Ontario public sector unions meets provincial Treasurer

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Polunatic2
Ontario public sector unions meets provincial Treasurer

1 million Ontario workers face wage freeze

Quote:
 Ontario union leaders and other officials will sit down with Finance Minister Dwight Duncan on Tuesday to discuss a possible wage freeze for more than one million workers.

Duncan is faced with a $21 billion deficit and has already said some public-sector workers — bureaucrats, teachers and nurses — will face wages freezes when their collective agreements expire.

Now it appears Duncan wants to extend the freeze throughout the Ontario civil service.

Not only would 700,000 unionized workers face a wage freeze, but 350,000 managers would as well.

Union representatives don't appear ready to accept a freeze, saying the employees aren't responsible for the budget problem.

 

Issues Pages: 
George Victor

But, as it turned out when big Mike came to power in 95,  "Rae days" proved superior to "no days" for all those whose jobs disappeared as departments shrank.  And economists of the right are calling for an overall shrinkage of 10 per cent.   I can't believe that the union leadership will not be sensitive to the public perception.  Hudak is just salivating at the prospect of doing a Harris.

cruisin_turtle

Does Dolt McGuinty has any serious chance left of being reelected? He sided with Harper against the residents and businesses of his largest city re. the G20. Sided with Bill Bliar against Torontonians who got their basic human rights violated and got sweeped off the street and hauled to jail because they were protesting peacefully in the street or just because they were going home at the wrong time. Under his watch, the manufacturing base of Ontario got destroyed.  He wacked all Ontarians with a super tax of 8% on just about everything they buy. And now wants to freeze Ontario Public Sector wages.  Did I miss anything?   Who does this guy really serve if not his constituents and who is still voting for him?!

George Victor

I agree, it looks bad for organized labour with Hudak waiting in the wings. Mustn't forget the alternative(s), eh? But the polls will toll...

Farmpunk

The non-unionized public sector workers were told to expect wage freezes (I think Michelle pointed this out in another thread I started on public sector workers) and that wasn't news.  This is, apparently.

I know this is the labour forum, but I do have an issue with the messaging put out by the public sector workers.  The wording, from the CBC radio report I heard this morning, says that the freeze may "jeapordize services."

This seems like a big leap to me, and is hyperbolic.  Cutting jobs\positions would more likely hurt services.  Keeping the same number of workers on staff on their current wage\salary... how does that potentially hurt services other than making the employees angry?

Cueball Cueball's picture

If you read the Toronto Sun, tired harrassed and not very nice TTC workers who don't smile everytime you drop you change into fare box is a major issue for public service. Furthermore, people who are being squeezed financially, and forced slowly into conditions where they can not pay for planned for expenses, like mortgages, college fees, trips to the Zoo for their kids and so on and so forth are going to be stressed out employees who are not going to be giving their best to the job.

 

Farmpunk

TTC workers are not directly employed by the provincial government.  But I get where you're coming from, Cueball.

Still, non-gov workers without benefits are being squeezed by the same forces, and work in areas much less resistent to the whims of the greater economy.

It's gems like this knee-slapper from Sid Ryan that do a disservice to the workers' cause:

"From a policy perspective, it makes no economic sense whatsoever. You've got a government saying we need to stimulate the economy. The best way of stimulating the economy is through public-sector workers who spend every single penny of their disposable income in their local communities," he said.

Every single penney, eh, Sid?

And I thought trickle down economics was Reagan era thinking from the Republican right wing.

I was going to tack this latest gambit by the Ont-Libs onto my other thread, because I think this is merely the Libs taking advantage of a global shift in industrialized countries to hammer the public sector. This is, I think, how the Libs will position themselves going into the 2011 election, by chipping away with these kinds of fiscal policies, hoping to sway PCers who dislike Hudak's Harris extremism.

Croghan27

farmpunk:

 

"Every single penney, eh, Sid?

And I thought trickle down economics was Reagan era thinking from the Republican right wing."

 

This is not trickle down - trickle was shown to be falacious as not all the money goes to economic stimulation - some goes offshore, some to personal purposes and some to savings accounts.

 

 

Cueball Cueball's picture

It's not really relevant how the Liberals position will be shaped, because the government of Ontario position will laregly be shaped by the Federal cut backs that are coming, and may come in the form of more downloading. Any government that gets in will balance that against how effectively the Unions and other sectors fight the cutbacks.

At the end of the day, despite this griping about unions being privileged in terms of other workers (which is obviously true) they still hold the ceiling of wages up for everybody else. Once that ceiling goes, then working conditions and wages will go into free fall. Lets not forget that many of the services provided by the public sector, which the unions so dilligently defend, also are services that add standard of living value to the rest of us.

For example, Educational Assistants that help teachers with disabled kids are CUPE.

