Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In Response to Rudy Fiebiger’s Article “Reader feels Ontario should strive to be nuclear-free” published in the December 28th, 2011 issue of the Kincardine News

Dec. 28, 2011

Dear Editor;

In Response to Rudy Fiebiger’s Article “Reader feels Ontario should strive to be nuclear-free” published in the December 28th, 2011 issue.

Rudy’s letter will without a doubt attract a lot of technical feedback and the vast majority of it will clearly and factually refute Rudy’s letter. I, however, wish to address some issues on the edge of Rudy’s focus.

The all or nothing single minded approach that many wind proponents take is unique to wind proponents and in direct opposition to almost all nuclear proponents. The single minded approach is certainly in clear opposition to the voice of workers in the Nuclear Industry, the Canadian Nuclear Workers’ Council (CNWC), where the optimum electricity grid is seen to be made up of a firm base load of nuclear generation in addition to other traditional generation methods such as hydro electric and fossil and a percentage of renewables such as wind and solar. There are many other organizations, professional, scientific, etc, that would be aligned with the CNWC, but I will limit my remarks to the CNWC aspect.

The CNWC is made up of many affiliated unions and they stretch across all aspects of the nuclear industry. Examples would be the USW, CAW, CEP, IAFF, IBEW, PWU, PSAC, CRTT, SPEA, IAMAW and these workers work in everything from mining / fabrication and generation to medical isotopes and research. This diversity is representative of a large part of the nuclear industry, but given Rudy’s vision of a nuclear free Ontario these jobs, in an already damaged Ontario economy, would disappear as would the life saving isotope work and the lion’s share of the $7.2 billion industry that the Canadian nuclear industry represents; not to mention that 95% of all parts and materials in a CANDU reactor are sourced in Canada. Can’t say that we hear that about almost anything else today!

Rudy’s comments about Bruce employees (“Don't worry Bruce employees; you are not going to lose you fantastic pay cheques and benefits”) demonstrates that ever present lack of understanding so often found in people who refuse to educate themselves about Trade Unionism, and intrinsic to that, the process of collective bargaining and the rights to that under the Charter of Rights of Freedoms. To use Rudy’s words the cheques and benefits came about not as the result of some benevolent entity, employer / government or otherwise, but from 65 years of collective bargaining lead by the Power Workers’ Union and its predecessors and many years of hard nosed collective bargaining by the Society of Energy Professionals and the BTU.

So, Rudy, I am sure that you will get lots of feedback, but on the issues responded to herein you have already lead with your chin and sadly in this case not very credibly.

Dave Trumble, President Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Originally Posted in the Dec. 28th 2011 Issue of the Kincardine News

Reader feels Ontario Should Strive to be Nuclear Free

Posted 1 day ago

Dear Editor,

I have observed with amazement the wind power issue plaguing the Kincardine area for the past few years.

Terms like bewilderment, stunned, dazed and at time stupefied come to mind.

Here we are living next door to a nuclear plant which albeit very safe to today's standards is nevertheless a ticking time bomb which cannot be turned off by just throwing a switch.

Nuclear waste is going to be with us for hundreds if not thousands of years and yet I some 'official' people think it's a good idea to have it buried here in the ground for the next 1,000 years.

I wonder if the people in this area have somehow been brain washed by a very clever pro-nuclear group to think that wind energy will herald Armageddon and destroy this are a beyond recognition. (Don't worry Bruce employees; you are not going to lose you fantastic pay cheques and benefits).

Is this a severe case of the noisy minority getting undeserved air play? In every conflict, the truth is the first casualty.

Yes, wind power needs to be put under more scrutiny before we go ahead and plant them en mass in our landscape but let's be realistic and honest... wind power is a very small menace compared to nuclear power.

Let's open our minds to alternatives in energy generation.

We all want clean energy, reliable energy, and cheap energy... (Easier said than done) but let's keep in mind too that neither of the two mentioned energies can do it alone.

Let's think outside the 'proverbial' box.

Stop the herd thinking and let's be a little more in touch with what lies before us.

A nuclear-free Ontario would be something worth striving for... it can be done.

Rudy Fiebiger Point

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Working / Middle Class Incomes

In many parts of the world exposure to an intense level of commercialism, advertising and marketing is part of the last months and weeks of every year. Curiously the miniature stories portrayed in television commercials and the plethora of full page ads in national newspapers and magazines tells the recipient that the consumer world is flush with people capable of acquiring all the goods, services and the lifestyle displayed. Perhaps this would be true today if the world that existed before the destruction of the middle / working class was launched by the three horseman of economic and working class apocalypse, Regan, Mulroney and Thatcher, and perpetuated by the Harpers, Fords and Canadian Federation of Independent Business type organizations. One way to quantify this is that based solely on the ads one could think that working people are winning and prospering when in every way working people see the level of prosperity that would be needed to access these goods and services intentionally eroded by government and business alike.
There is tragedy and irony in this in that the tragic and needless destruction of middle and working class prosperity is dictated first and foremost by right wing ideology and an unfounded fear that educated, represented and properly compensated working people demanding their fair share of the wealth are to be feared instead of warmly embraced by government and business. Ironically, along with the many working class lives destroyed by these ideological convulsions the very people paying untold millions on the advertising and marketing in hopes of attracting this financially impaired middle class consumer remain silent, or perhaps are complicit in the attacks, when it comes to destruction of working class lives and middle class incomes.
The commercialism associated with the high intensity consumerism of the latter part of each year brings focus and examination that further undermines the ideology that in the context of this letter damages and destroys countless lives while making less and less useful the traditional advertising that shows prosperity as if it is a part of our lives as it was when people across this nation proudly created countless items that said “Made in Canada”. As the advertisers still try and convince the millions now living in much diminished circumstances due to the intentional destruction of Canada’s manufacturing base that this imaginary life is easily accessible it makes it easier and easier to clearly see the failing of the policies that have not only destroyed livelihoods but will continue to do so in an ever widening degree until governments and corporations both realize that prosperity is only ever attained by the widest dispersal of wealth possible.
In 2012 as the Harpers, Fords, and in the US, the ever increasing trend to intolerance and right wing extremism sadly continue to be more and more emboldened one will have to wonder when the progressive change in direction started by the occupy movement will be joined by the same corporations that lose more and more customers as right wing government policy drives more and more workers out of work and less and less into the stores.
Dave Trumble, President Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Occupy Movement

Dear Editor;

Halifax and London ON have now joined the ranks of cities and towns forcibly removing “Occupy” protestors from their camps. Shame on all such cities and local lawmakers for removing people that are speaking up about economic inequality and the notion of fairness through fair and equitable economic legislative policy that will translate into fair distribution of wealth and services for all people! What a great concept this is; after all it is not without precedent when one takes the coloquial wisdom that governements were meant to govern in the best interests of all people.

