Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

The difference between union-minded workers versus employers

Canadian Contractor Coverage Financial

"Unions no longer serve the members they so adamantly say they are trying to protect."

Further to the opinion piece by Alec Caldwell, about Lorne’s Electric becoming a union shop (IBEW) and then, not long after, closing its doors. The card-based certification of Lorne’s was based on a vote taken on a day when only 3 of the company’s 40 employees were working. Here is what Sean Keane had to say about the issue:

Alec, great controversy once again. By reading a lot of these comments you can definitely get a sense of the difference between union-minded workers versus employers.
I feel bad for this contractor (Lorne’s Electric owner Eric Glahs) if it is true that only 2 per cent of the workers forced this situation upon them. If that is the case, it is a gross miscarriage of justice and should be investigated thoroughly. My understanding of the law states 50 + 1 in order to certify.

That being said some of the sentiments here also ring true. The Labour Board has been long known to be sympathetic toward unions. The chances of keeping the union of your back is nil when it comes to their decision-making process. To fight you need to hire a labour lawyer and the cost to do so is also unfair when you have to pay out thousands to a lawyer when you’re fighting against a union-salaried lawyer. The balance is always against you.

The unions are allowed to intimidate with impunity and the minute you as an employer have any discussion with an employee you are guilty of intimidation in the eyes of the Labor Board. Unions will always cry that they do no harm, they do not employ any unsavory tactics to get what they want… yet we all know they do and are supported by the Labor Board.

One of your responders is in my belief correct, unions no longer serve the members they so adamantly say they are trying to protect. Look at the last few years in Ontario: the unions have been behind Bill 119 (Editor’s Note: Ontario Bill 119 forced mandatory WSIB on tens of thousands of independent and self-employed contractors not previously required to pay it, including owners, officers, etc.) and forced that bill through legislation. Something that their membership would not have supported knowing what we know now. Ask any union worker in this province who protects them in their time of need if injured at work. They would all tell you that it’s their union. It’s not. If you are injured on the job it is the sole responsibility of the WSIB, as dictated by legislation, who provides any injured worker the financial coverage. The union only covers you at home. So why do we need the union?

The Ontario College of Trades: another wonderful union idea that has since backfired forcing qualified trades like electricians and plumbers to pay a separate license to work. I am certain the membership was not on board with that either.

Look at Alberta: they were fed up with the unions dictating how they live. They got rid of them for the most part. It’s far past the time we started that here.

That being said there are a couple of good unions out there that have the interest of their members at heart – but they are few and far between.


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