As for Sid's comment. It's simple. He means that unlike the banks and other corporations that hold onto or even export their accumulated profits, most workers in Ontario spend money here. He is just pointing out the falacy of trickle down economics in the terms of trickle down economics. Unlike corporate profits, most workers wages are spent here.

There is absolutely no guarantee that McDonalds will spend its profits here, no matter how many tax insentive or straight cash donations we give them.

The bail outs amount to a "pay-to-work" scheme.

Unionist

Cueball, I've been a bit busy these last few days, so I'm leaving you in charge of upholding the pro-worker banner in this thread. Great posts, Brother!

George Victor

Clearly, it's up to New Democrats to explain how the budget is to be balanced while maintaining at least the current level of social services which, in a high-unemployment economy, are sadly lacking.

There must be ways, without driving away the private (publicly traded) corporations that are our continued hope for employment and a golden old age.  Right?

Farmpunk

Then why didn't Ryan say that, Cueball?  Isn't that better than making an outlandish claim that could be picked up on by the opponenets of public sector workers and used over and over again to hammer home the point to the vast majority of non-public workers that the public sector has its head in the sand.
So do the public sector union retirement investments exclusively invest in local and Cdn businesses? Do public sector workers not play the stock market? Buy foreign sourced and produced goods?
I forgot to add the link to the quote:
http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/837872--dwight-duncan-s-wage-freeze-pitch-gets-frosty-reception?bn=1
CUPE's Fred Hahn makes a much more nuanced and intelligent set of points.

And of course it's important how the OntLibs are shaping their policy. How can it not be important?  Ontario has its own revenue streams and costs, quite apart from what the Feds dole out.  Plus, Ontario is now a have-not, so it gets more from the feds than in years past. 

Cueball Cueball's picture

Farmpunk wrote:
Then why didn't Ryan say that, Cueball?  Isn't that better than making an outlandish claim that could be picked up on by the opponenets of public sector workers and used over and over again to hammer home the point to the vast majority of non-public workers that the public sector has its head in the sand.

Because Ryan likes to make colourful sound bytes. He expects other people to pick up on the drift. And Ryan gets quoted because of it. The meaning is pretty obvious in the context of the justification and logic used to justify cut backs against workers and gifts to the corporations. Unions and their workers are accountable to the public, the corporations are not.

Cueball Cueball's picture

No. The NDP will just act according to the federal cut back plan, as will the Liberals, as will the Conservative. You said as much earlier when you made your reference to the Liberal Bob Rae governement of the early 90's. McGuinty for the moment seems to be using a softer touch with the unions, and will wait til the contracts run out to hammer down, as opposed to Rae who said: "Wait I have a plan! I'll rip up these contracts and do what I think is best -- who cares about collective bargaining!" In the end, it will be the unions themselves that will be the balance against whatever government is at Queens Park.

The unions, as much as I hate to say it, are the only cohesive force left that may be able to resist the clampdown.

Farmpunk

When did I reference Bob Rae?

I wouldn't necessarily discount the ONDP.  Fiscal reality will likely trump political ideaolgy, unfortunately, but I'd like to think the ONDP will present a better case for the public sector than the Libs or PCers.

Cueball Cueball's picture

That was GV who was talking about Rae. We cross-posted.

If you want to make a case against the teachers unions owning cadillac-fairview, I have no problem with that. That is an issue that should be contended with. But I think you are quibbling a bit much on the issue of Ryan's statement.

George Victor

quote:

"Because Ryan likes to make colourful sound bytes. He expects other people to pick up on the drift. And Ryan gets quoted because of it. The meaning is pretty obvious in the context of the justification and logic used to justify cut backs against workers and gifts to the corporations. Unions and their workers are accountable to the public, the corporations are not."

 

The corporations are accountable to their investors, which happen to BE "the public." That is the situation explained to the world by Naomi's "Boys from Chicago" in the 1970s and that turned around a straightforward view of "progress" by industrial action. Stagflation was curable only by wage and price control, then, and the current crisis of climbing government debt (at all levels) and hence the impossibility of further action by the old Keynesian means of pump priming, means we have to find another way around the dilemma. Worker action will not end the deficit (or debt).

 

What WILL overcome government deficit and debt in a globalized and debt-ridden world?

 

 

George Victor

Cueball wrote:

That was GV who was talking about Rae. We cross-posted.

If you want to make a case against the teachers unions owning cadillac-fairview, I have no problem with that. That is an issue that should be contended with. But I think you are quibbling a bit much on the issue of Ryan's statement.

 

And I'll bet Ryan has a position on OMERS' investments (that's the second largest Ontario pension fund behind Teachers' I believe). I'm sure Ryan has those investments in property and private infrastructure  in mind while putting down the tax breaks that ensure some remnant of profitable corporate life remains...does not pack up a go elsewhere in the name of responsibility to investors.   