The people that speak against the "Occupy" message of fairness will say that this is unfair to those that aspire to financially loftier places in our society and that their path to wealth must not be impeded by having to share their wealth. Critical thinking will demonstrate that the ongoing success of the rich and affluent is only as sustainable as the lives of those that now form the foundation of this wealth; the very workers and young people that will come to work in these same places and they deserve lives that are sustainable and provide the necessary income and protections in the workplace and in society to permit a "quality of life" that for some reason so many on the political right or within the corporate elite feel to be their personal responsibility to deny.

Those that have succumbed to this bashing of the protestors, workers and unions are actually subscribing to what might be the last bastion of where hate is tolerated. Society has rightfully stood up to all kinds of hate and prejudice yet our papers and radio are full of so called pundits and columnists who stand firm in their desire to deny people fairness in their workplaces. These same columnists and pundits even attract advertising dollars. Could the cities in question not at least support the Charter Rights in Canada and Constitutional Rights in America of the "Occupy" people to express the need for fairness in our society?

There will a percentage of the population who would have us believe that the protestors are nothing more than anarchists and that the camps are a coven of undesirable people. The same lawmakers that have forcibly closed the camps and those who believe they have some kind of moral authority to define an undesirable are the same people that label people who have become homeless due to job loss, job loss that was created by the horrific economic policies of right wing governments going back for decades.

The “Occupy” movement is a manifestation of factors and grievances that span a large part of the last forty years (particularly since the election of the three horsemen of economic destruction; Reagan, Mulroney and Thatcher) and these grievances have destroyed millions of middle class unionized jobs and public services such that the very fabric of our society is now at risk. The “Occupy” movement is the first grass roots movement since the 1960's to say corporate, financial and political leaders are wrong in almost everything they are doing and what is the reaction; not unexpected I would say! Reprehensible nonetheless when one considers that the same policy makers at fault are the very ones that suggest that free speech and the right to assemble are two of our most important rights and privileges yet they take these rights away from the “Occupy” movement.

The “Occupy” protest handle is perhaps the biggest deception of all as the people involved in the “Occupy” movement are a vanguard of social change; the change back towards a better world where a social contract between the citizenry, the government and corporations exists to ensure that the needs of all people are met and that no person is marginalized or left behind.

In Solidarity

Dave Trumble


Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Monday, October 31, 2011

2011/ 2012 Grey-Bruce Labour Council Winter Warmth Heating Challenge

Celebrating over 50 years of Building Communities

Dear Brothers and Sisters

On behalf of the Grey Bruce Labour Council I am challenging your union to match our contribution of $500.00 to the Winter Warmth campaign of the United Way of Bruce Grey. Winter Warmth provides support to residents who are unable to meet their utility costs. Last winter our local United Way, working with their partners / utilities and partner agencies, assisted many families in our region through the winter by assisting with utility bills and pre-empting service cuts that would have put families in the dark and the cold; including families with small children!

The need in 2011 / 2012 will be even greater with more job loss in our region and more and more families plunged into making the choice between eating and heating.

Our Local United Way has been a leader in this program and is committed to its success and for that reason the GBLC is spearheading a campaign to make sure there is as much money available as possible to meet the needs that exist in the community.

As a progressive labour movement we share an understanding that our responsibilities do not stop with our members. We have a community responsibility to see that our brothers and sisters in the community have their needs met also.

Please join with us in responding to community needs by supporting with a matching donation, or more, of $500.00 to the United Way of Bruce Grey campaign to meet the Winter Warmth needs of Bruce Grey. Over $2000.00 was collected at our dinner in 2011 with OSSTF, OECTA and the CAW leading the way.

We encourage you to bring your donation to the November 28th Labour Council Activist Dinner in Tara ON or to mail it to the Grey-Bruce Labour Council, C/O Mike Dunn, RR2, Tiverton ON N0G 2T0. For more information please do not hesitate to contact me:

In Solidarity

Dave Trumble

President, Grey Bruce Labour Council

Monday, October 10, 2011

Open Letter to New MPP's Lisa Thompson and Bill Walker,Oct. 10, 2011

Oct. 10, 2011

Open Letter to New MPP's in Huron-Bruce and Bruce-Grey, Owen Sound; Lisa Thompson and Bill Walker

Lisa / Bill;

There is little doubt that Tim Hudak's attack style politics and alignment with the behaviors of GTA Mayor, Rob Ford, cost the Ontario PC's a number of seats in the provincial election. Make no mistake neither the Grey Bruce Labour Council nor any organization that is inclusive and tolerant, such as the Trade Union Movement, wanted to see a Hudak government in Ontario.

If a handful of examples could tell the tale it would be Mr. Hudak's intentional and provocative use of the meaningless / offensive term Union boss (a Harrism), his desire to take Ontario to Wisconsin type of labour law where the rights to free collective bargaining are under threat, his lies about the public sector and his clear failure to grasp the concept of tolerance and understanding as noted in his homophobic comments the week before the election. It was clear from the outset that the deplorable behavior that defined the Harris government was embedded in the statements and policies described and vocalized by Mr. Hudak and this, too, was a contributor to the failure of the Hudak campaign. There are many more that could easily be inserted, but for purposes of this letter these will suffice.

