Monday, December 17, 2012

Right to work, Mr. Hudak and unions

Susanna Kelley, Ontario News Watch:

With the passage of legislation in Michigan to make it a so-called "right to work" state, PC leader Tim Hudak and several of his caucus have jumped on the idea of doing the same here.

Actually, "right to work" is an American idea, affirmed in the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act that amended the National Labor (sic) Relations Act. 

It allows employees in a unionized workplace to choose to forego paying union dues, yet still get the wages and the benefits derived from the collective bargaining agreements bargained by the union.  In other words, they can get the benefits even though they are not paying the costs.

Unions call them "free riders."

The political right supports "right to work" (RTW) legislation because companies do not want to deal with unions, nor favour paying the higher wages and benefits they win.  

The right believes, correctly, that if union dues are voluntary, many people will stop paying them (why pay for what you can get for free?) thus cutting off union resources so they cannot bargain or organize effectively. Union membership will drop, further weakening unions.

And in fact, in the U.S., all of this is exactly what has happened.

Mr. Hudak has a problem here in Canada, however: the so-called "Rand Formula" in Ontario, a compromise ruling by Justice Ivan Rand in 1946. 

Contrary to what some uninformed PC's have been telling people, the Rand Formula does not force anyone to belong to a union.

It does however say that someone who benefits from wage increases and benefits derived from a union, such as collective bargaining, they must pay union dues - the opposite of the Taft-Hartley Act.

Hence, if you go to work in a unionized workplace where you necessarily benefit from the wages and benefits negotiated by the union for you, you must pay union dues.

In other words, Justice Rand said there should be no "free riders."

This is what Mr. Hudak wants changed.

Mr. Hudak says this will mean more prosperity for "hard-working families," who will be able to keep more of their pay in their own pockets rather than pay union dues.

He is also demanding that salaries of union staff and elected leaders be made public, along with any monies they spend on political activities.

Let's be absolutely clear here.

Unions are democratic organizations that come to represent employees in a workplace only after a majority of employees have voted in favour of joining.

Almost all unions already report the financial information Mr. Hudak is requesting to their members every year. Their members would rise up against them if they didn't.

Unions are also private organizations, funded with the private dues of their members - just like the conservative-friendly Albany Club in Toronto, the National Citizens' Coalition, the Canadian Federation of Small Business or the Ontario Taxpayers' Federation.

They are not public agencies like the LCBO or Ontario Lottery and Gaming.

And though union dues are tax deductible, so are the costs of business entertainment for companies.
Many businesses make tax-deductible political donations.

And most glaring of all, political parties such as the one Mr. Hudak leads are heavily subsidized by public money, as donations are tax-deductible. Yet, taxpayers have no say in their money going to support his party or any other.

Continue reading here.

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