Farmpunk

Ah, yes, I missed GV's post.

Re. Ryan's statement.  I'm not so sure the subtexts to his comments are all that clear in this instance.  And I don't think it's quibbling to point out he said something that can only hurt his own cause, and the cause of other labour orgs and leaders who can get by without the need to toss glaringly silly one liners at reporters in the intial stages of what will be a prolonged battle.

Thanks for the links, Polunatic. 

Polunatic2
Cueball Cueball's picture

George Victor wrote:

quote:

"Because Ryan likes to make colourful sound bytes. He expects other people to pick up on the drift. And Ryan gets quoted because of it. The meaning is pretty obvious in the context of the justification and logic used to justify cut backs against workers and gifts to the corporations. Unions and their workers are accountable to the public, the corporations are not."

 

The corporations are accountable to their investors, which happen to BE "the public." 

No the are not. They are accountable to private investors. These private investors by far and away represent a very tiny part of the population usually identified as the ultra-rich.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Farmpunk wrote:

Re. Ryan's statement.  I'm not so sure the subtexts to his comments are all that clear in this instance.  And I don't think it's quibbling to point out he said something that can only hurt his own cause, and the cause of other labour orgs and leaders who can get by without the need to toss glaringly silly one liners at reporters in the intial stages of what will be a prolonged battle.

Ryan's statements are aimed at broad stroke ideological constructs. These tend to be not very nuanced statements. In the battle for public opinion the marketers of neo-liberal arguments have no problem with making hugely falacious statements about debt and economy on a regular basis. These are gobbled up by the media without question.

Getting to lost in nuance will end up meaning that we lose sight of the woods for the trees. There is no point in getting to uptight about the fact that Ryan, ever so slightly slipped in a minor inaccuracy in an off-the-cuff statement, by saying "every penny" instead of "the great majority", or something more fuzzy and debatable like that.

The fact that there are instances where union money may end up as part of investment schemes that are free of local control, and end up being part of "capital flight", is pretty minor. At the end of the day if you calculated the total value of the percentage of GDP that goes directly into the economy from unionized workers, and what part ends up in pension funds that then end being shipped off-shore, you will find that it is small in relation to the overall GDP invested in the local ecomony through workers wages and union payouts to local social institutions such as this web site.

Simple and unnuanced statements are the name of the game with the coporate media.

George Victor

George Victor:

The corporations are accountable to their investors, which happen to BE "the public." 

Cue:

"No they are not. They are accountable to private investors. These private investors by far and away represent a very tiny part of the population usually identified as the ultra-rich."

 

 

You live in another time, Cue. Just after the Second War, investors represented some 10 per cent of the population. Today, everyone is dependent on their savings being invested in stocks that gain in value. You perhaps missed the point that OMERS, which carries the hopes and fears of Ontario municipal employees for an acceptable income in old age, is a huge investor, second largest in Ontario. The CPP is watched with bated breath by all. This is where we have ended up, and I can't believe that you don't recognize this.

 

And again (third request) what will have to be done to balance the budget?

Cueball Cueball's picture

George Victor wrote:
George Victor:

The corporations are accountable to their investors, which happen to BE "the public." 

Cue:

"No they are not. They are accountable to private investors. These private investors by far and away represent a very tiny part of the population usually identified as the ultra-rich."

You live in another time, Cue. Just after the Second War, investors represented some 10 per cent of the population. Today, everyone is dependent on their savings being invested in stocks that gain in value. You perhaps missed the point that OMERS, which carries the hopes and fears of Ontario municipal employees for an acceptable income in old age, is a huge investor, second largest in Ontario. The CPP is watched with bated breath by all. This is where we have ended up, and I can't believe that you don't recognize this.

Even if this what you were saying is true, the issue is "accountability", the fact that some people may be "dependent" on something does not mean that it is accountable to them. The fact that some, and not nearly "everyone" are dependent on pension funds does not mean that the local investment of these funds makes up a controlling share of the coroporate economy of Ontario, since of course as FP has pointed out a great deal of pension fund investment is overseas.

So, in fact the 50 Billion dollar value of OMERS has less to do with the economy of Ontario than you might think. Other coporate interests that are completely unaccountable to the people of Ontario make up the lions share of the total GDP of the province.

Or are you trying to assert that the Pension funds the world over account for a controlling share in the world economy?

George Victor

quote:

"Or are you trying to assert that the Pension funds the world over account for a controlling share in the world economy?"

 

Not at all. Even if what I am saying is not a lie:

"...I'll bet Ryan has a position on OMERS' investments (that's the second largest Ontario pension fund behind Teachers' I believe). I'm sure Ryan has those investments in property and private infrastructure  in mind while putting down the tax breaks that ensure some remnant of profitable corporate life remains...does not pack up a go elsewhere in the name of responsibility to investors. "

 

All I'm asking you to honestly answer is (for the fourth time) " what will have to be done to balance the budget?"