Carol Mitchell lost her seat in Huron-Bruce for a number of reasons, but central to her loss was her inability to stand up to Mr. McGuinty and tell him that his choice on closing the jails in our region was wrong. She chose the route of political expedience and blind obedience instead of what was clearly needed; a person who would look her constituents in the eye and look out for their needs. I can't always say she failed in this regards, but the fact that she stood up for flawed policy around the jail closures demonstrated that she could not be counted on in the future.

I don't know what direction Mr. Hudak will take, but I think it is safe to say that if there are opportunities for him, within the new minority government, to execute any of his anti worker / anti union policies he will do so. Both of you have the opportunity to become educated and to work to counter what is a misguided and needlessly divisive agenda within your party. Bill has worked within a highly unionized environment and should be able to contradict the misconceptions that Mr. Hudak intentionally propagates. Lisa, coming from the private sector (likely non-union), may not have the same advantage, but in a riding where many constituents depend on their union for basic protections in the workplace she should have ample opportunity to reach out and learn about the union movement and how the union movement is an engine for positive social change at every level of society. After all a little history lesson will show that three of the highlights of labour law in Ontario happened when the labour movement worked with an Ontario PC government in the 70's and 80's to lay the ground work for the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act. Sadly some of the provisions in these acts have been attacked by governments over the last decade or two.

Please don't get the wrong idea; within the Labour Council there is no cheering section for any conservative party or government, but I can tell you that in the history of your party there is a much better place than where it is today. In fact, the energies of Labour are firmly focused on progressive politics where all people share in the wealth of our Region, Province and Nation. The various conservative entities today do not have that same commitment.

Perhaps, Bill and Lisa, you will realize the value of seeing past the conservative ideology and refusing to buy into the anti union / ant-worker rhetoric of the right and actually take the time to understand how valuable the union movement is and that in fact the protections put in place are a benefit to all of society.

One last note, the Grey-Bruce Labour Council is proud of our partnership with the progressive candidates at all levels. In this election it was Paul Johnstone and Grant Robertson and we will continue to work with them to enhance the lives of people across our region, but each of you has an opportunity to distance yourselves from the anti worker politics of Mr. Hudak and that will only help our region.

Dave Trumble, President, Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ontario Election

Dear Editor;

Letters about elections are often difficult as they are rarely non-partisan and it is their partisan nature that quickly turns readers off. The Grey Bruce Labour Council, as the local voice for working people, has always attempted to encourage voters to be informed voters and in these terms working people who deserve safe workplaces, fair wages, access to healthcare and education, access to free collective bargaining and a jobs strategy that keeps manufacturing jobs in Ontario to name just a few items should be clamoring for a clear accounting of positions supported by all candidates.

Along with the proposed jail closure in Walkerton and Owen Sound the current government has sat in power while 300,000 plus jobs have left Ontario; The challenger on the PC side of things, Tim Hudak, is attached to the legacy that is Mike Harris' and is already making noise about Wisconsin type attacks on public services, public sector workers and worker rights in general. Without a doubt these observations are partisan, but the primary reason for noting them is that voters need to ask themselves if they have voted Liberal or PC in the past if in fact this is where they want to continue to go. It is clear from recent statements that in Huron-Bruce that all three candidates from the main parties, NDP, Liberal, PC, continue to identify with ongoing support for Bruce Power and the future of the site and this is crucial to our entire region along with the future prosperity of Ontario.

On behalf of workers all across our region and in the context of how important all elections are lets make Ontario a success. This is best done by putting people first and putting people on the path to prosperity by once again establishing a framework where all people share in this prosperity.

Dave Trumble


Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labour Day

In response to Labour’s Day, Labour Day 2011, the emotions and opinions will be as varied as the number of picnics and parades. These opinions are likely to fall into three significant categories; support, ambivalence and opposition.
Support is pretty easy to understand as it is founded in the inherent understanding that every single advance or improvement that workers enjoy was brought about by workers and their progressive partners and no one else. A very brief representation of these improvements would be the 40 hour week, week-ends, health and safety legislation and the right to organize with access to union representation.
Ambivalence is the domain of a large piece of the population that for any number of reasons have conflicts in their view of unions and worker’s rights. There is no way possible to address this group in a letter to the editor.
The opposition camp, while easy to recognize, is not understandable on any level but greed and avarice. For decades a social contract between government, employers and workers existed that evolved into a relationship that provided benefit to all people. In the last 30 years the social contract has been ruptured such that government no longer acts in the interest of working people, but acts in the interests of corporate Canada (except of course when these same governments dump money into communities to gain votes at election time). Those that will discuss Labour’s celebration with disdain do so not to demonstrate a conviction, but for the clear purpose of seeking the undermining of the Labour movement to deny the working class / middle class their share of the wealth of a land where no one should ever live with poverty, experience unemployment or any form of social prejudice.
Long live the ideals of a Labour Movement where social justice is the pillar of existence.

Dave Trumble
President, Grey Bruce Labour Council

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 27, 2011 A New Form of Communication

August 27, 2011 A New Form of Communication

Dear Editor;

Jack Layton has left us, but not his message of hope and his passion for the youth of Canada. In an event that engaged young people in our region in a celebration of social justice that honored Jack’s message and passion Unionrocks, the Grey-Bruce Labour Council and OPSEU 260 brought the band “Anti-Flag” and three local bands to the Harb in Owen Sound on August 25th.

To entertain, to fundraise and to raise awareness would be a few reasons that musical festivals are put on by dedicated volunteers. The event at the Harb accomplished all of the foregoing, but it is set apart by a call to action by the bands and the promoters and supporters; a call for appreciation and a clear recognition that the collective good of people is the most important aspect in society and far out strips the current societal infatuation with feral and uncontrolled capitalism.

