Friday, December 31, 2010

Tax Base and The Industrial Sector

The new year is hardly underway and the mainstream media has already jumped on the issue of budget deficits as proclaimed with alarming and accelerating regularity by all levels of unelected and elected government officials. It should be no surprise that when the source of is this information is sourced that workers in the public service are always mentioned and in most cases the focal point of the blame. Of course this is not anywhere near the truth and is another example of where workers are blamed for government,corporate and international trade and monetary policy failure that goes back to at least the beginning of the free trade, de-regulation, privatization thrust of globalization and the forces that drive globalization. Of course the people blaming the workers seem to forget or intentionally ignore the failure, the United States being the clearest example of this, of the globalization agenda.

The nineteen eighties, ushered in by the election of government leaders such as Thatcher and Reagan, witnessed the early stages of the manifestation of the globalization agenda. The policies of globalization continue to be a failure and when it comes to tax base a quick calculation should bear simple and clear witness to this. Globalization and its intrinsic exploitation of labour forces in the developing world and repression of the labour force in the developed world drive manufacturing and industrial jobs offshore. This equates to millions of jobs shipped offshore and lost in the industrial sector, as has been the case in Canada and the United States for example, and with it goes the well paying middle class jobs that served us so well in the post war era (and before the free trade era). Since the majority of those affected by these job losses never again regain full employment and the industrial facilities that once paid significant taxes are gone forever it is no surprise to find that the tax base in a wide number of jurisdictions is diminishing. The loss of industrial and manufacturing facilities in Ontario is alone responsible for billions of dollars in lost tax revenue.

Take this to the next absurd argument offered by globalization advocates and you find them saying that the way to attract business is to lower taxes. Now the policies associated with this say to solve this lets further attack the wages of public sector workers to regain the loss in general revenues that don't exist anymore. Is anyone getting this? Globalization destroys well paying middle class jobs, destroys social safety nets for those in our society that are most in need and makes the elite and rich in our society ever richer (headlines today say that CEO's make 115 times what their workers make). Nowhere does this agenda of globalization set forth a plan to sustain the middle class and to do what is necessary to make the future brighter for workers in our own communities. Nowhere does the agenda of globalization set forth a plan to regulate for the purpose of the common good and ensure that things such as water, energy, , health, infrastructure and food (to name a few) should remain in publicly regulated hands to ensure that it does the maximum good for the common good.

The agenda of globalization is now an example of failed public and international policy and it is time to get past the blaming of workers, unions and the poor for the failure of this policy and to get on with peeling the lid back on this and putting the world back on a path to fair trade, proper regulation and public ownership of public infrastructure, increasing access to collective bargaining rights for workers and sound social safety nets for all. This is nothing more than what worked successfully in the post war era to make a strong and healthy middle class that propelled at least the economies in North America to enviable strength and growth.

One of the past leaders of General Motors was quoted as saying "you can't have an economy if you don't build anything"; well we are fast approaching that. Add the loss in taxes and the poor choices made with limited tax dollars and it is no wonder that a revenue shortfall exists in a wide variety of jurisdictions.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Monday, December 27, 2010

Grey-Bruce Labour Council Letter from the President 2010 / 2011


Representing the Needs of Working People Since 1956

(Chartered to the Canadian Labour Congress in 1956)

Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Letter from the President

2010 / 2011

Sisters, Brothers, Delegates, Friends & Partners of the Labour Council, Union Presidents, CLC and OFL;

As we approach the end of 2010 I want to wish everyone the best for 2011 and beyond and to say thank-you for the dedication, passion and compassion of the past years. I, along with some others, will see the our 22nd year of involvement with the Grey-Bruce Labour Council this coming year and when I look back on our accomplishments it is always through the prism of the people that have graced our table and our work in the community that our accomplishments are viewed most clearly.

Our Labour Council, amongst the ruins of Ontario’s industrial sector and the never ending attacks on working people and our most vulnerable, remains a vibrant component of the Labour Movement in our region. The Grey-Bruce Labour Council is not without challenges that must be overcome to continue to be successful, but one glance at our strength and diversity of membership, partnerships and friends demonstrates that we are here to overcome these challenges and to continue to be the voice of working people in our region for the foreseeable future.