 

Just try to answer the goddam question, Cue.

  

Cueball Cueball's picture

I am not interested in answering the debt question untill we clarify your misrepresentations about the structure of Ontario's corporate economy. It is completely unrelated, except to say, there is nothing bad about debt. Debt, is a part of any investment program. Most people live with debt all their lives, indeed, the entire system of banking requires debt. To say that you want to abolish "debt" in an of itself is akin to saying we should abolish banks.

Come to think of it, you might be onto something there.

As for the trite neo-liberal intimidation tactics about "capital flight". All I can say is buying into that theme has done absolutely nothing to prevent capital flight. Indeed, did the Liberal Bob Rae government prevent any capital flight? Well no. Did your friend Mike Harris prevent capital flight? No.

Indeed, your corporate friends ultimate aim is to impoverish Ontarians, until they are as pliable as other desperate starving people who they employ in sweat shops all over the world. No "pragmatic" program of appeasement is going to dissuade them from their ultimate goal. If we ourselves can't even stand up to these manipulations, how can we ever expect the people of Singapore to do the same?

George Victor

My "friends" the corporations, Cue?  My"friend" Mike Haris?  Your representation of everything I have said is a complete lie.  What devious tricks you turn to in your sad ignorance. You are a  fraud and a liar.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Maybe you should review what your real political allegiances are because all I can see is you parroting hum-drum right wing talking points, about the need to cave into corporate caprice. A lot of people like to think they are on the "left" because the "left" is associated with caring, and "caring" is associated with being nice. Everyone wants to be a "nice" person. I think its about time that someone informed you that "leftism" is a political philosophy that also includes a political analysis whereby people are empowered to control their daily lives, not one based on urging them to surrender power everytime the corporation that manage their lives threaten to punish them for their desire to have a decent life.

 

George Victor

Read the business pages for a few days/weeks, come to understand what makes the province/country tick, and talk to people in the workplace. Come to understand what they want/need in a political party. I have been a socialist since the 1950s, and understand the evolution of what people out there want from a party of the left. 

You talk about "political analysis", but you have to incorporate "economic analysis" to understand what has happened over the last few decades.  Tell "the people" (and me) how to escape the market trap and you will have revolutionized politics today. But you can't. Instead, you resort to name-calling. I fought Harris in '95 and have had many columns and letters printed saying what a blot on humanity that he represents.  For that matter, for nearly three years I have said the same thing here. But that means bugger-all to you. Confront you with a real question from political economy and you resort to lies and misrepesentation.

"Nice", Cue?  The word must stick in your gullet.

 

Cueball Cueball's picture

We have already examined your analysis of how the economy works in "the real world" and discovered that you believe that "everyone" is hanging on tender-hooks waiting to find out how their CPP fund is doing, when most people are much more concerned about making their next mortgage payment, or even the rent. You also seem to believe that government and union pension funds are the driving force behind the Ontario economy. We are somehow supposed to believe that a couple of pension funds that amount to far less than half of the total economy of the province, means that corporations have public accountability.

Let me know the next time that MacDonalds sets up a series of local town halls to discuss issues of customer service, like ATU 113 did in the wake of public complaints about its workers.

Certainly these pension funds are a substantive part of the economy, but by no means to they amount to a controlling share, especially considering the fact that they maintian substantive off-shore investments. For example OMER has a 1/3 share in a major British Port infrastructure company. Indeed the fact that these funds are as important to the economy of Ontario has much to do with the fact that all the appeasements of the NDP/PC years of governance failed miserably to prevent capital flight, as people touting the "pragmatic" line you, and your conservative friends promised it would.

We bent over backwards to fullfill the requirements of the auto industry's "pay-to-work" scam,, with cash donations and tax incentives just as we recently did with the multinational banks, and none of that has had the slightest impact on capital flight. The corporations are completely happy to take our gifts and use them to set up shop elsewhere.

Furthermore, you seem to be obsessed with some bizarre idea that "debt" is somehow abhorent and antithetical to the capitalist economy, when debt (aka credit) is a fundamental part of the functioning of the economy.

The last, certainly indicates a substantive hole in your understanding of economy in the real world.

George Victor

Cueball's economics:

"Furthermore, you seem to be obsessed with some bizarre idea that "debt" is somehow abhorent and antithetical to the capitalist economy, when indeed debt (aka credit) is a fundamental part of the functioning of the economy.

The last, certainly indicates substantive holes in your understanding of economy in the real world."