Unionrocks was the keystone to the event, but Unionrocks is in fact translating a new language. The future of the Labour Movement, progressive politics and a just society is already in the hands of our young people, but often what is missed is how to reach the hearts and minds of these very people. Unionrocks, headed up and founded by Brad Drake and supported by the youth in our region and the Labour Council, has found one of the very best ways to engage the future of the Movement. This was ably demonstrated on August 25th and in fact the integration of youth, socially responsible music and socially responsible organizations like the NDP, the Labour Council and Unionrocks may well be the way to engage the next wave of activists. Although the music is different the activists of 40 years ago found strength and support in some of the music of the day. Neil Young, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, to name a few artists spoke of the spirit of protest and told the world of the oppressive policies of past governments that hurt and killed many from Kent State to Vietnam.

For decades Unions and organizations have approached social activism with vigor, and tools we have become accustomed too, and many victories for working people have been won this way. The time is upon us to use the lessons of the last four or five decades and hand in hand with the young people of today ,in a way that makes sense to them, attack the social disparities of today’s society. Unionrocks is forging a new way of communication and in fact it will be the integration of music and youth going forward that will put those in our movement today to work with a new wave of activists to take back our society from irresponsible corporations and the right wing legislative agenda that diminishes all humanity for the benefit of the very few.

In a week where, Jack Layton, one of the most influential Canadian voices for fairness and social justice left us one festival or celebration of convictions and beliefs that would have made Jack smile still took place and it took place in our own backyard. We need hope that there is a quality future for our young people, that there will be strong middle class and that the collective good of all, including a strong and vibrant trade union movement will be clearly in our future.

Many thanks to all who made the concert a success,

Dave Trumble, President Grey-Bruce Labour Council

In Solidarity

Dave Trumble


Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Credibility and Credit Ratings

Aug. 6, 2011

“American credit rating to AA+ instead of AAA”; too bad the ratings agency of Standard and Poor’s does not rate credibility! The place that America finds itself in, and sadly many of America’s friends, has much more to with credibility than credit worthiness. Supported in priciple by the other two horsemen of the apocalypse of the middle class, Thatcher and Mulroney, Ronald Reagan fired all the air traffic controllers in America for going on strike in 1981. Of course Reagan chose to take no notice of any issues that the controllers may have had, but behaved without conscience and the action predicted the ensuing 30 years of attacks on workers and public services.

Spawned from this behavior is free trade where corporations have more rights than people, IMF and World Bank policies that force privatization of public services in countries before lifesaving financial aid is provided, the belief that the only thing that matters is the free market, the purchase of the media to create a hospitable place for governments, corporations and the rich to attack the rights of the middle class and unions, the empowerment of organizations such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business that have in reality no real reason to attack their middle class customers or unions but have been swept up in the decades of needless attacks and unnecessary mudslinging and amongst a list far too long for this letter a list of politicians such as Bush and Bush, Gingrich, Harper, Harris and even those that pretended to have a social conscience like Blair. Of course left of this list are the plethora radio personalities such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck who have made a living by doing nothing other spewing venom that serves the interest of the right and no one else.

If credibility were the measure by which a nation’s credit rating was established a lot of problems would exist for countries married to this mantra created 30 years ago. AA+ would very likely be but a hopeful target as the countries married to free trade and the free market have pronounced for thirty years that prosperity will abound if the free market is left to regulate itself and workers are provided no avenue to protect themselves or the pensions they have contributed to for a lifetime of work. Well for those that believe that economic prosperity is around the corner due to the free market perhaps you can loan 700 Billion dollars to the people who have been without work for years, can’t even hope for the slightest chance of dignity in retirement as companies and governments rape pension plans in some ridiculous battle cry of austerity and to name but one more of an endless list: hope for a better life for their children.

Well, we could hope that the equivalent 700 Billion dollars in the US and billions elsewhere that was found to line the pockets of the architects of the most recent economic meltdown in the US and around the world could be found to help families and workers, but this is not likely as those that are “one” with the policies of deregulation, privatization, free trade and free market are seemingly immune to the calls for help from the very people who for some reason keep electing them. Yes, credibility would be a good measure of credit worthiness and that credibility would only see it’s way back to AAA when elected officials acted truthfully and thoughtfully on behalf of all people and when the people that actually have the power took the time to vote in people that put all of us ahead of the very plans that were laid out for all to see when the three horsemen of the middle class apocalypse began their mission of destroying the middle class and trade unionism.

In Solidarity

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A July 1st Canada Day Letter

One-hundred and forty four birthdays is nothing to be trifled about. After all in that time a nation was built. The nation’s history is not only the 144 years since confederation, but it is the history of the First Nations Peoples who were here for millennia before confederation. For a very large part of the 144 years since confederation the well being of the entire society was a priority. It is also my understanding of First Nations peoples that the well being of the entire society is a priority.

I am extremely proud to be a Canadian and I know I have a lot of company. In our history we have given the world medical and technical breakthroughs, amazing statesmen, the lives of our sons and daughters as we never shirked the call to fight the good fight and for much of our existence the visible record of trying to make our home the envy of the world. In that struggle to be the envy of the world Canadian workers and a progressive political inclination secured sound legislation that entrenched rights for all people that enhanced their work and personal life and empowered people. Further to that this same inclination said let’s be good member of the community of nations, but we must take the same collective will that built the nation and translate it into ensuring the collective well being.

In reflecting on Canada on the 144th birthday of confederation we abound with nature’s gifts, wonderful people and a pride in our identity that is as strong as any. What seems to be missing is the collective good as a priority. Legislatively we are subject to needless attacks on public sector workers and unions who have managed to bargain a piece of the wealth while those that are in the non-unionized workforce attack these same people instead of embracing their recipe for success and demanding their rights to unionize and bargain collectively. Somewhat contrary, in my opinion, to the foundations that Canada was forged by there seems this recent inclination to push for the rights of the few compared to securing and enhancing the rights and well being of the collective body of the country. No clearer example of this exists in electing Harper in Ottawa, Ford in Toronto and perhaps Hudak in Ontario. Each of these married to the failed policies that caused the most recent global economic meltdown and each is vociferous proponent of attacks on workers and the rights of workers.

