Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

Bill C-377: The government forcing a private entity (a union) to make their financial statements public is downright scary.

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Mike has worked in both the union and non-union side of the electrical business for 25 years. Though he's a conservative, he hates the proposed Harper government legislation to force unions to publicly disclose their spending.

Two weeks ago, Alec Caldwell wrote about Ottawa’s Bill C-377, which might very well soon become law. If so, unions would be required to disclose their spending and their executive’s salaries.  Here’s a response to that from Mike. He says “be careful what you wish for” all those of you who are cheering on this new legislation to hamper unions. And he’s a life-long conservative.

“Unions are private entities and should not be required to disclose their finances. Be very careful here: this is a slippery slope!

I have worked in the electrical sector for over 25 years; The first 14 were for a non-union employer and the past 11 years have been for a union employer – only because it was a condition of employment.

For the first 14 years, I swore up and down that I would NEVER work in a union environment. My employer treated us very fairly, we were compensated well, had good benefits and vacation pay. I did not feel it was fair to vote in a union to an employer who treated us well and had spent thousands in court fighting union take over, successfully. My father also owned a general contracting business and was dead set against unions, likely a big part of why I disliked them so much.


For the past 11 years I have worked for a much larger employer (10+ times the size of the first) that has been unionized for many decades. In this environment I have come to appreciate the work unions do for their members. We pay a fee (dues) for this service which I feel is very fair for what we receive in return. I believe in a large employer environment it would be much more challenging to have your single voice heard as opposed to a collective voice.

I’m seeing a lot of both Pro and Negative union comments here.

How about this…. there is room for both unionized and non-unionized companies, take your pick and be happy with your choice. Yes there are unions that use some poor tactics when attempting to unionize a company and some unions have bargained for unblieveablely crazy benefits which I also disagree with. At the same time there are non-union employers out there that treat their workers like crap and threaten job security (or lack of it) to get them to work in poor conditions for poor wages.

The world just isn’t fair, but the government forcing a private entity to make their financial statements public is down right scary. What’s next, all companies will have to post their finances publicly? How much Big Brother do you want in your lives? I’d like to see those of you in favour of it to post your personal finances for all of us to see!

I am a life-long Conservative supporter (until this past Provincial election, couldn’t support Hudak) and if Bill C-377 goes through, that will be the end of my support.
Bill C-377 is a very scary proposition. Be careful what you wish (or vote) for, you could be next.”


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10 Comments » for Bill C-377: The government forcing a private entity (a union) to make their financial statements public is downright scary.
  1. Bob2 says:

    Mike forgot to tell everyone that his union and others have massive influence in politics which effects everyone not just the members, when unions keep out of our lives then maybe nobody will care, until then it’s time to open the books..

  2. Keith McEwen says:

    Mike doesn’t have any definitive reason for his objection except the old saw “big brother is watching”. Unions are no more private than any other large corporation.
    They have a fiduciary duty to disclose detailed information to the members that pay the bills.

  3. andrew says:

    I believe that many of the contributors to this site would share the opinion that private trade unions should not be treated differently than any other private corporation under the Income Tax Act (which would result in a new obligations for annual filing to maintain tax exempt status) and that private trade unions should be permitted the same access to engage in government relations (which would be reflected in annual filing and contravention would result in loss of tax exempt status) so I must conclude that those who support Bill C-377 in its current form are really seeking an effective method to destroy their perceived competition. Perhaps the “Canadian Contractor” posting on this subject should be titled accordingly so at attract all those not interested in the substantive issues affecting the Construction Sector.
    What’s the plan for securing qualified labour supply when Ontario’s educational system remains incapable of delivering STEM knowledge?
    What’s the plan to manage the aging infrastructure deficiencies and the likely impact on individual and corporate tax rates?
    What’s the plan to manage the impending demographic shift (including impact on all government services) and the likely impact on individual and corporate tax rates?
    Yes, let’s fiddle while Rome burns 😉

  4. Metallofu says:

    Interesting article. It’s unfortunate that the unions and political parties are so interconnected that this would be a bonus for some and a hindrance to others.

  5. Gail says:

    Bob2 forgets the far more massive influence and way deeper pockets of corporations. Here in the US, they helped elect Republicans all over the country, despite voters simultaneously supporting referendums (such as increased minimum wage) that the conservatives will never support, and will actively fight.

    We moved from a non-union job in a union state, and took a 50% pay cut. Our Social Security will be less because of the crappy pay. Here it’s called “right to work”. Translation: right to work for far less money with no protection from the whims of your employer. It’s a corporate wet dream, and a workers’ nightmare.

    Any contractor on either side of the US/Canadian border who thinks conservatives support the working class is delusional.

    • Bob2 says:

      Gail forgets the Barack Obama the president is a democrat not a republican (so much for big corp influence,, unless of course Obama is no different then the rest?..hmm), she also forgets that we are talking about Canada and not the US.

      Unions had their place, the labour laws in Canada are just and force the rights of workers, the same rights union used to push for, unions have now escalated to another level where it has become a huge “grab what you can at anyone’s expense”

  6. Terry says:

    I dont know if the unions are private entities or not and dont care ! If they dont like what they have coming their way then maybe they should take a long look at what they are sending out . What goes around comes around ! Suck it up !

  7. Robert says:

    Why don’t unions simply pay taxes then. They are big business, but unlike big business they have virtually no competition. Like big businesses they seem to have lost their moral high ground. Maybe not everyone deserves a look under the hood, but for sure the government and members do. I don’t know what all the fuss is about unless there is massive fraud and payola to hide. In most countries worth living in unions do have tax free status, but only in Canada is that allowed without openness and audited books.
    I do find it amusing that union members consider dues as their money when it is actually the money allowed to be overcharged for the “union only” government contracts that is funnelled back to the government anyway. We should be ALL fighting for the government to be as open, transparent and annually audited as what they propose for the unions.

  8. Terry says:

    Good point Robert , Im with you on that !

  9. Tedd says:

    Perhaps the legislation on transparency of entities would be more palatable if there was a distinction drawn between private interests that are attempting to make money and would be subject to at least minimal income taxes, and non profit and tax exempt entities, such as unions.

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