'Right to work' is a lie

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The title might sound harsh, but there is no other way to say it. Creating legislation that takes away human rights in the workplace, and claiming that it is giving you rights, is deliberately dishonest. What it's really about is greed and low wages.

There has been much written and much hand wringing lately about social inequality and the ever growing gap between the haves and the have-nots. There is more wealth now than there has ever been. We don't have a deficit problem. We have a distribution of wealth problem. "Right to Work" legislation will make that gap much, much worse.

 The top 1% love their money. They also love the processes that make them even more money. These processes are tax cuts and tax avoidance, deregulation, privatization of public assets and services, lax environmental laws, lax health and safety laws and low wages. Greed is the reason why Harper and Hudak want this legislation. The only way to get low wages and dramatically increase profits for the wealthy is to get rid of unions.

 One way to get rid of unions is to starve them financially out of existence. In fact, anyone who is critical of Conservative policies these days -- like environmental, women's and Aboriginal groups --has had their funding cut and is thoroughly demonized.

This is precisely the same way that the top 1% and the Tories are getting rid of public services. They have starved public services, public infrastructure and public assets by their campaign of tax cuts. Then, after deliberately "creating" the crisis in the public sector, they claim that privatization is the only way out. Who profits there?

Right-wingers like Harper and Hudak do only one thing; they transfer wealth to the wealthy. That's it, that's all they do. And they do it by passing legislation that facilitates all the processes that make the top 1% more and more money. All the rest is smoke and mirrors. Harper and Hudak continue to make "tooth fairy" promises that tax cuts will lead to prosperity. You only have to look south to the U.S. To see what a disaster these processes have been there.

Unions are the only democratic counterveiling force to corporations and the top 1%. Unions have been exposing the smoke and mirror show and corporations and the wealthy don't like it. So they are trying to shut them up.

The top 1%, through Harper and Hudak, is trying to convince wage earners that the "Rand formula" is somehow a violation of their human rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a bald faced lie. The right to organize and the right to join a union is a basic human right. It is a right that is recognized by the United Nations.

The Rand formula came into being when the Supreme Court of Canada Justice, Ivan Rand, in 1946, in an arbitration decision ending the Ford Strike of 1945 in Windsor, Ontario. In short, because everyone in a unionized workplace benefits from the wages and conditions in a workplace, everyone must contribute dues in an automatic check off from their paychecks. No freeloaders. Rand also said the unions need to have the resources to balance off the power that employers have in the workplace. This was to ensure fairness and to prevent exploitation of wage earners. The Rand formula has been in existence for 77 years and now it's a problem? Now it's a violation of workers rights? Baloney.

The existence of a union at your work is often the difference between a good job and a bad job, the difference between a high standard of living and a low one. It means you don't have to live in constant fear of your boss and you have some power in the workplace.

Here are some questions for Harper, Hudak and Ford. The wealthy 1% and corporations are extremely well organized, controlling everything from governments and the media to the food we eat. Why is it not O.K. for working people to be organized into unions? What's wrong with having a democratic workplace? Who knows more about a public or private companies business than the people who work there?

We often hear from employers, 'We are past the time when unions were needed to protect workers from deplorable working conditions. Maybe Unions were needed long ago but now Unions are dinosaurs and no longer necessary.' Nothing could be further from the truth. Employers who are currently saying these things are the same employers who, decades ago fought unions ruthlessly. Employers and their friends in government and police fired, jailed, beat and even killed those who fought to form unions and advance the rights of working people.

Working people, including many union workers, are suffering from a kind of group amnesia and have forgotten how we built a fairer and more just society. For all their problems, unions have produced tremendous gains for all wage earners, and many of us take that for granted. Unions helped build the public sector with public assets such as schools and universities, hospitals and health care, electrical utilities, water, sewage, garbage, roads, libraries, community centers, the L.C.B.O. and on and on.

Having a healthy, unionized public sector with public assets was the way to spread the wealth evenly and raise the standard of living for everyone. The existence of a union at your work is often the difference between a good job and a bad job, the difference between a high standard of living and a low one.

A society that doesn't have any unions is a much different civilization. If you don't think unions are good and necessary for a high standard of living, look south to the U.S where unions have been decimated. The standard of living for many people is very low and most of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few.

What do you think will happen to your existing pension if unions are destroyed here? There will be no one to speak up for you. Plans are already in the works to lower your pension. If you don't think that's true. Think again.

When you see the smoke and mirror show about "Right to work" legislation from Hudak and Harper, speak up. The greed of the top 1% knows no bounds.



Paul Kahnert was a member of CUPE One and a spokesperson for the Ontario Electricity Coalition.

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