 

But, of course, the credit phenom, which is responsible for bringing the financial world to its knees (debt) is a relatively recent development and has not been "a fundamental part of the functioning (sic) of the economy." The "economy in the real world" meant that more than 30 cents of every federal dollar went to pay the interest on the national debt in 1993. Perhaps you max out your credit card, Cue, but that's really a mug's game. The interest goes to bankers and insurance execs dtc.As my letter poking fun at Margaret Wente that ran in the Globe last month pointed out, it's not just a matter of self-denial, avoiding debt (her silly thesis). It became a means of promoting economic growth when stagflation appeared. And it led, finally, to the finanace (credit) crisis that won't go away.

 

I'll bet your solution to that is to ignore it. If only the investing world out there could be as sanguine. And you know what Greece, today, has to offer in the way of interest rates to attract investment, because of its debt. You know also, of course, that Canadian investors are looking offshore for the best returns (and that includes Omers). Or perhaps you have visions of that accumulating capital going into the mattresses and socks of the nation. Read Supercapitalism, Robert Reich's detailed explanation of what the changing world economics has meant to America (and Canada). For that matter, read any economist. Or try Naomi Klein. Or try contact with anyone outside your imaginary "real world."

 

Lots of folks who actually know what is gong on are just as angry as you about the fate of so many good people, Cue. But I don't believe you will ever understand their need to understand the basis of our dilemma. And please don't say "we" did this and that in bailing out banks and automakers. And you may not give a fiddler's fart as to the state of your savings, but by far the majority of people are concerned, and concerned that their government is concerned. They worked too hard to try to accumulate something for their old age. Scoff as you will.

jrootham

Balancing the Ontario budget will require tax increases.  The question is: which taxes and who will wind up paying them?

 

George Victor

Thanks, jr.  Been trying for something positive for several hours.  You mean, beyond the HST, of course  (and I'll look forward to reading your list of possibilites in the a.m.  )

Doug

Cueball wrote:

Furthermore, people who are being squeezed financially, and forced slowly into conditions where they can not pay for planned for expenses, like mortgages, college fees, trips to the Zoo for their kids and so on and so forth are going to be stressed out employees who are not going to be giving their best to the job.

 

Boo-hoo. Welcome to what the private sector working class lives every day.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Bullshit Doug.  This is not an anti-labour site.  You do a disservice to workers everywhere with that right wing mantra.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Doug has always been a firm supporter of setting the standard by the lowest common denominator, in all things.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Oh and thanks for clarifying some other myths that have been propogated here Cueball.

Cueball Cueball's picture

George Victor wrote:

Cueball's economics:

"Furthermore, you seem to be obsessed with some bizarre idea that "debt" is somehow abhorent and antithetical to the capitalist economy, when indeed debt (aka credit) is a fundamental part of the functioning of the economy.

The last, certainly indicates substantive holes in your understanding of economy in the real world.

"I'll bet your solution to that is to ignore it. If only the investing world out there could be as sanguine. And you know what Greece, today, has to offer in the way of interest rates to attract investment, because of its debt. You know also, of course, that Canadian investors are looking offshore for the best returns (and that includes Omers). Or perhaps you have visions of that accumulating capital going into the mattresses and socks of the nation. Read Supercapitalism, Robert Reich's detailed explanation of what the changing world economics has meant to America (and Canada). For that matter, read any economist. Or try Naomi Klein. Or try contact with anyone outside your imaginary "real world."

The challenge for you George is to confront the arguments made on this thread, not to authorize your surrender to Stephen Harper on the basis of third party drivel written by neoliberal technocratic economic determinists like Robert Reich, and sneering, as if the dropping the names of witty but politically comatose Clinton era apparatchiks add credibility to your views: Stuporcapitalism.

Simply put, it is alleged that freedom from debt is an desirable goal for government on the principles of 19th century Calvinist prudence, whereas it is quite obvious that corporations love debt, particularly personal debt. Indeed the entire economy is fundamentally run on debt in the modern world. The largest portion of the wages and salaries of people is committed through the banking system to loaning the banks money that they then invest, as they see fit, completely without any of the accountability that you suggest is present in the corporate system.

Indeed, they charge us for the pleasure of letting them hold onto our money before they "loan" it back to us, and then charge us interest on the loan.

Of course, any institution that might be directly accountable, such as the government, must be free of the power to direct investment through credit, on the principle of prudence, while we are expected to finance the system of unaccountable investment, through our own personal debt.

But I digress, I see that you have carefully sidestepped the issue of proving that fiscal restraint as advised by you, and your neo-liberal friends has actually prevented capital flight. Care to prove that Bob Rae's ripping up of "collective agreements" and imposing austerity measures upon the public sector unions, and reneging on public auto-insurance, or that policies of giving out massive gifts to corporations in tax incentives and straight cash donations prevented "capital flight"?