There are always dangers when one attempts to set certain people or actions above others in the vein of a letter such as this, but with immense pride in all our successes it is the inclusiveness of our Council that needs to be near the top of the list. Of course this inclusiveness is a choice made by all at our table, but we have never sent anyone of social conscience away from our table. I am sure that this pillar of our existence will continue in 2011 and I can see no better of way of demonstrating this than ensuring that our OPSEU Sisters and Brothers are welcomed despite any activity between NUPGE and the CLC at the national level.

The upcoming year has amongst our key activities a deeper involvement with our political allies and partners, a week-end school in April, refinement of our scholarships, a president’s meeting, a youth forum and outreach to our region’s unions to become involved with the Grey-Bruce Labour Council. Each of these initiatives will require significant effort to see a successful outcome and to neglect the help our CLC and WHSC Staff can provide and have provided would be a huge oversight. To this end, many thanks to Stephanie and Kim!

On a very personal note, the people involved and that support our Labour Council embody what Sister and Brother actually means and I am never more proud than when I get to brag to the world about all my Sisters and Brothers.

In Solidarity, Dave

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Essential Services

The deeming of services beyond what society has no ability to be without whatsoever as essential services is nothing more than the next step in undermining our charter right to free collective bargaining. The latest headline grabber in this debate is Toronto Councils’ support for essential service legislation for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).

The need (however arrived at) for essential service legislation in almost all cases outside of the narrow band mentioned above is removed or at least significantly mitigated should employers come to the bargaining table with full intention of reaching a two party collective bargaining agreement. When union negotiating committees give notice to bargain there is always full intention to reach a two party deal. The intolerant regimes like Ford and his Council minions in Toronto find it easy to overlook this vibrant component to labour relations and instead play off those who are easily turned to a negative opinion of unionized workers.

Perhaps an even more fundamental part of the debate and the legislative initiatives that undercut free collective bargaining is the failure of governments, irrespective of jurisdiction, to enact anti-replacement worker legislation and card check certification. Both of these items encourage free collective bargaining by ensuring that employers are kept at the bargaining table and that more workers have easier access to union organization.

The use of essential service legislation should be a measured approach and only applied with the utmost care and due diligence and never used as it is in this case; to intentionally mislead people into thinking negatively about unionized workers and to grab more headline space for people like Ford.

Branding the TTC as an essential service is playing with a tool that is needed, but is not appropriate in anyway for the suggested application.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Law and Order and Poverty

Prime Minister Harper and his caucus are great advocates for a Law and Order agenda or as I like to call it; another right wing easy answer.

Make no mistake there are legitimate criminal entities that the very brave women and men in law enforcement must confront to ensure the safety of the individual and society in general, but the concern in this letter is part of the convoluted attempt of governments of similar philosophy to the Harper conservative to use the cover of the law and order agenda to cover up the fact that they have no policy to deal with the roots of poverty.

The various roots of crime are indeed far too broad and varied to discuss in a short letter, but sadly a statistically relevant part of crime is rooted in the fact that for conservative and right wing governments are happy to pander to the segment of the population that believes in throwing more policing and bigger jails at the problem instead of doing the hard work and establishing programs or funding existing program to aid those whose poverty has driven them to crime. Of course not everyone who lives in poverty turns to crime; in fact the vast majority live a life dignified and defined by their struggle to do what is right by themselves, their families and their communities despite the daily challenges that must be overcome. In the same breath poverty, sometimes multi-generational and sometimes a direct result of recent job loss drives people who do lose hope to do things outside of the law.

The law and order agenda, where policing and incarceration increase considerably, needs to be stopped in its tracks and re-evaluated in light of what would take place if government policy took straight aim at generating jobs in the manufacturing and resource sectors. This would create an economic recovery based on being a producer of Canadian made goods rather than country racing to the bottom of the economic ladder and shipping off middle class unionized jobs to parts of the world where workers are exploited.

If legislative policy at all levels of government focused on regenerating the well paid unionized jobs found in the manufacturing and resource sector that have disappeared in the millions in Canada since the signing of the first free trade agreement in 1988 it may just be that the crime generated out of the poverty created directly by the ridiculous trade policies of successive Canadian governments would be mitigated. The end result is a much healthier country economically and socially and the easy answer or glib conservatives / right wing are forced to answer for their long term legislative failures instead of hiding behind the fa├žade of their law and order agenda.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Friday, November 12, 2010

Municipal Elections 2010

Municipal Elections 2010

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) campaign to endorse and help elect candidates in the recent Ontario municipal election met with significant success as over 1200 endorsed mayors, councillors and trustees were elected. Locally the Grey-Bruce Labour Council endorsed two school trustee candidates and three candidates for councillor. The effort was a clear success as all but one candidate is now in office.

