Why We Need Unions

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 No. Instead we get a crack about it being such an out-of-date idea that it’s like the gas used in the 1970s.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.

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6 responses to “Why We Need Unions

  1. If you go to the Toronto Star and check out their daily survey about the garbage strike, go to the comments.

    I am, even if I should not be, a tad shocked that so many people would have the attitude of “they are lucky to have any job at all – they should all be fired..” …

    The idea seems to be that hard times are upon us all and the city employees should suffer like the rest of us.

    I suspect, with these attitudes, these folks would feel in the good times all the benefits should to those that deserve the benefits. (them, of course).

    ps. I make considerably more that the $10-12 an hour mentioned in the article and I sure ain’t living the good life.

  2. What these comment trolls forget is that the city workers are all consumers, using those paycheques to buy groceries, homes, cars, et cetera. It’s much better in the hands of a city worker or an LCBO worker than hidden in some tycoon’s offshore account tax-haven.

  3. It is my beleive that Unions had a time a place in scociety and history however that time has long passed. As a taxpayer and a former union member all Iever see comming from unions are cash grabs and civil disrest.

    The toronto garbage strike is another example. There are hundreds of thousands of folks woud kill to have those jobs yet these unions feel it is justified to hold the taxpayers and citizens hostage in order to have their demands met. If your not happy with your job quit. If I were the mayor I would be issusing a tender to privatize funtions to a NON UNION BIDDERS in order to eliminate future disruptions that we the taxpayers pay for. Municipalties are struggling with a limitted flow of anual cash that will end up in raising taxed to pay folks that complain about having a good job with good pay and great benifits.

    The Auto workers had their day giving up huge concessions that was way overdue. Unions do not pay a viable role in society today other than protect the week and make Canada less competative in the global market. The more they squeeze the more you will seee jobs go abroad as local labour has become unaffordable and an unviable in todays global econimic stage.

    Unions have cause much disrest in my life over the years thinking they can hold us hostage to their demands but their day will come over all sectors as tey keep driving their workforce to an unviable resource. There is not pucblic support and the patiens towards unions within the gerneral public this getting really thin. the time is comming that foks will begin to stand up to unions.

    I’m sick of hearing about techers complaing when their pension fund is one of the largest in the country and we have been asked up to $200 million bailouts due to mismanagement. I never get bailouts from my govenments just tax increased to cover that crap. Or better yet hearing them say “it’s not our jobs to whatch the children”. I fully expect those folks to be watching my children as I trust them with their saftey but Unions have put these eronious ideas in their heads.

    Teachers, civil workers, paramedics,auto workers and the whole dam rest of the unionized bunch , I challenge you all to leave your jobs if you feel you are unhappy and let the workers that are willing to do the tasks step up.

    We no longer have the time, monies or patience to entertain these organizations of civil disrest and if you feel there is a need for this crap I feel sorry for you as and all those you hold hostage.

  4. Key example of how unions treat the taxpayers that pay their wages. Published June 24th in the National Post. Common Sense has no existance in a unionized environment.

    The message from the City of Toronto is clear: those who obey the rules will be punished. Those who flout the rules will be rewarded.

    Today, dozens of farmers obeyed a city decision to cancel the popular farmer’s market in Nathan Phillips Square. As a result, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of perishable fresh Ontario strawberries are now at risk of rotting. The city said today that the farmer’s market at Metro Hall square, set for tomorrow, is also cancelled.

    Those who went to the city’s main square Wednesday morning, looking for flowers, honey, strawberries, maple syrup or any other bounty of the land, were instead greeted by a loud and boisterous protest by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (pictured above). About 400 union members from Emergency Medical Services and other striking city workers, as well as supporters from other unions such as the firefighters cheered remarks by Paul Moist, the national CUPE president; Sid Ryan, who heads CUPE Ontario, and others.

    Later in the day, Sue Corke, deputy city manager of Toronto, confirmed that CUPE had no permit to climb on to a big black city-owned concert stage that the city has erected for the Toronto Jazz Festival. “We were not aware that they were going to have an event at Nathan Phillips Square,” she said. “They did not have approval.” Later, Kevin Sack, the city spokesman, said, “It’s a peaceful rally in a public square. They brought their own generator. The city is not by force on the third day of a labour disruption going to remove the Canadian Union of Public Employees.”

    Burt Andrews, owner of the Andrews Scenic Acres farm, is livid: “If the Jazz Festival can take place, there is no logical reason why the Farmers’ Market cannot take place. Any argument to the contrary does not make common sense.”

    National Post

  5. Pingback: Abandoned Stuff by Saskboy :: Volcanoes from Space ; Toronto garbage

  6. B,

    The city has actually taken over more and more garbage collection from private contractors since public collection has been shown to be cheaper. Private collectors need to make a profit after all, I’d rather that money go to the garbage workers in this city than the CEO of some private company. After all, there seems to be lots of government money for CEOs that fall on hard times these days, isn’t there?

    Make no mistake, if we did away with unions, you’d see lower wages for everyone, less benefits for everyone – except of course the aforementioned CEOs.

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