Friday, 14 December 2012

Is the private-sector union history?

Dear Readers,

Today, I bring you verbatim, and article by Mark Dunn, Senior National Reporter for Sun Media which provides a little more background about Bill C-377. Once this becomes law, this could very well be the defining moment for taxpayers across Canada , as we take back our country. As usual, my response is below and there is room for your comment, so feel free to share your view of everyone's right to work!

Conservative MP Russ Hiebert is spearheading a debate in Ottawa about the transparency requirements of unions. His private member's bill, C-377, would impose new public reporting requirements for unions.                                              

A backbench Conservative MP is satisfied his private member's bill forcing union leaders to disclose salaries and how much is spent on political action is on solid legal ground. Russ Hiebert's public disclosure bill narrowly passed in the Commons and now sits in the Senate where labour groups will refocus lobby efforts to kill it - a tall order considering the Tory majority in the upper chamber.

Bill C-377 - an amendment to the Income Tax Act - requires union executives to disclose salaries over $100,000, bonuses and the amount spent on political activities, among other things. "All it does is shine a light on where it (dues) goes," Hiebert said, pointing to other countries, including the U.S., Australia and the United Kingdom, that have similar laws.

The British Columbia MP said charter experts were consulted in the bill's drafting and advised him C-377 would survive a constitutional test. "That's not to say that opposition to the bill will not try and use the courts to prevent its implementation, but I'm very confident that it will withstand any such challenge."

The NDP and other critics say the bill is flawed, unconstitutional and costly to implement. Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti said the bill is bad public policy and "punishes" unions and labour groups will turn their attention to the Senate. "We're still surprised that this legislation passed."

The Senate will address the bill in the New Year and indications so far suggest the Liberal minority won't put up any roadblock

                                                                 Ford assembly line
my response...

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer says it best when he points out that it should come as no surprise that the heyday of the sovereign private-sector union is history. Globalization has made splendid isolation impossible. Those who long for the past might like to look back to the postwar years when the CAW was all-powerful, the auto companies were highly profitable and the country was flooded with Canadian-made cars. In that Golden Age, the Union won wages, benefits and protections that were the envy of the world.

Today’s few protesters demand a return to that norm. Except that it was not a norm but a historical anomaly. Canada, among the great industrial powers, emerged unscathed from World War II. Japan was a cinder, Germany rubble and the allies, beginning with Britain and France, an exhausted shell of their former imperial selves.

                                                                  More on the assembly line

For a generation, Canadian manufacturers were busy. Then the others recovered. Soon global competition, from Volkswagen to Samsung began to overtake Canadian industry that was saddled with protected, inflated, relatively uncompetitive wages, benefits and work rules.

Higher wages or lower unemployment? It is a wrenching choice. Although, you would think that Liberals in Ontario would have been more inclined to spread the wealth, i.e., the jobs around, preferring somewhat lower pay in order to leave fewer fellow workers mired in unemployment.

Think of the moral calculus. Lower wages cause an incremental decline in one’s well-being. No doubt. But for the unemployed, the decline is categorical, sometimes catastrophic, a loss not just of income but of independence and dignity.

                                                           And still more on the assembly line

Nor does protectionism offer escape from this dilemma. Shutting out China and the others deprives less well-off Canadians of access to the kinds of goods once reserved for the upper classes: quality clothing, furnishings, electronics, durable goods from the Taiwanese-manufactured smartphone to the affordable, highly functional Kia.

One can sympathize with those who long for the union glory days, while at the same time welcoming the new realism that promises not an impossible restoration but desperately needed, and doable recalibration and recovery.


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