CLC political action campaigns and activities implemented by local labour councils and local unions have become a centrepiece of the work to protect working families in our communities. Working families have fallen victim to a never ending list of legislative and policy initiatives at all levels of government that have robbed them of jobs and dignity and for those that remain in the workplace the necessary protection that regulations pertaining to the workplace provide. Examples of such initiatives would be bad trade deals, failure to develop a reasonable industrial jobs strategy, protection of social and healthcare services, failure to adopt “card-check” certification to make unionization easier and failure to adopt “made in Canada” policies by some municipalities (quite acceptable under even free trade agreements).

Elevating the political activity of those that represent the interests of working families is an absolute necessity to ensure a worker’s voice. Too often the voices of the right receive the attention of government and media; after all they have such catchy phrases as “I will end the gravy train” which is closely attributed to the new mayor of Toronto. Running and endorsing candidates that stand in clear opposition to such meaningless platitudes and vicious attacks on working people is an absolute necessity. More locally and in our region there are those that no doubt aspire to the equivalent in right wing views, but between the endorsed candidates and those with strong social conviction already in place the absolute necessity of working through the CLC and Labour Council to elect and then hold accountable those elected is critical.

This municipal election stands ahead of what is expected to be a federal election in the spring and a provincial election in the fall and the successes of this municipal campaign now holds the lessons to lead those who believe in the value of working people to greater success at the ballot box next year and in four years back at the municipal level. On behalf of the Grey-Bruce Labour I offer thanks to all those that worked to elect candidates that are friends of working people and to offer encouragement to all candidates to put working families first.

Dave Trumble
President Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Labour Council Supports Steam Generator Transfer

Dear Editor;
In evaluating the facts associated with the plan to ship used steam generators from Bruce Power to Sweden for recycling the Grey-Bruce Labour Council has resolved to support the shipment. The basic tenets of this support are found in light of the facts that 3-4 million shipments of radioactive material are safely shipped each year in Canada and that this shipment is governed by the same regulations and that the specific radioactivity is significantly lower than the vast majority of these shipments. In addition when it is noted that the entire life cycle of steam generator removal, shipment and recycling process is handled by well trained union members and that the idea of minimizing waste is consistent with all environmental initiatives the Council Delegates were able to strongly support the shipment.
The Labour Council discussed the facts of the issue and heard to some degree the details of the falsehoods put out to needlessly alarm people in respect of this issue. The discussion was fact based and to this end the delegates focused on the responsible and accurate reasons that support this initiative and hopefully that will bring this recycling technology to Canada so the Canadians can carry out this very same project over the next couple of decades when, not if, the remaining CANDU units in Ontario have to have their steam generators removed and the metal recycled.
Dave Trumble
President, Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wind Power Produces 6% of Ontario's Electricity, Big Deal!

The recent high winds in Ontario has given rise to some power outages in a variety of locations in Ontario. Now this is hardly news (unless we do a seperate blog on the failure of the Ontario government to support the ongoing needs for renewal of our electrical transmission system), but it did focus for a day or so the attention of the media on Ontario's electricity supply. The Media true to form missed the big issue, but pronounced with much fanfare that Ontario's wind farms produced 6% of Ontario's electricity needs for a short period of time this past week.

This is a fine piece of information and given the need for a diversified supply mix it is likely not bad news, but the issues that are missed by the media are the real story. The first of these would be the fact that when Ontario had an industrial jobs strategy and a significant industrial load (which wind cannot support)over 60% of Ontario's electrical needs were met by nuclear power and that billions (with a "B") tonnes of greenhouse gases were mitgated by the use of electricity from nuclear plants. Still in the vein of nuclear power; all the electricity from nuclear energy was created in three defined geographical areas (Bruce, Pickering and Darlington) as compared to the various wind farms that dot and destroy landscapes and are built without any consideration for negative health effects.

The media in Ontario and in most jurisdictions exhibit an astounding lack of understanding of the electricty sector and energy policy and this has recently been demonstrated in the focus of this blog, but I would also suggest it is further demonstrated in the media's failure to research the issues around what will without a doubt be the safe transfer and shipment of used steam generators from the Bruce Nuclear Site and the inability of the media to fully grasp the complete disaster that awaits the electricty consumers of Ontario as the Ontario goverment implements more and more of it's green energy act. Perhaps the most ludicrous piece of this act is the ability for the government to count the energy not used by a now shutdown manufacturing plant (shutdown due to the lack of an industrial jobs strategy)as conservation.