By the same token (and getting back to Ryan's point) care to demonstrate how removing cash from the hands of people who directly invest their disposable income in the economy of Ontario through direct purchases (rent, beer, housing purchases, food, consumer goods, entertainment), and handing it over to private investors through tax incentives is not actually facilitating capital flight?

Farmpunk

Jroot... heh, you have hit that nail right smack on the head.  Raise taxes or cut services.  Or probably both.  

Problem is, regarding public sector wages, is that people who don't work in the public sector make a direct correlation between their taxes going up and the wages of public sector workers going up.  Unfair, perhaps, but that's my reading.  So to balance the looming tax hikes I suspect the Libs will stick with the freeze.  

Much of the private sector is hamstrung by global economics.  I can only afford to pay my employees so much, and that's not going to change in the forseeable future, because I have no cost controls and the costs of doing business consistently go up.  And I'm in primary production, the supposed root of the economy.  The public sector is insulated in comparison and, oh horror, may now have to accept the reality of the private schlubs: stagnant income in an economic system designed for gradual inflation.

Public sector wages generally (always?) increase, no matter the greater economy.  Grass roots business - the type that is actually still making things locally, the few that remain - then has to compete in an inflationary local economy, where the public sector's upward push on salaries makes the wages - and benefits - of private business seem utterly second rate. 

Unionist

Farmpunk, you are wrong on every single point. That's quite an accomplishment.

Farmpunk wrote:
Problem is, regarding public sector wages, is that people who don't work in the public sector make a direct correlation between their taxes going up and the wages of public sector workers going up.  Unfair, perhaps, but that's my reading.

"Unfair"? When you have the entire business class, and their servants in government, and a whack of people who calling them progressives, telling people that "your taxes are up to pay the salaries of garbage collectors and people sitting in offices doing nothing", then it's not surprising that a few ignorant people will believe it. Mind you, it's mostly a few ignorant better-off people, because they're the ones more hit by tax increases.

The answer to the peddling of mindless ignorance is to explain the reality of the economy, while continuing to fight for better wages and working conditions - not, as some would prefer, to stop the fight until "we" win control of the means of mass education and communication.

Quote:
Much of the private sector is hamstrung by global economics.  I can only afford to pay my employees so much, and that's not going to change in the forseeable future, because I have no cost controls and the costs of doing business consistently go up.

Well, that's because your employees are obviously not unionized, and their only recourse if they don't like your freeze (or cuts?) in compensation and benefits is to quit. As for being "hamstrung", I've never met an employer that said s/he wanted to freeze wages in order to maintain or improve their own profit levels. It's always outside constraints that force them to treat workers the way they do. Yet, I have also never met employers who grasp that workers are even more "hamstrung" by global economics than they are. Workers have zero say on prices of food, clothing, and other necessities, nor interest and mortgage rates and the rest. To pay for any increases, workers need more money - and their source of money is generally their own labour (as opposed to owners, whose money comes from the labour of others).

Oh, by the way, if you can't afford to pay for the upkeep of your workers, perhaps consider a different line of business, or work. This is capitalism, you know. Sink or swim.

Quote:
Public sector wages generally (always?) increase, no matter the greater economy. 

This is one of those employer-side memes that I haven't even heard yet. It is, of course, utter nonsense. Public sector wages are frequently frozen in a way that unionized employers - and even the non-union ones, like you - could only dream of doing - by legislation. That hasn't happened in Canada to the private sector since Trudeau's wage and "price" controls. That's why musings by McGuinty mean more than by some private employer. If McGuinty doesn't get cooperation, he can simply impose.

As for the stats, every measure I know shows public sector wage settlements lagging behind those in the private sector. Since you're the one who made the claim, perhaps you could provide some evidence. Otherwise, I'll provide the figures when I have a minute, unless you want to retract the assertion.

Quote:
Grass roots business - the type that is actually still making things locally, the few that remain - then has to compete in an inflationary local economy, where the public sector's upward push on salaries makes the wages - and benefits - of private business seem utterly second rate.

Another baseless chamber-of-commerce-type assertion, blaming public-sector compensation for wage inflation. Why would we be hearing such unsubstantiated reflections in this thread, or on this board? At least in the case of big business, we know they don't really believe their own propaganda. Here, it's more troubling.

jrootham wrote:
Balancing the Ontario budget will require tax increases.  The question is: which taxes and who will wind up paying them?

Perhaps there's another way? Public sector workers could just take wage cuts to save the well-off from paying more taxes? Let's be creative here.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Farmpunk wrote:

Jroot... heh, you have hit that nail right smack on the head.  Raise taxes or cut services.  Or probably both.

I have to agree Jrootham's intevention was apropos. Indeed, same arguments, and the same logic from most NDP sources, as any of the other parties, which is why I pointed out up thread:

Cueball wrote:

No. The NDP will just act according to the federal cut back plan, as will the Liberals, as will the Conservative.

