerable state of flux right now.

After the seismic change of Health Services, which found that s. 2(d) affords constitutional protection to collective bargaining, and some decisions by the lower courts and administrative tribunals which showed promise as to what could be obtained with it (just in Quebec, there were some significant victories in the following cases: the migrant workers case mentioned above, the Bill 30 case [restructuration of units in the health sector] and the Bill 7/Bill 8 case [workers in home childcare services, etc.]), recent decisions have been much less favorable and tend to restrain significantly what can be done in the post-Health Services era (the Fraser decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, recent decisions by Courts of Appeal [the recent Mounted Police decision in Ontario, the Bill 30 decision by the Court of Appeal, which overturned the Superior Court decision], etc.).

Unionist wrote:
In the meantime, my best guess is that the Rand Formula is not (as of now) a constitutional requirement.

That would be a good guess.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Timmy Hudak: Class Warrior

 

Sandy Dillon

Nothing being said today in the Conservative bias media but yesterday it was reported people who are working in this country SOME still have to go to food banks to make ends meet!!!! And these numbers are going up!!!

Reason????  They are not making enough money at their jobs!!!!!! LIKE HELLO!!!

No need for unions? YEAH RIGHT JETHRO!!!!!

Everything is going up in price except pay checks!!!

GET IT? NO? THEN YOU NEVER WILL UNTIL YOU TOO ARE STANDING IN THE FOOD BANK LINE!!!!