A safe, dependable and diversified electricity supply and a responsible energy policy with knowledgable media reporting on the sector is absolutely necessary for general understanding of the energy sector and to ensure that decisions are made that align policy with need and not with ideology.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The highest court in Saskatchewan has upheld a decision to certify a union at a Wal-Mart in Weyburn, Saskatchewan

Dear Editor;

The highest court in Saskatchewan has upheld a decision to certify a union at a Wal-Mart in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. In a unanimous decision the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal upheld the certification of United Food and Commercial Workers’ (UFCW) Canada Local 1400 bargaining unit at the Weyburn store. The certification had originally been issued by the Saskatchewan Labour Board in December 2008.

Wal-Mart had successfully challenged that certificate in a lower court but that court’s decision was struck down by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, and the union certification upheld. This is a victory for workers rights and the principle that no company is above the law.

It was the second time in a week the courts have ruled against Wal-Mart. Just two days prior to the Saskatchewan ruling, the Quebec Superior Court upheld an arbitrator’s decision that Wal-Mart had acted illegally when it shut a store in Jonquiere, Quebec shortly after workers there joined a union.

Meanwhile, UFCW Canada members at a Wal-Mart in Gatineau Quebec recently achieved a first contract. UFCW Canada members at a store in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec also have a contract in place.

In Saskatchewan, UFCW Canada Local 1400 also has applications pending before the labour board for Wal-Mart stores in Moose Jaw and North Battleford.

Seeing the workers in one of the largest, if the not the largest business in the world, able to access their rights to free collective bargaining is some of the best news the trade-union movement and workers in general could possibly receive. It tells the world that people are long past the point of accepting that their standard of living must be diminished while the unbridled greed associated with globalization and as many people refer to it, the Wal-Mart mentality, proceeds unchecked as business drills deeper and deeper into the poorest countries of the world to establish their outposts where no labour, environmental or health and safety regulations exist. In fact this very behavior exists within our own borders as globalization permits the use of sub contractors that have no access to any legislative protection.

If business had nothing to hide and was interested in looking after their workers they would not oppose unionization nor would they oppose the various forms of legislation that protects the lives and livelihoods of workers such as improvements to health and safety legislation, pension reform and legislation that prohibits the use of replacement workers (scabs) when workers exercise their right to withdraw their labour when the employer fails to offer a reasonable collective agreement.

Dave Trumble, President, Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mid term Elections

Is anyone else watching the most hypocratic batch of candidates in history; the batch involved in the mid-term elections in the US. Each and everyone is trying to lay claim to the high ground on the jobs front? Now, to be fair, some of them are legitimate in their claims, but on the whole they are about as hypocratic as the day is long.

The vast majority seeking re-election came to be in office on the free-trade. low taxes and de-regulation platform; a platform that any person of social conscience or just minimally interested in job creation will discredit. The spin on this is that these same people have two disgusting habits. The first is their self-righteous attitude that they are the only ones to see the failing of these policies of successive previous governments and that they will make it right. Don't forget many of them came to power believing in this same travesty in the eighties and nineties. Even more distasteful is the efforts they make to try and convince us that they discovered Free Trade and its associated failed policies when the Labour Movement in Canada sighted the pending disaster in 1987 as American and Canadian governments of the day rocketed Canadian manufacturing jobs to the "right to work States" in America as they signed the first free trade agreement in 1988.

Candidates committed to change are the ones who commit to a policy of manufacturing jobs and resource jobs in North America without the propaganda that accompanies the advocates of the global economy. They will also be recognizable by their tell tale statements similar too; "reasonable amounts of taxation and increases in taxes are necessary to pay for programs such as health and education that benefit all people not just the rich".

When election day in America hits take some advice from a Canadian and get past the morbid fear of taxation and tell the candidates that the only policy that will lead to prosperity in America and other countries is fair trade, reasonable taxation and necessary regulation.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Saturday, October 2, 2010

New Brunswick voters respond to public ownership issue

The electorate in New Brunswick may have finally manifested a sentiment that has been simmering in so many corners of the country for a very long time. In fairness the vehemence of the attack on the ruling Liberals in New Brunswick may have had something to do with deals on the selling of NB Power being made in secret, but it is clear that a statement has been made on the selling off of public assets. The trade-union movement has most certainly vocalized the folly of selling off public assets for a short term gain on balancing the books at any level of government and has done so for what is likely better than 20 years.

