With the Federal election under a week away, we would like to remind members of the Harper government’s record on unions and labour – it’s not a pretty sight. Since taking power in 2006, they’ve passed nine pieces of legislation limiting unions’ power (for further reading, see list below, from The Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights, http://labourrights.ca/restrictive-labour-laws).
It is not unreasonable to assume they have more of the same in store for the future; indeed they have suggested at least weakening the Rand Formula (this rule requires all members of a bargaining unit who benefit from its collective agreement to pay dues, regardless of a member’s feelings about unions: the “no free lunch” rule), a move that would effectively defund and weaken unions.
In addition, continuing the Employment Insurance reforms of the previous Liberal government, the Harper Conservatives have further reduced eligibility for EI to the extent that they created a surplus in the EI fund, which they then raided to “balance” the federal budget instead of supporting the now-ineligible unemployed workers who had paid into it.
The Temporary Foreign Workers programs also bear mentioning, as these programs help drive down wages for Canadian workers, while at the same time limiting access to job protection – not to mention the possibility of citizenship – for the foreign workers themselves.
Finally, the Conservatives’ record on job creation and employment generally is the worst since World War II. (See Rhetoric and Reality: Evaluating Canada’s Economic Record Under the Harper Government, from Unifor.)
In all, the Harper Conservative government is anti-union and anti-worker. Let’s vote on October 19, and let’s vote for a better Canada.
ANTI-UNION LEGISLATION UNDER THE HARPER CONSERVATIVES
(From The Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights, http://labourrights.ca/restrictive-labour-laws):
Employees’ Voting Rights Act (Bill C-525, December)
This Act amends the Canada Labour Code, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, making it tougher to for workers to join a union under federal jurisdiction and easier to decertify one. The Act removes automatic certification when the majority of workers sign union cards. A certification vote can only take place when 40 percent of the workers sign union cards. It also mandates certification votes in all union drives regardless of whether a majority or even a 100 percent of the workers sign union cards. It also mandates a decertification vote when a member of a bargaining unit claims to represent 40 percent of the bargaining unit members wishing to decertify from the union.
Federal Government Restrictions on certification December 2014
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act (Bill C-60, June)
A section of this omnibus 2013 budget gives the federal cabinet the explicit power to give Crown corporations orders as to how they should negotiate with employees, both unionized and non-unionized, and would give the government the power to have a Treasury Board official sit in on collective bargaining sessions at Crown corporations.
Federal Government Restrictions on scope of bargaining July 2013
An Act to provide for the continuation and resumption of rail service operations, 2012 (Bill C-39, May)
The Act ended a six-day strike between CP Rail and its 4,800 employers represented by the Teamsters. It also imposed high fines for non-compliance, and conferred on the Minister of Labour the unilateral right to select the arbitrator to settle remaining issues in dispute while prohibiting the right of the parties to challenge the selection.
Federal Government May 2012
An Act to provide for the continuation and resumption of air service operations, 2012 (Bill C-33, March)
This legislation substantially interfered in the collective bargaining process between Air Canada and its 8,200 technical, maintenance and operational support employees represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) and the airline’s 3,000 pilots represented by the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA). The legislation prevented both unions from taking strike action and sent both disputes to a biased arbitration process.
Federal Government Back to work – settlement imposed March 2012
Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act, 2011 (Bill C-6, June)
This legislation force locked-out postal workers back to work, is bias against CUPW and its members. It imposed wage increases that are less than the employer’s last offer and referred all other outstanding issues to final offer arbitration and restricted the impartiality of the arbitrator in deciding on a settlement.
Federal Government Back to work – settlement imposed June 2011
Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act, 2009 (Bill C-10, March)
This Act, as part of the federal government’s 2009 Budget Implementation Act, removed the right of public sector workers to collectively file complaints for pay equity with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, forcing women to file complaints as individuals. It imposes a $50,000 fine on any union that encourages or assists their own members in filing a pay equity complaint.
Federal Government Restrictions on scope of bargaining March 2009
Expenditure Restraint Act, 2009 (Bill C-10, March)
This Act, as part of the federal government’s 2009 Budget Implementation Act, imposed caps on salary increases for federal government employees, prohibited any additional remuneration such as allowance, bonus, differential or premium and prohibited any changes to the classification system that resulted in increased pay rates. In several cases, the legislation override previously negotiated collective agreements containing wage increases above the imposed salary caps.
Federal Government Suspension of bargaining rights March 2009
Railway Continuation Act, 2007 (Bill C-46, April)
The Act ended a strike by railway workers and imposed a final offer selection process to resolve matters remaining in dispute between the parties.
Federal Government Back to work – dispute sent to arbitration April 2007