Friday, April 24, 2015

A Cudgel Resurrected

To the red-meat crowd (a.k.a. the Harper base et alia), few things can seem more gratifying than an attack on unions. Viewed as the enemy of all that is good and holy (i.e., unfettered profits), unions, we are often told, have had their day and really shouldn't be disrupting our lives anymore. Anything that restrains them can only redound to the public good.

While critical thinkers can see this for the propaganda it is, critical thinkers are not the ones being courted by the Harper regime. And so, in search of yet another divisive and polarizing issue, Tim Harper writes that Bill C-377,
first introduced by British Columbia Conservative backbencher Russ Hiebertin December 2011, has been revived by a Senate committee and there was Hiebert this week, again staking his claim to some type of Conservative medal as the man who has most doggedly pursued his boss’s agenda.

Hiebert is still flogging what must be considered the most fundamentally flawed piece of legislation to come from this majority government, a punitive assault on labour unions which would tip the collective bargaining process in the country to the employer, violate privacy and freedom of association rights of union leaders and tie up unions up with unnecessary, trivial, insulting paper work.
While Harper lapdog Hiebert extols the bill as one providing accountability and transparency,
Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff calls it “an unwarranted, unconstitutional, venal and indefensible bill that is inherently flawed and must be withdrawn.”
Designed to hobble unions with paperwork and make it easier to decertify them, while simultaneously making union membership more difficult, would force unions to publicize their budgets, their expenditures, how much they would be able to pay workers in the event of a strike and what type of money they would have to promote their cause in the case of a breakdown of a collective agreement.

Employers would not be compelled to disclose any of that.
A particular incident is instructive of the obdurate mindset of the bill's backers:
Manitoba Conservative Don Plett showered praise on Hiebert for his hard work and announced it was time to make this bill law.

But when he clashed with Paul Cavalluzzo, a constitutional and labour lawyer with more than four decades of experience, the bombastic Plett insulted the witness by telling him he considered “your time and my time to have been wasted with you here today not answering my questions.”
I suspect that what Plett really meant was that Cavalluzzo did not provide the answers that he wanted to hear.

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