I don't want anyone to think for one minute that electing a Conservative government in New Brunswick provides any degree of solace to anyone in the trade-union movement or anyone of social conscience, but it does make it clear that the voters have seen through the facade of selling of public assets for short term gain. The voters in Ontario need to either learn this lesson or, if already understood, manifest the lesson into action when considering where to put their votes this fall or next year in the provincial election.

Public assets owned and regulated by the public for the public good belong in the hands of the public. Recognizing that the NB sale was going to Quebec does not alter the fundamentally flawed principal of selling off public assets to private interests or to another public entity. Across North America many public assets have been sold to private interests only to see the level of service drop off drastically while a narrow group of investors harvest the asset with little or interest in seeing the asset(s) flourish for the benefit of anyone other than themselves. By example, private money and investment in healthcare have created competition in healthcare where the only competing interests should be the patients and caregivers as they compete with the illness or injury with but one goal in sight; the well being and ultimate care and hopefully cure for the patients. Instead profit margins enter into the equation and the caregivers and the patients become the expendable quantity while the profiteers do what comes naturally.

The variety of public assets in such jeopardy are wide and are represented in almost facet of the public sector. In fact in numerous jurisdictions, Ontario being one, public entities such as the LCBO, Toronto Hydro and Hydro One are or have been targets of such attacks. The senselessness of this is not only the selling off of a public asset, but selling assets that actually provide revenue for the government of Ontario. Of course this promotes an entirely different letter; the selling of public assets for purely ideological reasons.

Many people will argue that for Ontario, as was likely in New Brunswick, that the books must be balanced to attract investment to the province. Funny about that; the same people that push that argument are the first at the trough when it comes buying these public assets for their own personal gain. They are not beyond making something look like it is a mess to encourage public sentiment that the "fire" sale makes sense; what a shell game! Thankfully the good people in New Brunswick finally made someone pay a price for this recklessness with public funds and fiduciary folly of selling off and possibly further deregulating public assets.

In the end public assets owned by the public, publicly regulated and staffed by well represented unionized staff is the wining formula and may well be the mantra for success at the polls.

Dave Trumble
Labour Council

Monday, September 6, 2010

Relevancy of the Labour Movement

Labour Day is a very important day for all people; for some it is a celebration of the Labour Movement and its history of improving the lives of working people and for some it is their annual invitation to question the relevance of Unions. This question is the hallmark of those not educated about unions, but perhaps, even darker, it may the annual call of those who through fomenting this controversy propagate misunderstanding such that people are denied the opportunity to receive an unbiased view of what Unions have done for workers and what is possible going forward. The only purpose served by denying people the information is to intentionally prevent people from establishing an educated understanding of trade unionism such that they will seek what is rightfully theirs; fair compensation, pensions, safety, fair wages and respect as a few examples.

The most ironic facet of this debate is that unions are all around us yet it seems that it is only labour unions that are the victim of the question of relevancy. A union is but the conscious choice by a group of people to work together for their collective good. On the macroscopic level this is represented by the union of the provinces of Canada or the states of the USA who came together to make life better and to protect their citizens. On the smaller scale the gathering of stores on Main Street to form a business improvement organization is nothing more than a union of stores that advocate for improvements in local regulations such that their profits may increase.

The differences between the trade union movement and these other such examples are defined by things such as the Labour Relations Act here in Ontario, but the essence of coming together collectively to work to improve the lot of everyone in the collective group is as much a pillar of the trade union movement as it is in any number of other such examples of collectivization or unionization. When the question of the relevancy of unions is thrown out each Labour Day it is very easy to see through the facade and to see the question for what it is and to realize that the question is the pet of those afraid that workers will come together collectively and ask for education such that they will ask for what we are entitled too; fairness in the workplace and a place in the policy making process of government such government policies work to protect jobs instead of sending them offshore.

Just for the record, the trade union movement is more relevant today than it has been since the very inception of the trade union movement.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Friday, August 20, 2010

People Can Achieve the Change they Want, A Labour Day Message

Labour Day is about celebrating the contributions made by all working people, but is also an opportune time for people to rededicate themselves to securing the respect that is often lacking in so many arenas when referring to working people. For instance; when was the last time a corporate or financial leader or member of any sitting government called for the first priority to be the well being of their employees or their constituents? We know all too well that the easy platitude for these same corporate people is to say things such as "people are our most important asset" or "we are in the people business". In the world of government the words are different, but just as hollow and insincere. Overwhelmingly, the evidence demonstrates that corporations find it easy to put just about anything ahead of the needs of their employees-even in spite of legislation that would not support such behavior- and that the basis of existence for the majority of politicians is re-election or shameless pandering to their corporate benefactors.