[SNIP]

The unions, as much as I hate to say it, are the only cohesive force left that may be able to resist the clampdown.

No new ideas here from any party. Same logic, same argument (constrained by global economy etc.), the Unions will be left being the only force that is even interested in holding the line. Hence it will be the Ontario government vs. the unions. Whoever makes up that government irrelevant...

On the upside, there isn't any pretense this time from the NDP'rs about any socialist politics being involved in their choices.

Next...

Farmpunk

Have Ontario's public sector workers been seeing pay increases in the recent past or have their wages been going up by zero percent?  I thought the fuss was about a freeze.  I am, perhaps, mistaken.

Maybe things are different in Quebec, Unionist.  Maybe you should go and tour St Thomas sometime, start on industrial road and the twenty closed businesses, and the ones soon to close, then go and suggest to all those people out of work and soon to be out of work that their ignorance is keeping them from understanding the plight of the public sector's fight against a freeze.  Maybe you're unique ability to tell people "reality" will work wonders.  My reading is that these are the people who get a little upset when their taxes will indeed be going up, they have to pay for everythng that a public sector workers does (plus the things not covered by a publically backstopped entitlement, like, say dental; eye glasses), plus they have NO job, and no prospect of a job anywhere within their former wage or that of the 2014 frozen public sector worker.  Surely you're fine grasp of the inequities of capitalism will suffice to keep these people from remaining ignorant.

That's the perspective I'm coming from.  Yes, it is certainly unfair to use public sector workers as a political wedge.  It is clearly not the fault of the public sector workers that the gov is in deep debt.  Like you say, it's capitalism.  The public sector workers can quit these jobs anytime, as well, and I imagine a freeze will end up pushing many of them into quitting due to the utter unfairness of it all.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Farmpunk wrote:

Have Ontario's public sector workers been seeing pay increases in the recent past or have their wages been going up by zero percent?  I thought the fuss was about a freeze.  I am, perhaps, mistaken.

The fuss is about the Ontario government proposing that deficit reduction necessitates a freeze in wages, when they are at the same time cutting corporate taxes. Why would you cut corporate taxes if the deficit needed serious attention? Aren't corporations all in favour of good government debt management? You would think they would be glad to help out. Maybe they could not cut corporate taxes, so much and offer a cost of living raise indexed to the rate of inflation -- sorry, that is just a crazy idea I know. Of course its working people who have to pay.

As for the economics of a "freeze", the fact is that a freeze is actually a cut.

Unionist

Oh, Cueball - don't you realize that corporations need tax cuts because they create jobs, while public sector workers need a wage cut because laid-off workers blame them for their plight?

I'm just sitting here with a pencil and paper trying to figure out how unemployed St. Thomas workers get to worry about higher taxes...

I'm also worried - any day now we'll be seeing poor and unemployed workers marching in the streets demanding that public sector workers' wages be frozen. What do we do then?

I give up. In the face of MSM editorials, what chance do we have? Let's just roll with the punches until the global economy turns around. Anybody hear when that might be?

To explain the irony - anyone who dials back their struggle for one instant because they're afraid of the enemy's propaganda is lost - and deserves to be lost.

George Victor

Cueball wrote:

Farmpunk wrote:

Have Ontario's public sector workers been seeing pay increases in the recent past or have their wages been going up by zero percent?  I thought the fuss was about a freeze.  I am, perhaps, mistaken.

The fuss is about the Ontario government proposing that deficit reduction necessitates a freeze in wages, when they are at the same time cutting corporate taxes. Why would you cut corporate taxes if the deficit needed serious attention? Aren't corporations all in favour of good government debt management? You would think they would be glad to help out. Maybe they could not cut corporate taxes, so much and offer a cost of living raise indexed to the rate of inflation -- sorry, that is just a crazy idea I know. Of course its working people who have to pay.

As for the economics of a "freeze", the fact is that a freeze is actually a cut.

The working life of any CEO of your average corporation who suddenly got benevolent and did not strive to maximize profit would not survive the next board meeting.  And the corporation that did not achieve predicted sales can only watch its stock values decline as investors head for richer ground.  There is no loyalty to the old family firms or their public counterparts. 

Nope, governments have focused on cutting taxes since Ronnie Raygun introduced the imperatives of transient investment capital to America . Steve sets the pace in Canada, and the provinces follow suit.  When you get around to reading about conditions on the fringes of America's old rust belt you see what happened to the organized working population of America starting more than a third of a century back.

Cutting corporate taxes keeps the corporation afloat and not looking for greener tax pastures...particularly important when the exchange rate on the dollar is based on oil and gas from another part of the dominion.

Anyway, Cue, that's why it's happening this way. And yes, it is totally unfair.  I hope that union leadership will at least be able to do something for those at lower earning  levels.  Demand for a "living wage" always found wide support.  The teachers, of course, can eat cake for a while.

