Friday, December 28, 2012

Kincardine News, In Reply to Brian Lilley’s “Another Opinion”; A long overdue look at where union dues go is needed for Canadians-Dec 24, 2012

Dear Editor; In his use of the term “Union Boss” Mr. Lilley has tipped his hand early. He immediately exposes his lack of knowledge of the union movement or perhaps his open intention to be provocative and display his ideological contempt for the very movement he declares some understanding of. The term “Union Boss” is not in any way an accurate description of people freely elected by the membership or an elected representation of the membership of the union to positions of leadership. Upon election these officials are governed by a constitution and by-laws that are approved by methods similar to that for the above noted elections. The constitution and by-laws dictate the disclosure of the information, including financial affairs, about the union and if the members wish to know this information then attending membership meetings is required. Lilley would also have people believe that unions have no requirement to report anything to financial regulators or agencies and that in some fashion they are above the law. Of course this is not true and unions, as employers, report as any other employer must do. As if he has some domain over their use Lilley’s article is decorated with the language of disclosure and fairness as those of his ilk are pre-programmed to use in this way in any discussion where socially responsible organizations that ally themselves with working people and their needs are involved. The use of this language is in common use as it is believed that it engenders support for people like Lilley who under the cloak of this language are working to undermine the effectiveness of socially progressive organizations such as unions. Lilley quotes things like 86 % of union members want to know what is going on with their union dues without setting the context of the question. As it so often is the question is open to perversion in that his statistic is likely correct, but he never notes what percentage of the 86% already receive this information by attending membership meetings of their unions. Sadly there are a percentage of union members that can’t be bothered to attend membership meetings and they will not likely be offered financial information and this is no different than for any organization where financial records are supplied. Lilley expresses surprise, even to some degree a sense of indignation, that unions and unions leaders are ready to fight back on this legislation. Lilley’s opinion makes the assumption, or at least he conveniently ignores the fact, that there are no other attacks of any kind on trade unions when in fact the implementation or the planning of attacks on the trade union movement is the current initiative of choice for countless leaders such as Harper, Wall of Saskatchewan and McGuinty of Ontario. Harper’s conservatives have legislated away collective bargaining rights for postal workers and Air Canada employees, Wall is beginning to make noise about the repugnant right to work legislation seen in Michigan and McGuinty has launched an attack on the bargaining rights of teachers that could reach all public service union members. The lack of government will to do anything to protect charter rights to free collective bargaining and the abandonment of the Electro-Motive workers in London and other manufacturing sector workers only adds to the list of attacks on workers. Even the most simple minded would see why the ideologically driven bill C- 377, in concert with the foregoing, would drive union leaders to speak and act strongly against bill C-377. Lilley expresses what has been done in other countries relative to similarities to bill C-377; this is perhaps the final undoing of his position. No trade unionist in their right mind would ever look to America as the benchmark. Beginning with Regan America leads the western industrialized world in attacks on the union movement and the destruction of the working and middle class. Not to mention the fact that the rules of engagement as found in labour law legislation are entirely different in America than in Canada thus negating any reasonable comparison. Despite what people read in the typical right wing controlled media, standards of living have always fallen when the trade union movement has been diminished. Lilley’s attempt to coast his position forward on the typical right wing ideological framework fails on all levels and is easily seen for what it is; another opinion veiled in the right wing rhetoric that would hopefully sway those unfamiliar with the real issues at stake on to their side and thus to, under false pretense, try and get people to believe that bill C-377 is anything other than what it is; “another cowardly federal lead attack on workers” There is only one fair process and that is meeting across the table where the charter right to free collective bargaining must take place and must be preserved no matter what the price and governing by ideology is eradicated. Dave Trumble, Kincardine

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 In Review

Another year is drawing to a close and tradition insists that 2012 is up for review. The year is bracketed by two hopeful events. The first of these events was the rally by thousands of workers and the efforts of trade unions in January in support of sustaining the jobs at London’s Electro-Motive plant and in support of the Charter right to free collective bargaining. These efforts fell to the destructive forces of neo-liberalism, unbridled greed and globalization. The end of year and ongoing event, with the outcome still ahead of us, is the “Idle No More” campaign. In light of this First Nations lead campaign the face of seeking social justice and a civil society may change forever. Unions have witnessed the significant successes of government, corporate forces and right wing extremist media working tirelessly to disenfranchise workers and the union representatives that work in the interests of all workers. Some of the rallying cries of the attacks on workers in 2012 were austerity, pensions, public service employee compensation, right to work, return to work legislation, bill 115 and bill 377. Regan, Thatcher and Mulroney represent the pioneers of the modern day method of governing by ideology and the politics of division instead of governing in the collective good. The present day ilk of Regan, Thatcher and Mulroney have far exceeded the move to the right that these well known predecessors could have hoped for and it is in this context that this annual review is done. In 2012 we hear of the likes of Walker of Wisconsin, McGuinty of Ontario, Stephen Harper, Snyder of Michigan and the never ending demands for austerity measures. In looking at this list we see the paradigm shift that now sets 2012 apart. The approach by government and corporations is not to negotiate with workers or meet in the realm of free collective bargaining or try to find anything close to a position where collaboration may be reached. Instead it is, in 2012, to take the most repugnant nature of the right wing belligerently forward by cowardly changing legislation to undermine any and all organizations that may stand in opposition to right wing oppression of the rights of working people and the unions that democratically represent them. In 2012 workers and unions worked very hard to elect people that would work to secure their rights and maybe turn back the attacks. For this effort unions are called undemocratic special interest groups, but when people like the republicans in the Michigan state legislature ram through right to work legislation solely to undermine union membership it is strangely labeled as fair and democratic. If there is a common descriptor of 2012 it is the undeniable effort of the right to secure a perverted version of a future where only the reactionary version of conservatives and republicans survives and the recognition that “The Labour Movement is the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress”, as noted by Martin Luther King, no longer exists. With Wal-Mart workers demanding justice, unions seeking mergers to increase density, teachers fighting bill 115, workers in Michigan pushing back on right to work legislation, workers striving to hold onto collective bargaining rights and workers across the world fighting austerity in 2012 there is always hope that the improvements made in workers lives over the last 150 years won’t be lost. At the end of 2012 let there be no mistake that the goals of the right and many corporations and governments, if not all, is to push the rights that workers enjoy right off the map and to a place where there will no longer be anyone to fight for those rights. Dave Trumble, Kincardine