The leading edge of social change is very often the domain of Labour activists. This is easily demonstrated by the involvement of organized labour in the creation of such necessary legislation as the Occupational Health and Safety Act, various Human Rights Legislations, the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act. Of course this does not happen because corporate leaders or governments have a desire to see progressive legislation enacted, but because workers took their rightful place on the social agenda of the day and took the argument and battle for worker's rights to election campaigns and the ballot box in collaboration with other partners of social conscience.

People often call for change, but can't seem to reach a place where the fundamental changes needed are actually acted on and it is this challenge that must be picked up and acted on as we look forward from the upcoming Labour Day Celebrations. The control that corporate leaders exercise on the political agenda of the day is entirely based on the comfort provided by a history of voter complacency where the status quo or another version of the status quo is implanted in the seats of government; term after term. The biggest fear of the corporate and financial leadership resides in an educated electorate making choices at the ballot box that they know will improve the life of working people. Examples of making such choices would be a TOTAL rejection of policies that diminish defined benefit pension plans, that support free trade policies as compared to fair trade policies, that support privatization and deregulation ahead of public ownership and adequate regulation to name but a few such items.

How do workers, and for that matter all people of social conscience, do this? They reject the recent history of elections at all levels and educate themselves on all issues and vote as educated voters to prescriptively vote in people that put workers and the rights of workers ahead of corporate greed. This may sound to some degree to be revolutionary, but it is only by doing so will we put ourselves once again in a place where we can establish and sustain such ideas as universal health care which if you will remember was initially rejected by the mainstream of the establishment, but to-day is part of the Canadian identity.

The Canadian identity has always been one of inclusiveness and the collective good and it is only the establishment and sustaining of an educated and active electorate that stands between us and this lofty ideal. Take the time to re-affirm the rightful place of the real wealth makers of this country, workers, on this Labour Day and resolve to be the most educated and active electorate in a few generations and let us take the agenda back to a place where working people are the focus of corporate and governmental policy.

Happy Labour Day

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Public Sector Unions / Corporate Tax Cuts

When did it become an axiom for governments to put pandering to business before representing citizens in general. The latest attack on public sector unions by the McGinty government has far less to do with government sorting out budget issues and more to do with ensuring that corporate dollars will flow to the provincial liberals in the 2011 election.

McGinty's cowardice towards putting the citizens of Ontario first is the equivalent of Harris' venomous frontal attack on the same people. These activities are easily hidden behind the attack on public sector unions as sadly and incorrectly people in public sector unions are portrayed as somehow unworthy of the benefits that have only been derived through decades of hard fought collective bargaining done within the confines of such legislation as the labour relations act.

McGinty and Harris the 2nd, Hudak, should stop hiding their pandering and catering to business by trying to make themselves seem somehow noble by hammering public sector union members. If these same governments realized that wealth is in the hands of the people they would turn every legislative initiative on its respective head and make only trade deals that keep manufacturing, resource and high tech jobs in Ontario while vigorously supporting our public services and public sector workers. Hot on this would be encouraging people to unionize to ensure that wealth is shared and to enforce regulations that protect people and jobs ahead of corporate coffers.

It may be time for the people of Ontario to revisit the election paradigms of the past and vote for not only a socially responsible change in 2011, but a change in the representation format such that we will finally elect a government that is elected by a true majority.

Dave Trumble
Labour Council

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fortress Toronto Not So Bad

This coming week-end will see what has been called "fortress Toronto" put into action. The security measures as we know have been sold to us as necessary to protect the leaders of the twenty most industrialized countries and largest economies in the world. By this late date just about all that can be said about this colossal waste of much needed public money has been said.

The irony of all this is that the security measures are put in place to protect the very people that can do little or no more harm to us at this summit than they and their predecessors have done everyday for decades as they hammer into existence more and more legislative policy that hurts ordinary working people around the world.