Farmpunk

Whoa, haha, don't put the burden of the Libs not adding corporate taxes on me.

And a freeze is a cut.  How so?  It will certainly cut gov expenditures, if that's what you mean.  I thought a rollback on wages would be a cut to wages.   

I can help you with the pen and paper, Unionist. 

Those unemployed and soon to be unemployed workers now have to pay more via the HST.  Their property taxes are also likely going up (municipal, I know) if they own their homes.  And in St Thomas you can almost see the whirling blades of windmills - not created and produced in an industrial town like St Thomas, bought by the public - that are creating green energy at a massive public subsidy to help international companies like Samsung's bottom line.  The unemployed worker has already gone through the indignity of having to bankrupt him\herself to squeeze benefits from the gov.

So, sharpen your pencil and follow along if you can.  Unemployed workers see all this happening, read about it, and then read about the public workers fighting against a freeze.  The ledger isn't adding up in favour of much beyond schadenfreude, unless your using a very dull pencil.

George Victor

You move from the sublime to the ridiculous with ease in your obfuscatory fashion.

Cueball Cueball's picture

George Victor wrote:

Cueball wrote:

Farmpunk wrote:

Have Ontario's public sector workers been seeing pay increases in the recent past or have their wages been going up by zero percent?  I thought the fuss was about a freeze.  I am, perhaps, mistaken.

The fuss is about the Ontario government proposing that deficit reduction necessitates a freeze in wages, when they are at the same time cutting corporate taxes. Why would you cut corporate taxes if the deficit needed serious attention? Aren't corporations all in favour of good government debt management? You would think they would be glad to help out. Maybe they could not cut corporate taxes, so much and offer a cost of living raise indexed to the rate of inflation -- sorry, that is just a crazy idea I know. Of course its working people who have to pay.

As for the economics of a "freeze", the fact is that a freeze is actually a cut.

The working life of any CEO of your average corporation who suddenly got benevolent and did not strive to maximize profit would not survive the next board meeting.  And the corporation that did not achieve predicted sales can only watch its stock values decline as investors head for richer ground.  There is no loyalty to the old family firms or their public counterparts. 

Nope, governments have focused on cutting taxes since Ronnie Raygun introduced the imperatives of transient investment capital to America . Steve sets the pace in Canada, and the provinces follow suit.  When you get around to reading about conditions on the fringes of America's old rust belt you see what happened to the organized working population of America starting more than a third of a century back.

Cutting corporate taxes keeps the corporation afloat and not looking for greener tax pastures...particularly important when the exchange rate on the dollar is based on oil and gas from another part of the dominion.

Anyway, Cue, that's why it's happening this way. And yes, it is totally unfair.  I hope that union leadership will at least be able to do something for those at lower earning  levels.  Demand for a "living wage" always found wide support.  The teachers, of course, can eat cake for a while.

You mean. Vale is going to move Sudbury to Brazil? As I pointed out earlier there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that their is a limit to corporate greed. There is not bottom line point at which they suddenly say, ok "a living wage" is good enough. Indeed, you still have to answer the question, despite your repetitions of right wing tropes, and helpless muttering in the face of the "natural forcese of the market", that any tax insentives or donations to corporations have prevented capital flight.

None of that saved Ontario's manufacturing sector as far as I can tell. Please tell me what they can move that hasn't already been moved... after taking our cash?

Doug

Cueball wrote:

about the Ontario government proposing that deficit reduction necessitates a freeze in wages, when they are at the same time cutting corporate taxes. Why would you cut corporate taxes if the deficit needed serious attention? 

 

I totally agree. Let's leave corporate taxes where they are and have a pay freeze overall, with lower paid workers being exempted and public service management receiving cuts.

We should be aware that workers in Ontario as a whole have seen only a 0.8% wage increase year over year, and that's not including any effect from the reduction of hours for some workers.

Doug

RevolutionPlease wrote:

Bullshit Doug.  This is not an anti-labour site.  You do a disservice to workers everywhere with that right wing mantra.

 

What's right-wing or anti-labour about pointing out that public sector workers have been able to do better than workers who more directly face competition and that there might be an inequity here? I don't think that public sector workers should have their wages and working conditions radically altered as a result, but perhaps higher wages shouldn't be the focus of new public spending just now.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Interestingly FP is arguing that the wages of "highly" paid unionized workers pushes the wages of non-uniozed workers up by increasing the value of labour in the market. At the same time I will argue that these unionized workers also, add value to the "living wage" of non-unionized workers, because many of them deliver services that are basically state sponsored benefits that accrue to all.

For example, non-unionized workers have the benefit of being able to send their children to a public school, staffed by professional teachers, as opposed to paying for it themselves.

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