Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Charles, over on the 401, has called me out, "to hear a solid defence of organized labour in Canada."

Fair enough. I'll try and present one, if I can, when Charles presents a solid attack of his own.

Charles' full post is here.

As far as I can tell, Charles has presented some pretty good evidence to suggest the membership and leadership of the CAW don't have their priorities straight, but he has done little to discredit the right to organized labour and collective bargaining.

Unions in Ontario form and are disbanded at the will of a majority of employees in any given workplace. In fact, under laws enacted by the Harris government, the ability to disband a union has become significantly easier, many would say fairer, since the previous NDP government. Further, the actions of union leadership in bargaining are held accountable to the general will of the union membership.

So, if the membership of the CAW prefers to persue short-term personal gain at the expense of the long-term health of their industry and own jobs, that is their

If Charles is trying to make an argument to deny the right of labour organzation he has to do better than this. If he's trying to make the argument that unionization inevitably leads to actions such as those of the CAW, he has at least made a modest start.

But again, are the members of the CAW not free to make their own choices? Clearly, Charles will never join a unionized workplace; and that's his choice.

In a pre-emptive counter to the innevitable questions regarding the rights of the minority of employees in a unionized workplace who oppose particular actions of the union, or the union altogether, see my previous posts here, and here.

Posted by Matthew @ 4:01 p.m.

Read or Post a Comment

You say I'll never join a unionized workplace, and that that's my choice. Well, because I don't happen to have an uncle or brother in the union, that door is pretty closed to me, so what choice do I actually have? Our labour laws are undemocratic in the sense that they encourage nepotism and corruption, and are unfair to employers. Work stoppages made sense when the safety of employees was being put at risk. But to negotiate wages and benefits to the point of driving the employer out of business? This is unfair to the general public seeking employment, unfair to the consumer, and unfair to the employer.

Posted by Blogger CharLeBois @ July 26, 2005 9:24 p.m. #

No union that I've ever been a member of, or that a family member has been a member of has required a 'connection' to join. Pretty much it was a situation of, if I'm going to work at place X I join the union.

As for unfairness to the general public, they can choose not to work in a unionized workplace. The majority of workers in Canada are non-unionized, there is actually less choice for those who want to work in a union.

The consumer can show thier displeasure with unions by purchasing thier products from non-unionized employers, like Toyota, as you cite.

Employers can take steps to avoid, de-certify, or shut down union organization in their workplaces as many companies such as McDonald's, Wal-Mart and Magna do, nothing wrong with that as long as it is within the law.

Again, if the management of GM et. al. cannot convince their employees that the bargaining tactics of their union leadership are not in their best interests that's a problem for management and labour to work out in this particular instance.

But I maintain that the problem you're drawing attention to is not one of union organization but of the collectivly expressed choice of the individual members of the CAW.

Posted by Blogger Matthew @ July 27, 2005 10:22 a.m. #

Matthew knows I am no fan of unions. I have belonged one - OCAW 914 in the summer of 1981 actually it was two - my first and last. By the way - that was a summer job, and summer jobs were allocated 1/3 to children of union members, 1/3 to children of management and 1/3 to the community at large. And in that commnity, the "connection" you needed for a full-time job was a grade 12 education.

Anyway, for all the problems with unions, if you are looking for examples of a company's problems linked to labour unions, you are going to have to look further than GM.

In a recent report to shareholders, (http://www.autospectator.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1449) CEO Wagonner reports that health care costs are the major issue in their financial health. While this manifests itself in the collective bargaining, the core issue here is HEALTH CARE COSTS, not the fact that the union wants support from their employer in dealing with them. Now if the US would adopt amore progressive health care policy, then . . oh never mind.

Also, the address outlines some of the issues affecting the outlook for GM in the future. They include:

"... among others, the following: changes in economic conditions, currency exchange rates or political stability; shortages of and price increases for fuel; labor strikes or work stoppages; health care costs; market acceptance of the corporation's new products; pace of product introductions; significant changes in the competitive environment; changes in laws, regulations and tax rates; and, the ability of the corporation to achieve reductions in cost and employment levels to realize production efficiencies and implement capital expenditures at levels and times planned by management."

Note that since this is a corporate address, they don't mention their ability to build a car North Americans want to drive.

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