I would like to suggest an alternate use for the security measures and the fence; it is better used to protect the people that will rally and protest from the leaders that will be in Toronto at the summit. If we assume that virtually every protester has designs on making sure that their actions hurt no one during the week-end then we already know their designs are more honorable than the leaders who will continue to act in a way far less honorable as they return home next week and seek out new ways to deregulate economies in the interest of globalization with virtually no interest in seeing workers around the world protected and secure in a future that provides living incomes and social safety networks such that their retirement may be with dignity.

Keep the fence up and lets just hope it keeps the protesters safe from the G20 leaders.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Deregulation Still Haunts Us

This often referred too "first week-end of summer" is a time of awakening for many Canadians as we reopen cottages, light Bar-b-Cues for the first time since last fall and wax our cars, but this awakening is also a time of re-awakening the pain of grief and suffering as the wonderful people of Walkerton Ontario mark the tenth anniversary of the Walkerton water tragedy.

This avoidable tragedy brought to the people of Walkerton suffering and death; suffering and death of family, friends and loved ones. Yes it was avoidable on more that one front; a couple of the operators of the water treatment system received much of the blame, but it must never be forgotten that deregulation of our public services such as water treatment and sampling greatly accelerated the trip to disaster and tragedy.

If one needs more examples of where deregulation governments such as the former Harris government in Ontario and the current McGuinty government fail to represent and care for the people in their jurisdiction just think back to the privatization of TSSA inspections and the deadly propane explosion in north Toronto of a couple of summers ago. Fast forward to to-day and the McGuinty government is entertaining the possibility of privatizing Ministry of Labour inspections. Just imagine the disservice that workers in Ontario will be subject too if this privatization and deregulation exercise dose for workers what the privatization of TSSA inspections and water sampling did for the public safety.

Dave Trumble
Labour Council

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Federal Conservative Party Intolerance

If there was much doubt about the agenda of intolerance that the federal Conservative party subscribes too the last few weeks should have cleared up that doubt. In the past few weeks the federal Conservatives have excluded abortion, in contrast to the rest of the G8, as part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's G8 maternal-health initiative, have witnessed some raw political advice on the same abortion issue from a Conservative senator to women's groups “shut up” or it could get worse and, lastly, the removal of funding for Toronto's pride celebration.

Take these last few items, which are only a small subset of numerous other attacks on a wide variety of progressive groups and unions, and add them to the contempt for parliament that Harper has and a clear picture of intolerance emerges.

Canada is built on a long standing foundation of tolerance and understanding and in light of this should Harper ever have the courage to face the electorate the voters will need to give thorough consideration to this most important consideration; what type of Canada do we still want and who do we want to represent that Canada.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunshine List, $100,000 High Rollers ?

Mainstream media, or should I say media that has long forgot the necessary balance between being a successful business and selling papers or advertising space and being true to journalistic standards that report on a subject while leaving out the unnecessary right wing and short term thinking bias that is so much part of most mainstream media to-day has once again lived up to its reputation by unidimensionally reporting on the public sector employees who were compensated in excess of $100,000 in 2009; the sunshine list.

The first important piece of the report that is never discussed is that this mandatory reporting commenced only when the government of Mike Harris implemented this requirement. The Harris regime in its manic fear of a functioning and educated public service insisted on this report to further the Harris mantra of demonizing the Ontario Public Service to swing the so easily manipulated electorate of the time to believe that Harris' goal of privatization was not only financially prudent (which we know not to be true then nor is it today), but more sinister was the dark propaganda genius of not only requiring the reporting, but mounting the greatest campaign of misinformation about all unions in a generation or more. The reporting in concert with the campaign of misinformation lead those easily lead into a dislike of the public service thus requiring the dedicated public service workers, largely unionized, to fight to maintain their jobs and unable to provide the necessary public oversight that would have been provided to the public such that they would have seen the dogmatic direction of the Harris regime that certainly had no desire to look at anything in a broader social context for the general good in anyway shape or form.

In support of the poor reporting of this story lets examine the facts of those actually listed on the sunshine list. According to the Toronto Star, who seemed to report the story with some editorial conscience, most of the 63,671 Ontario public employees who made more than $100,000 last year aren't high rollers. They're nurses, police officers and garbage collectors who worked a lot of overtime, or mid-level bureaucrats who were pushed into the six-figure club by inflation. They certainly did better than the average Ontarian – who made $45,400 last year – but they weren't egregiously overpaid. And, as the government noted, if the annual "sunshine list" were indexed to inflation, the threshold would now be $130,000, not $100,000, and the list would be 70 per cent shorter.

