Saturday, 8 December 2007

Get ready for the steady onslaught of Anti-Union Rhetoric - disguised as worker democracy

Next Monday (Dec 10, 2007) marks the beginning of the first legislative session of the Wall government in Saskatchewan. Wall's conservative Sask. Party were elected on November 7.

Since things could hardly be better in Saskatchewan, what with the booming economy, low unemployment rate, optimistic population, great productivity and efficiency, labour movement engagement in numerous co-operative initiatives and so on, it is difficult to understand why any government would want to create an unnecessary and totally irresponsible conflict where none currently exists.

Much good will has been built up over the past few years, through significant efforts in the area of Labour/Business/Government co-operation. Just one example is the creation of the new "Saskatchewan Labour Market Commission" which is still in it's infancy, but holds much promise if supported and encouraged.

However, the signals are loud and clear - Brad Wall's government have announced that they will be coming out of the gates with a full frontal attack on working people, their constitutional and charter rights and their democratic organizations. The Sask. Party government has announced it will table a number of pieces of anti-union/anti-worker legislation. In the past week, Wall and his cabinet have announced plans to amend (without consultation) the Trade Union Act respecting union certification and employer communication; to open-end the length of collective agreements; and to bring in unneccessary and intrusive "essential services legislation". This is just what they have announced, I'm not sure what else they plan to introduce.

I'm curious as to how this squares with Mr. Wall's election campaign commitment to "reach out to labour". As far as I'm aware, he hasn't consulted with anyone in the labour movement about any of these proposed legislative changes.

Yesterday's National Post carried a commentary by Sara Slinn from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University entitled: Anti-union intimidation is real. I think it's a preview of what we are about to witness in Saskatchewan.

I found this section of the commentary particularly revealing:

"Most academic studies find that employer anti-union tactics are both widespread and effective. A survey of managers at Canadian workplaces where union organizing had recently occurred found 94% used anti-union tactics, and 12% admitted to using what they believed to be illegal, unfair labour practices to discourage employees from unionizing.

The commentators cited academic research showing that introduction of mandatory vote procedures significantly reduce the probability of certification. They suggested that mandatory votes remove this imbalance, and thus fewer certifications result. The commentators implied this was because of a weakness of the card system. However, we must be very careful about making such an assumption.

Academic research, including one of the studies referred to by the commentators, suggests a different explanation. It suggests that the explanation lies in the advantage votes give to employer anti-union efforts. Unionization is less likely under mandatory votes because employers are encouraged to resist unionization and research shows that these union-avoidance efforts (legal and illegal) are more effective under the vote than card system."

Too bad we will have to spend so much time and energy on this when we could be spending our time cooperating, consulting, and working together to create a province that respects the rights of working people in addition to being a great place to work, play, raise a family, and run a business.


berlynn said...

We do have something special here in Saskatchewan, compared to the rest of the country. But it is beginning to look like Wall's ideology will rule over pragmatism.

Mike The Greek said...


Wow, Larry... Where to begin?

If Premier Wall (and yes, 52% of the population decided that's what his title should be, as opposed to the labour backed Calvert), makes the changes that should be made, what exactly is wrong with a secret ballot certification? Isn't that the way we vote in all elections?

What is wrong with no special interest group not having the essential services gun held to the head of the populace?

It seems as thou you don't like democracy Larry, unless your side wins.

These are good moves for Saskatchewan, good moves for the population, and oddly enough, good moves for all workers.

The only people that don't think these are good moves are the union brass and the SFL that are going to see their power base shift.

Suck it up Larry. And maybe you should spend more time working with this new government, than trying to undermine it.

As the head of the SFL, I would think that you would at least know what the new Minister of Labour's name is.

Is this blog YOUR idea of cooperating?

berlynn said...

Uh, Mike, yer math leaves a bit to be desired. You say "52% of the population decided that's what his title should be" and that's just bad math and bad grammar. Or, a blatant misrepresentation of the facts...

453,004 ballots were cast.
230,669 went to the SP.
The population of SK is 996,869.
That's 23% of the population.

Looking at adults only:

745,598 adults in SK
230,669 voted SP
That takes it up to 31%.

Big w00t!

That says only that something's wrong with our "democracy" when a party can rule with so little support from the people.

Richard_Cranium said...

People who dont vote, dont count period. Mikes figures are accurate. Your math is also skewed as you are assuming that everyone who did not vote do not support the SP.

Mike The Greek said...


If you believe that the SK Party doesn't warrant the right to govern in it's own manner, because only 23% of the population voted for them, look at it this way...

Significantly less than 23% (about 16%) voted for the NDP.

Sean S. said...

way to side track berlynn's point Mike.....

berlynn said...

"People who don't vote don't count"

Wow! That is a statement displaying the least amount of human compassion possible. Children don't vote. And we have the highest rate of child poverty in the country. With that logic, it's no wonder.

And Mikey, I don't give a frick about the numbers who voted for the NDP. They sunk their own ship. I do give a frick about the misrepresentation of facts which you and your ilk seem to like to do that. And, as a responsible citizen, I am very concerned about the state of our democracy.

Richard_Cranium said...

Come on Berlynn, you know I meant eligible voters. And I stand by my statement that people who are able, but do not vote, do not have the right to complain about who got elected and who did not. Period.

berlynn said...

Your point is crap, Cranium. Our democracy is fragile, at best, and people disgruntled with a broken system have every right to choose to *not* vote because they believe that to do so is to legitimize a corrupt and backward system. I dare the SP to introduce some form of PR. No, I double-dare!