There are probably going to be more musings in the coming weeks along the lines of this Chris Selley piece in the National Post’s Full Comment section. With the LCBO nearly walking out and with Toronto’s city employees on the picket lines I fully expect that you’ll hear lots of questions about the continued existence of unions. What I don’t expect is for very many of the writers of these pieces to give away their underlying preconception to the reader. That preconception is that workers don’t deserve to earn good wages, because, well, they just don’t.
Here’s what I mean, from Chris Selley:
“When OPSEU, which represents LCBO employees, complains that its members’ livelihoods are threatened by part-time and casual workers making between $10 and $17 an hour, they must realize how Ontarians will react. These are cashiers and shelf-stockers, for heaven’s sake, plus the odd person who actually knows a bit about wine. I’m not saying it’s right, but the idea that that sort of work might constitute a stable lifelong career went out with leaded gasoline.”
Went out with leaded gasoline?! I’m sure that Chris isn’t trying to suggest a causal relationships. But has he asked why it is that someone who’s particular abilities may not extend much beyond shelf stalking can’t or shouldn’t earn a good living? No. Instead we get a crack about it being such an out-of-date idea that it’s like the gas used in the 1970s. Selley then goes on to draw a false comparison between “unions” and “taxpayers” who “underwrite” the unions’ benefits. As if union members don’t pay taxes. The tactic here is clear, turn non-union workers against union workers so that they are griping at each other as their standards of living erode and the bailouts for CEOs and bankers continue.