If we all take a minute to think of our roots in the weeks after our July 1st celebration and in this light seek to abandon the free market mentality that seeks out survival of the fittest and destroys an inherent civility that has existed from our earliest days and instead look to support and empower each other then the time of collective well being should hopefully return and we once again will ourselves aim to tell the world that we are the envy of all who gaze upon us.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Canadian Labour Movement in 2011

May 9th to May 13th, 2011 witnessed the tri-annual constitutional convention of the Canadian Labour Congress and the record of that convention is part of many postings and documents throughout the world by now. The purpose of this blog is not to duplicate this, but is to remind Canadians that outside of the variety of reporting that is open to viewing the voices of 3.2 million Canadian Workers have been heard through the delegates in attendance. No one can say that the Trade Unionists that attended agreed on any every single point, but that in itself is a plus in that this debate defines the passion of those that attended.

The delegates that participated debated policy documents such as Good Jobs for All, Reclaiming our Space and Building on our Success; Mobilizing for our Future and many resolutions that talk to all manner of socially responsible initiative. The process of debate to arrive at a direction for the congress, the union affiliates and the workers represented within is clearly a departure from the corporate establishment and their political affiliations. Within the structures aligned with the corporate establishment debate is discouraged and in fact their direction is usually based on a dictatorial process with little or no socially responsible tilt unless it is done so for the express purpose of hiding another more malevolent agenda.

Hot on the heels of electing a conservative majority federal government by a minority of Canadians and electing a progressive official opposition in unprecedented numbers the assembled delegates are under no illusions of the work that lay before them. One hundred and two New Democratic Members of Federal Parliament will ensure that for the first time in history that the recent complicity of liberal and conservative philosophy will be unable to hide the heinous and despicable agenda that will negatively affect working people throughout Canada. The delegates to the convention know that the conservative policies will be of no value to workers and will only work to aid and abet corporate Canada. In this context little was uttered in the convention hall that was not prefaced with how tough the next four years will be with such regressive individuals as Harper, Baird and Flaherty in the legislative driver's seat. In other words, we are entering the future according to the philosophy of fear, aggression, union bashing, and needless attacks on social programs, secrecy and just about any other thing that is contrary to what Canada and Canada's reputation was built on.

Organized Labour has always had at its core the desire to be inclusive and to ensure that no one is left behind and the convention delegates never once veered from this core set of values. It is with commitment to these values that the delegates did all they could to set a path for the next three years that will try and bring socially responsible balance to the national scene of conservative policies that will no doubt hurt workers and to set forth an action plan to make protection of worker's rights and the vulnerable in our society as much of a reality as possible.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Closing Jails In Owen Sound and Walkerton

Like it was yesterday! I remember Dalton McGuinty saying on the night he was first elected that he was going to treat the public service with respect; the respect it had so lacked under the Mike Harris regime of "scorched earth". Here we are years later and McGuinty has heaped out a lot of respect. Not much of it towards the public service and the thousands of employees that provide the services that many of us need everyday, but respect nonetheless.

McGuinty has respected corporations through billions of dollars in tax cuts that don't create jobs. He has respected Samsung and sold off jobs for Canadians in the energy sector. He has respected unfair trade deals that provide a "no" manufacturing jobs strategy for Ontario. He has respected the lack of democracy in legislation that prevents people from fighting against the location of wind farms. He has respected replacement in that he stood up against anti-replacement worker (scabs) legislation. He has respected legislation that may remove from workers the very ability to receive instruction in matters of health and safety from workers and amongst the many dollops of respect he has handed out he has now handed out respect for short term financial gain and decided to pound rural Ontario again by closing down jails in Walkerton and Owen Sound.

Although Tim Hudak should scare us all, McGuinty's future for Ontario is seemingly no less bleak in some respects. Tell McGuinty to live up to a couple of his promises and that one of them needs to be respect for the public service and hopefully that will translate into hope for rural Ontario. McGuinty needs to be told that his choices are just wrong and if we can't reach him through fighting back right now, lets tell him and the scary alternative (Hudak) that we don't trust either of them and in October lets get Ontario to a place where perhaps the progressive alternatives in the legislature will have the balance of power.

In Solidarity

Dave Trumble


Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sisters and Brothers in Japanese Nuclear Plants

The events taking place in the Japanese Nuclear plants are not to be minimized and to do so would dishonor our sisters and brothers working to bring the plants into a controlled state. Despite all this thousands of dedicated and trained professionals maintain and operate close to 400 plants the world over and do so to support energy demand the world over while offering the best alternative to fossil fuels and providing economical base load generation. Hopefully the media will get this message and begin objective reporting of the situation in Japan's plants.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Elections, Get the facts

Dear Editor;

It is natural for the party in power to garner most of the attention of the media and the letter writers and in the case of the Ontario liberals, who have (amongst a litany of mistakes) done deep and significant damage to rural healthcare, manufacturing jobs and foisted the ill conceived green energy act on the citizens of Ontario, they should expect no less consideration.

Now that an election year is upon us in Ontario it is not likely to be very long before the campaign noise gets very loud. In the early part of this year I have noted what to me should be a concern for anyone that can remember the Harris years in Ontario; I get a sense that people are entirely focused on any alternative to McGuinty. Just as a reminder, the Harris years embodied, to name but a few items, the destruction of vast public services, the sell off of public institutions, attacks on worker rights on an almost daily basis, attacks on the poor, appalling funding cuts to education, the attempted destruction of universal and public healthcare and a variety of manufactured crisis.

I am no fan of the McGuinty liberals, but remain steadfastly concerned that the Hudak conservatives are in all likelihood a through back to the Harris years (Wisconsin mean anything to anyone?). I can't offer a political suggestion that answers all concerns, but in what will be the ever increasing noise level of a campaign year please don't ever forget that at least as many of the McGuinty disasters were empowered by the travesty that was the Harris tories as they were of their own making and design. When at long last we make the trip to the ballot box be the person who understands what the parties stand for and be the one who has asked about energy, hospitals, jobs, pensions, schools, worker rights, etc.. By the way, not bad advice if the federal election heads our way in the next while.

