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