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.