In Solidarity
Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Regarding the March 5th Jim Merriam column "Facing unions a hard fact in tackling debt".

Dear Editor;

Regarding the March 5th Jim Merriam column "Facing unions a hard fact in tackling debt". The Supreme Court has determined that the right of workers to bargain collectively is so important to society as a whole that it is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There are millions of Canadians that gain or sustain their voice in the workplace and on the electoral stage due to this Charter right.

Mr. Merriam is typical of those that see unions as some kind of bogeyman and in their haste to make their point do little research and hope that if they dump enough in the way of inaccurate fear and loathing in their medium that they will sustain the rest of their ilk in their ignorance of the century and half of social progress that the Trade Union Movement is responsible for.

When the Jim Merriam's of the world take a day off or get paid for a statutory holiday or enter a workplace that provides protection for workers through various laws and legislations please remember that each of these was not brought to him or them by any politician or business person; it was brought about by social progressives of which trade unionism is a pillar. Oh yes, the vitriolic rantings about public sector unions being responsible for budget deficits; perhaps it is time to ask why against over 20 years of advice by the Trade Union movement that governments have handed out billions to corporations while sending millions of jobs offshore and have reduced the very tax base that supports our communites.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

JIM MERRIAM: Facing unions a hard fact in tackling debt
Posted 1 day ago

No matter what labour activists might tell you, the so-called assault on public-sector unions in the United States, particularly the State of Wisconsin, is about more than workers' right to bargain collectively.
You've no doubt heard of the battle. It has been marked by union activists occupying government buildings and members of the opposition Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate hiding outside the state to avoid facing a vote on the matter. (Great leadership on display there.)
In part, the fight is about enormous deficits, which have been rung up by governments with a tendency to buckle to the demands, monetary or otherwise, of any special-interest group big enough to hold a one-band parade. It's also about freedom for workers, but not in the way being spouted by the unionistas.
Before getting into that we should note that the Dalton Gang won't be bringing an antiunion movement to Ontario anytime soon.
The province's actions make its support of unions abundantly clear. A public-sector wage freeze announced last year applied to everyone except unionized employees. Plus the "Education Premier" has been in bed with the teachers' unions since taking office. Hence the pansion of all-day kindergarten (cost $1.5-billion a year) to serve a population with the attention span of, well of a kindergarten student, in a province that is broke.
Back to the subject of unions and workers' rights in Yankeeland, let's consider union membership as one of those rights. In a free society you'd think workers would be allowed to decide for themselves whether or not to join a union. However, that freedom only exists as long as a union is outside looking in. Once a union is certified to represent workers, employees are forced to join if they want a job.
But that's not the biggest problem with unions today. In any company-union bargaining situation, the company must act responsibly with the union able to say or do almost anything to keep their members in line behind the organizers and/or the bargaining committee. Hence union leaders have been known to promise a mountain to their members, knowing a molehill might not even be within their grasp.
Outside the public sector, unions often don't achieve much for their workers, particularly in the area of wage increases. (Notable exceptions include auto workers and some others.)
In many instances, when companies face a newly certified bargaining committee the strategy is simple: The cost of the certification to the company is to net out at zero. So all the costs resulting from certification must come from the pre-union pay increase workers would have received.
So a planned 3.5% increase might be reduced to 1.5% with the other 2% going to cover these new costs.
Putting those issues aside for the moment, the aforementioned deficits eventually will force government versus union disputes to the surface everywhere.
Although the U.S. leads the world in deficit accumulation, Canada is working hard to catch up. In fact, this country's debt is north of $560 billion and rising by the second. (Check it out at's debt stands at a staggering $219-billion.
Something must be done about this and that something will include painful cuts involving workers in the public sector, whether Dalton McGuinty likes it or not.
When governments in this country develop the stones to join the battle against deficits, the union issue automatically will be attached as an interesting sideshow.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Union Made

Canadian and American conservative policy makers fear the title "Danger Educated Union Member" more than almost anything else. What do they really fear? Perhaps the realization that if the workforce was educated, protected and surrounded by protections that ensure respect and dignity that basic conservative dogma would be seen for what it is; the politics and policies of fear and deception.

Conservatives often tie disagreeing with conservative dogma and policy as being unpatriotic or for some strange reason a risk to public and national security. Can't you just imagine the conservative think tank that comes up with this? It must go something like this; "let’s make sure we scare everyone so that no matter what perversion of the truth we perpetuate there will be that single moment of hesitation that will give us just enough time and opportunity to prevent any opportunity for concentrated resistance". That concentrated resistance, if it gained traction, would in short order collapse the conservative dogma to what it really is, a sham perpetuated on people to gain control over people and the economy.

For the years after the Second World War, up until about the year the first free trade agreement was signed in 1988, Union Made was like a modern day designer label and when it said Union Made in Canada, America etc. people were proud to wear it. That pride was indeed attached to the fact that people could touch a product that they may have actually made or at least the factory was in their town. Further it not only had a bit of a personal piece to it, but this label also had attached to it the title of prosperity and sustainability as people worked in their community and were compensated sufficiently to purchase the products they made and to support a middle class life. This represents nothing complex, but what could be called the dream of a middle class existence or to be entirely colloquial; "the American Dream".

Union Made is not only a part of our shared history when we look at product, but in fact represents such things as the 40 hour work week, health and safety law, violence in the workplace law and pay equity to name but a few.

Conservative dogma is hard at work in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio and has been hard at work in Ontario and Alberta and they use it to talk to the issue of budget deficits and that to deal with the deficits they have to attack workers and of course particularly unionized workers. The simple reality is it is these same conservatives that closed down our factories and destroyed the tax base while recklessly handing out corporate tax cuts that want to punish the workers.

Union Made is not only a necessity for a fair and compassionate society, but in light of the extremes of current conservatism as set out by American republicans, British conservatives, Canadian conservatives, etc. it is the life breath of all workers as these workers who walk the line do so not only for their immediate sisters and brothers, but for their sisters and brothers in all walks of life.

