Canadian Contractor

Opinion: Unions destroy jobs

It's time to push back on unions and the political parties that protect them

July 9, 2012
By Robert Koci

With Greece-like numbers looming in Ontario’s political near future, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has released a White Paper that will form the basis for their next election campaign called, “Paths to Prosperity, Flexible Labour Markets.” The paper amounts to an all out assault on the growing power of both public service and private sector unions.

As the title of the paper suggests, it is the lack of flexibility in hiring and firing that drives costs up, business down and employment out of the province and it is unionization that is at the heart of the inflexibility. As independent business owners, you know this first hand. As a former member of Local 127 when I was framing, I remember it well.

Where the Liberals and the NDP derive much of their support from unions, the Conservatives are the only party that can take a stand against the calcification and decimation of the labour market that occurs through unionization. The White Paper is its line in the sand and we all need to decide on what side of the line we stand.

Its’ key recommendation is that union membership be voluntary. At present, union membership and dues payments in union shops is mandatory. Another recommendation that will affect you directly and immediately is for the province to open up competition for insurance by allowing you to opt out of now mandatory WSIB and buy your worker’s insurance privately.

There’s more and you need to acquaint yourself with Hudac’s plans for Ontario. More important, you need to become a vocal advocate for the Conservative agenda for the sake of your business and the future of the province. Along with the completely inane Green Energy policies, McGuinty’s government’s unwillingness to address these fundamental issues on unions will continue to tear the heart out of your efforts to run a business and make a living for your family.


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17 Comments » for Opinion: Unions destroy jobs
  1. Benjamin van de Putte says:

    Following the US – Republican model is not the answer to Canada’s economic challenges. Union wages help to sustain the middle class and will reduce income in-equality. Many leading economists including Mr. Milanovic (World Bank economist) believe that income equality and economic growth are linked!
    Unless there are clear rules and regulations, privatizing WSIB will lead to “Claims Denied”!.

  2. Tim Cinnamon says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with this article! Unions with their greed will destroy small business which is the heart and soul of Ontarios economy. They care nothing for the little guy and are only interested in increasing their numbers. It has nothing to do with sustaining middle class or income equality! That is strictly union rhetoric! The preaching that without unions the wages will significantly decrease is complete bogus. The wages will become sustainable so that small companies can afford to keep employess on long term and in turn provide a better life for them.

  3. We are currently before the Ontario Labour Relations Board fighting a large multi-national trade union and it would be very inappropriate for me to comment. However, I do promise my own personal crusade, regardless of the outcome.

  4. Robert Koci says:

    Benjamin: Unions were an important part of growing the middle class in the early part of the last century. But what was good then is not necessarily good now. Their power has distorted income distribution away from merit and towards nepotism and privilege. We can’t take unions away, but we must make adjustments so that they do no choke labour markets and the marketplace in general.

  5. Lionel says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with Robert and Tim on this issue. Unions had their day when employers abused their employees with long hours and low pay, not to mention poor and unsafe working conditions. Nowadays, unions help workers who do not want to work for their pay, and increase wages artificially (see auto industry) in order to line their pockets. Unions today are big business, they are looking at their bottom line and seeing how they can increase their coffers at the expense of small businesses and consumers in general. In my opinion, the sooner unions are gone, or drastically reduced, the better.

  6. Robert Koci says:

    And I must add that it is public service unions in particular that have created significant imbalances in the system. When I was young, it was understood that if you wanted to join the public service, you could be sure of a job for life, but you paid the price for that comfort by accepting lower pay. Now not only is public service secure, it pays as much as 30 per cent more than a private sector job of equal skill when benefits and pensions are taken into account.
    Though it will never happen, I believe public sector unions should be banned outright.

  7. Jim VanderWal says:

    Our company was forced into the union officially in November 2011.
    Before June 2010 for 25 years our company introduced as many as 76 non-qualified persons to the construction trade. Many now very successful.
    Our site labour is no longer competitive so we no longer offer site work.
    We request installation companies to quote projects based on our scope of work.
    The so called Brotherhood of Carpenters has been after us since 1998.
    The organizer promised site staff great wages, pensions, travel time and overtime after 8 hours. 10 of the 14 site staff working for us haven’t worked since June 2010 thanks to the Brotherhood.
    3 of the 4 working are on non union jobs with reasonable wages, no pensions, no travel time and standard 1.5 overtime after 44 hours.

  8. Craig says:

    I am presently a Owner of a unionized company. I tried to get decertified last year. After a year of going to the Ontario Labour Board hearings, I was not allowed to leave. The financial cost was around 25,000.00. I cant afford to appeal their disicion,which I find ridiculous.
    You know what, I tried for a number of years to work with the union. There payroll package keeps going up every year. This has made it impossible to compete. What ever happened to my freedom of rights?

  9. Craig;
    Get yourself some real legal advice. You can get de-certified within 6 months of the end of the contract which is April 2013. Time to get it done is now.

    All the more reason for us to form our own brotherhood!!