By the way the overtime is often associated with the underhiring of full time staff.

While the sunshine list is still in existence and in reality still doing a great deal of harm to dedicated public service employees and unions in the public service the omission of such items of interest as the minimum wage is now only poised to reach $10.25 an hour. It took over 1,000 days to reach $10 and hour from the day the ten dollar minimum wage legislation was enacted almost three years ago. Further to this is the short term memory experienced by so many in the Ontario electorate; the three days of debate the Ontario government under Dalton McGinty took to give itself a 25% raise while continuing to attack the rights and benefits that were collectively bargained with Ontario public service unions while the minimum wage debate was still on.

The sunshine list has outlived its usefulness in its current structure and context as it puts the focus unfairly in only one area and was created out of malicious intent instead of a desire to provide fair and equitable disclosure.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Grey-Bruce Labour Council Delivers Message of Solidarity to Striking Steelworkers at Vale Inco

On March 22nd thousands of workers, union and non-union alike, will be in Sudbury to tell “Vale Inco that imposing its way of doing things on Canadian workers is unacceptable. In light of the recent celebrations of International Women’s day and Anti-Racism Day Labour Council President, Dave Trumble is clear in his message of support to the members of the United Steelworkers and the workers that will rally in support of the Steelworkers at Vale Inco; “We have to get the message to foreign corporations that they cannot import anti-union strategies to Ontario and Canada. In the company’s Brazilian operations, workers are not laid off, but terminated without cause. They have no seniority rights, no access to grievance and arbitration procedures and health and safety standards are extremely low”.

The 3,000 Steelworkers at Vale Inco are clearly holding the line for all workers and people of social conscience. Many in the business community will say that Vale Inco’s actions are necessary to make Vale Inco competitive in to-day’s global market. In response to this Len Hope, Labour Council Executive Member and Pension advocate, points to numerous profitable Canadian Companies such as Inco in the days before the feeble excuse of globalization permitted Vale’s Brazilian type punitive style of business and labour relations to take hold. Hope says that “globalization has been the excuse for too long for unwarranted, perhaps unprecedented, punitive attacks on Canadian workers and in the end a way of life that no Canadian should ever permit to be threatened, no matter where the threat comes from”.

The Grey-Bruce Labour Council, and the thousands of workers that find their voice in the Council stand in solidarity with the members of the United Steelworkers and all workers who will rally in support of the Vale Inco workers and the fight to maintain not only their collective rights in Sudbury, but in a very real way the society of fairness and social responsibility that has and must define Canadians and Canadian society going forward.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kill a Worker, go to jail

Twelve years after the Westray mine disaster of 1992 the Criminal Code of Canada was amended by Bill C-45. Bill C-45 allowed for prosecutions of corporate executives, directors and managers who wrongfully or neglect to uphold their responsibilities to make and keep workplaces (large and small) healthy and safe. The successful passing of the amendment had little to do with political will and more to do with the work of United Steelworkers for whom the Westray mine disaster meant the loss of 26 of their brothers.

As of to-day no executive, director or manager resides in prison as a result of the amendment and a successful prosecution. The fact that hundreds of workers in Ontario alone have lost their lives since 2004 and over two Million workers have been injured is proof enough that executives, directors and mangers across Ontario and Canada who neglect their health and safety responsibilities have not had a change of heart such that Bill C-45 is not needed. Never more true is the opposite; they have simply been able to avoid successful prosecution under C-45 even if they were in many cases successful prosecuted under various provincial acts such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

It may be that the end is near, for those in a position of corporate power who wrongfully or neglect to uphold their responsibilities to make and keep workplaces healthy and safe, as Millennium Crane Rentals Ltd. will appear in court this week on charges of criminal negligence causing death following a fatal accident last spring, according to an article published yesterday at The charges are as a result of Bill C-45, according to the article.

By charging Millennium Crane Rentals Ltd. law enforcement in this case is making it clear to employers that if they kill a worker they are going to jail. The Labour movement under the leadership of the Ontario Federation of Labour has called for a criminal investigation into the Christmas Eve tragedy that took the lives of four construction workers and seriously injured a fifth. There is no doubt that as this plays out Bill C-45 will be very much on the minds of the investigators and on those that acted in such a way as to cause these deaths and injuries.

Plainly and simply, the time has come for corporate leaders and trade union leaders who put safety as their first priority to push as hard as possible for the maximum penalties under the law for corporate leaders who choose to do otherwise.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council