Dave Trumble
Labour Council

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Lies Told About Unions

Anti-Union people are predictable and so ideologically focused that really reaching them with accurate information is all but impossible. Finding anti union people is usually pretty easy as they reside in the homes of intolernace like the conservative party in Canada and the republican party in America.

The first lie is that Unions have outgrown their usefulness and that current legislation will protect workers. When was the last time that any representative of an elected government made a choice to better lives and the workplace for working people entirely of their own free will. The only time this type of legislation is actually provided any opportunity to mature is when the Labour Movement pushes the issue. A very breif list would contain, occupational health and safety law, employment standards, workers compensation and free collective bargaining.

The second lie is that Unions only seek to better the life of their own Members. The collective agreements built on the strength of free collective bargaining not only better the lives of Members in the bargaining unit, but add stength and vitality to communities as people have the ability to buy what they make. In addition Unions have a 100 plus year history of aiding the United Way and decades of contribuiting charitable dollars in every single community in which they reside.

The third lie is that government deficits justify attacking the Labour Movement and Unions. Government deficits are just that; government deficits and are never created by Unions and working people, but are created through the ridiculous mantra of corporate tax cuts and excessive spending on initiatives things like jet planes instead of the basic needs of the people like healthcare and education. Add to this the stupidity associated with free trade and a total lack of a manufacturing jobs policy in most of the OECD and you find vast amounts of tax revenue evaporating.

The fourth lie of what could be a list of dozens is Unions make a country less competitive. Competitive advantage is not obtained by demoralizing and demeaning workers it is obtained by working towards prosperity and security for all. The only form of sustainable prosperity has its roots in respect and dignity for all workers and that begins and with safe workplaces where workers are paid a living wage.

The perpetuation of the myths created by the right is easily found when the province of Ontario plans to enact essential service legislation for the TTC, but ignore the call of thousands to enact anit-scab and card check legislation. Coincidence; unlikley / ideologically motivated; for sure.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Friday, February 4, 2011

Protests and Rallies

Protests and Rallies
To-day a newscast anchor asked one of the best questions I have heard for quite some time; he asked what it would take for the viewers to march in the streets demanding perhaps as much as a change in government. The question is related to the marchers in Egypt and the courageous protesters demanding Mubarak step down.
I inferred in the question that perhaps he thought that things had to get worse than they are now to motivate the viewers to march. As I thought about this I wondered what is keeping people off the streets in Canada right now or in the case of the news anchor, the United States. It goes without saying that Canada is in a much better position than Egypt or perhaps almost every country on Earth. The United States would not be far behind. Despite the obvious differences in the state of Egypt as compared to Canada it would be my opinion that we in Canada are well beyond the basic prerequisites required to hit the streets.
If we examine what Canadians have lost and what is under attack it would seem that there is ample reason to hit the streets in huge numbers. If we only look at the time period since the inception of the first free trade deal in 1988 Canadians have lost millions of well paid (mostly unionized) jobs in the manufacturing sector, the agenda of privatization and deregulation has jeopardized our healthcare and turned many of our public services needlessly into for profit enterprises and put at risk pensions and the future dignity of workers throughout the country. Without going over the top on this issue it is the bizarre ideology of leaders married to the current obtuse version of conservatism that seems to preach a “screw the worker” ideology and a form of aggressive behaviour that puts market and market forces as the most important aspect of their belief that provides the basis for workers considering hitting the streets.
I, along, with millions of Canadian workers (and Americans as they have experienced similar if not worse degradation) should find our current situation more than enough to go to the streets and that is the answer that the news anchor should get. Of course Ontario Workers have been here before during the Harris years, but it may be time for another version of the same thing.
Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Saturday, January 22, 2011

If Nuclear and Coal are phased out, Letter to the Editor, Jan 20 2011

If Nuclear and Coal are phased out

Letter to the Editor, Jan 20 2011

Dear Editor;

I have yet to understand why the wind power lobby sees the phasing out of nuclear and coal as integral to the energy future of Ontario and beyond. No responsible or informed discussion on wind or renewable energy sources in general gives the slightest bit of credibility to the position that the electricity needs of Ontario could ever be met by these sources alone. Even with any amount of anticipated conservation added into this the amount of electricity demand will always far exceed the available power from renewables and conservation. In fact, traditional methods of producing electricity produce thousands of megawatts more than renewables each and every day in Ontario. Today (Jan 20th for example) wind was responsible for 90 megawatts of supply to the grid while nuclear was producing well in excess of 10,000 megawatts without one gram of greenhouse gases as a by-product.

The simple mathematics of supply and demand underscore the minimal impact that wind has on the daily electricity needs and this does not even take into account the cost of wind energy at $140 plus dollars per megawatt or solar at 400 plus dollars per megawatt hour. Nuclear power is generally produced at a cost in the range of 40-60 dollars per megawatt hour. Make no mistake that once the health effects of wind turbines are taken into effect and set backs are legislated many in the debate see wind and other renewables as having some role to play in the electricity mix in Ontario, but at no time will wind or renewables meet the base load needs of the province.

The health debate will never go away, but in simplest terms the production of electricity from nuclear energy is the most regulated industry in the world and year over year self regulates itself to less than 1% of allowable emissions to the environment. I wonder if the hundreds of trucks hauling the offshore made parts for windmills ever keep to less than 1% of their allowable emissions. CANDU Reactors and all their components are over 95% sourced in Canada and have mitigated hundreds of millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases since they first came on line. Almost all parties understand the controversy over the use of coal, but to suggest that Ontario will follow a path of renewables, wind and gas instead of converting existing coal plants to the use of biomass is another form of irresponsible energy policy in Ontario. Thankfully the government of Ontario recognizes the need for Nuclear Power, but it is time make it clear that wind and renewables are not the answer and will only be a small contributor to Ontario’s energy future. Casually disposing of Nuclear and Coal without looking at alternative uses for existing coal plants and thinking that wind and renewables will take their place is a guarantee for an Ontario with no future economic prosperity.

