Today, I sent the following letter to the editor of the Regina Leader-Post:
Doug Robertson in his letter to the editor (Regina Leader-Post Nov. 6/07), misrepresents the position of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour respecting the certification provisions of the Saskatchewan Trade Union Act. The Federation absolutely supports the concept of 50 percent plus one representing the majority, and union certification being granted on the basis of achievement of that threshold.
We should have such a system in Canadian politics where before you can be the Prime Minister of this country you would need support of at least 50 percent plus one of the citizens. Following our last election Stephen Harper was placed in the Prime Minister's chair with less than 40% support of the citizenry.
What the SFL is opposed to is the suggestion that a person by signing a union card (in secret from their employer) does not constitute a legitimate declaration of that individual's support for unionization. The suggestion is that following such a declaration, workers should be required to re-affirm their indicated support for unionization through a 2nd "secret" democratic process. The part that Robertson doesn't include is the intervening opportunity for employers to threaten, coerce, intimidate, scare and browbeat employees into changing their minds on their stated intention when they vote in a second ballot.
Perhaps Robertson would support a system that requires a 2nd election, one month after the first - just to make sure citizens made the correct choice.
It is important to point out that the Supreme Court of Canada has acknowledged there is a significant power imbalance between a worker and an employer - with the employer clearly holding the upper hand vis-a-vis the power relationship. And that a worker's Charter Rights related to Freedom of Association need to be protected from undue influence of the employer who holds the upper hand. The Canada Labour Code has identical certification provisions to the Saskatchewan Trade Union Act. I don't hear people like Robertson calling for changes there.
If Robertson, Brad Wall and others were truly interested in workplace democracy they would be calling for a vote in "every" workplace. Every bank, every department store, every restaurant, every hotel, every mine, every mill, and every manufacturing plant - every private sector, every public sector, and every co-operative workplace. But they are not.
Their phony concern for workplace democracy extends only to a very select group. To those who have already made the decision (in secret from their employer) to seek the formation of a union.