  10. Jim VanderWal says:

    I would like to find a lawyer willing to sue the OLRB and the brotherhood for accusations that are not true and unsupported by any of there documents.
    I’d split 50/50 on that baby.
    Ontario has all kinds of labour laws, minimum wage, overtime and of course the MOL to protect workers from us small business owners.
    The brotherhood and the OLRB have protected our construction site workers from this small business owner to the unemployment line.
    When workers loose there job because of certification of a business the brotherhood should be forced to support these workers until they find other work.
    At least the brotherhood should cover there union dues, benefits and pensions.
    I’m sure the other working brotherhood members wouldn’t mind helping out.

    I’m looking for a bumper sticker – LOSE YOUR JOB YET – JOIN A UNION

  11. Victoria says:

    where have our rights gone. trying to stand up to the biggest bully out there is proving difficult and extremely costly alone, can we not form a non union organization to help save our businesses and sue. our only option may be to close after 20 years of hard work. i cant believe the canadian government allowed them so much power, who needs a cartel when we have the union to put a gun to our heads with no unbiased place to turn it is against every human right we have and no one to protect us. I think its time to educate people on what unions are doing. i will buy one of those bumper stickers.

    • Robert Koci says:

      There was a time when unions were important to improving the lives of many working people. There was an imbalance of power that needed to be corrected. However, unions now create an imbalance between union and nonunion workers, especially in the public sector. They have become the problem they were designed to fix.

  12. without unions the workplace would be comparable to the state it was in the 1920’s in a week! The residential construction industry is manned by a workforce that will never be able to purchase a home off their income alone. Until they start their own company and oppress others.

  13. andrew says:

    Just be honest, if union is really good for the economy and country, why not make all the labour worker unionized? Including cashier, waiter, barista….EVERYONE. Hmmm? think about that.

  14. Guy Hillmer says:

    Unions not only are and will continue to destroy our economy and the middle class they are 100% hypocritical.
    The public sector and trade unions suck all our tax dollars to feed a few. The public sectors pensions and wages are all funded by the tax payers. Less than 1% of tax payers will ever be close to receiving wages benefits and certainly not the pensions the public sector workers receive. Trade unions at $60 plus per hour receive most of (80 – 90%) of their work from government contracts. All government contacts are once again paid for from us taxpayers. The majority of trade workers do not work full time. While they are unemployed they collect unemployment insurance, again paid for by the tax payer. They claim the are tax payers also, however it is impossible to contribute to the tax base with money from the tax base. The trade unions and the OLRB are destroying any small bussness they deal with. The OLRB supports the unions in collecting unions cards signed under any conditions including lies, misreprentation and intimidation. The OLRB will than grant the union representation without a vote by employees, giving them the opportunity to express their true wishes by secret ballot. Once the unions have control the OLRB has made it literally impossible to decertify. The only work the small company can compete in now is government work. With the profit margins now so low they require 20 or more employees just to keep their doors open. The unions will make it so there are only a few large contractors like Plan Electric doing all the work. Once this happens the cost to the government will increase dramatically from the already ridiculous cost and will again be paid for by the taxpayers. As taxpayers we must vote to put a stop to the unfair Union practices and controll of our government before there in nothing left of the middle class.

  15. frank says:

    You cannot build big infrastructure with out the unions controlling the mass of workers for the benefit of the employers.The employers actually save money on safety and self accountability with the union teaching the mass of workers.The companies would be wasting a lot of time trying to do this themselves.I know this from 30 years of working in the construction industry.The union makes it mandatory for union workers to take all these courses.In the past employers had no courses at all and if they did they paid you on there time.Small companies not so much but really they only depend on extra money that people have in there pockets.Big jobs are usually government funded and the union can get these big projects done. It would be impossible for non union companies to get these jobs done.Imagine companies trying to man these jobs themselves or the government having to do it??Without unions nothing would get built.This is how canada works so well.

  16. Ken Pack says:

    It will be a difficult task. On one hand we have a surge of skilled migrants, making Canadian economic labour pools saturated with talent. And the other hand, a deadlock of large turn of the century businesses with unions calling the shots.

    If Canada hopes to ever succeed it may have to find some middle ground in innovation. Japan, Korea, India, and China have all seen their fair share of rags to riches innovation. Canada may have one last chance to get it right as this 10 to 15 year recession looms with COVID and such.

    One of the greatest changes that happened pre-COVID, was where entire media empires became copy-paste news. When the Berlin Wall fell – it separated two distinct ideologies. One ideology lacked a quality of life seen by these media empires, and the wealth provided by freedom of expression. This made capitalism a clear choice.

    In this new era, the quality of life once again is in question. What system of engineering society will provide the highest quality of life? In Canada we have seen united by vote a socialist health care system succeed at caring for the sick and elderly, and allowing women to have babies in a clean room.

    The challenges of living and surviving can be met with capitalism or communism. It is just the perceived quality of such methods that we argue and vote for.

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