Dave Trumble

President Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Below Please find Last week's letter that the above is written in response too.

Phase out nukes, coal
Letters to the editor

Dear Editor,

If we take seriously the protection of human health we have to phase-out coal and nuclear-powered electricity.

Coal kills hundreds of Ontarians and triggers over 120,000 illnesses (e. g., asthma attacks) annually. It is also the most climate-destructive fuel around, emitting twice as much carbon as natural gas does. Whether the issue is respiratory disease or global warming, coal is a catastrophe.

But nuclear is extremely unhealthy as well. A scientific review by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment found all functioning reactors release radioactive materials on a routine basis.

A 2008 German government study showed children (younger than five) living within five kilometers of a nuclear plant are at elevated risk for leukemia. And Scientific American recently reported nukes harm the climate: "Nuclear power results in up to 25 times more carbon emissions than wind energy, when reactor construction and uranium refining and transport are considered."

But to phase-out conventional power we need to use less energy and switch over to renewables, including wind turbines.

Lately there's been a certain amount of anti-wind sentiment from some Ontarians. This is unfortunate because turbines are a far healthier source of power than their competition.

Dr. Arlene King, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, released a scientific literature review on wind and health in October, 2009. In the document she explains that there are anecdotal reports of symptoms such as sleep disturbance and headaches but "there is no scientific evidence, to date, to demonstrate a causal association between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects."

In May, 2010, Dr. King released the results of a second scientific literature review. Again she concluded that "the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.

But what about concerns besides noise?

A recent (January, 2010) scientific review from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control examined claims that turbines might create electromagnetic fields, potentially cause epilepsy, and possibly throw ice. The study's conclusions:

* Wind turbines are not significant sources of EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure."
* Shadows caused by wind turbine rotors can be annoying, but are not likely to cause epileptic seizures at normal operational speeds..."

* Risk of injury [from ice throw] can be minimized with setbacks of 200 to 500 m..."

The verdict: the current science -from Ontario's top doctor --suggests wind turbines do not threaten human health. Unlike coal, they are not destroying our climate and killing hundreds of Canadians every year. Unlike nuclear, they are not associated with cancer -nor do they condemn the next thousand generations to the menace of radioactive waste.

Gideon Forman Executive Director Canadian

Association of Physicians for the Environment

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Attacks on the last line of Defence, the Trade Unions

Attacks on the last line of Defence, the Trade Unions
Dateline 1981; Ronald Reagan terminates unionized air traffic controllers rather than negotiate. Dateline 1984; Margaret Thatcher rips into the coal miners of Great Britain rather than negotiate. Did the Members of PATCO and the NUM enter into strikes that could be considered unlawful, yes? Did they have real grievances, yes? Did either of the strikes warrant ongoing vilification of the Union Movement, No, but at the time it was convenient to attack Unions while the first entry into the long term plan to destroy the middle class and unions known as free trade was being considered and negotiated. Years later this vilification is played out constantly in right wing and corporate propaganda and today is part of a far more sophisticated approach; an approach that finds fuel in the vitriolic outbursts of regressive people such as former Ontario Premier Mike Harris and the new Governor of Ohio John Kasich, the Canadian federal government of Stephen Harper and organizations like the “tea party” (lead by television celebrity, not politician, Sarah Palin).
The broad approach, or as some incorrectly say populist, attack on unions by the right wing is actually quite simple to define and analyze. As government policies and legislators became the servants of corporations and in this made the choice to defy one of the most well known quotes in American history, “government of the people for the and by the people” they and their corporate benefactors had to work diligently to remove obstacles to their grand plan. Unions, along with a free and progressive media would certainly not be conducive to running an economy that catered to the needs of the corporations. In fact all that is connected with a progressive media and educated and unionized workforce is entirely contradictory to government policy supporting capital and caring little for people or the environment.
Let’s not forget that unions have been at the heart of progressive legislative change for over 150 years. A few examples of such legislation would be minimum wage, pensions, universal healthcare, public education, occupational health and safety, paid vacations, the 40 hour work week (unions; the people that brought you the week-end), and recognition of paid statutory holidays. Would it make sense, based on this wonderful and amazing record of social responsibility, for those who have chosen to cripple the middle class to leave the Trade Union Movement untouched? The Trade Union Movement is clearly a threat to the right wing corporate agenda in that not only does the movement stand for social responsibility in contradiction to the policies of capital but is perhaps the only self funded organization to take on the role of opposing the attack on working people by government and corporations. Many progressive pieces of legislation were enacted while the revenues to operate a Union were still collected from Members by elected / volunteer Stewards. Since the late 1930’s with the introduction of the legislation that would lead to the “Rand” Formula and automatic deduction of Union dues the self funded status of the Trade Union Movement is truly the last line of defence for working people (Harris at one time suggested he would attack this in Ontario and the “right to work” states already undercut this basic human right, the right to collective bargaining). The Trade Union Movement has many a partner in the fight to sustain jobs, a middle class and the basic social infrastructure that made the national caring societies that used to exist before the blind and myopic worship of capital became the very credo of so many governments, corporations and (sadly) individuals.
The sophisticated attacks on the movement are aimed at removing from view the progressive nature of unions and to corrupt the information such that people are lead to believe that instead of being an advocate for workers and positive social change that somehow unions are greedy. I will defy for all time anyone to equate any union activity with greed when greed is defined each and every day in the financial districts of places like New York, London and Toronto where the financial meltdown of late 2008 was orchestrated and the behaviours that lead to it condoned and in fact designed.
The Trade Union Movement, of which I am a proud member, deserves the time to be understood and to be respected as should it ever be removed or so badly damaged it no longer functions the corporations will have free rein in the world. If you think the near free reign is not possible just look at the loss of Union density since the afore mentioned attacks in 1981 and 1984 and right up to, and including, the latest campaign of misinformation focused on public service workers.
In Solidarity
Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council