Sunday, 20 April 2008

Business Council resorts to Half-Truths and Outright Lies

The so-called Sask. Business Council ran a large ad in Saskatchewan's major daily newspapers on Friday, April 18, 2008. It is their attempt to con citizens into believing that the government's anti-worker, anti-democratic labour law changes are good for people.

The ad is riddled with half-truths and outright lies. You can view a larger version by clicking the image below:


Matthew Bennett said...

Are you suggesting that Union members shouldn't be able to vote by secret ballot!!!!

Larry Hubich said...


Thank you for participating in the blog.

The answer to your question is that the Trade Union Act in Saskatchewan already provides for a secret ballot vote. In a variety of situations. I support secret ballots when and where applicable and appropriate.

The Sask. Party government's proposals have nothing to do with the concept.

The statement about secret ballots in the Business Council advertisement is a lie.

HankR said...


Rather than calling people "liars", can you point out what you believe the facts are? What is the truth according to you.

Otherwise, it's just plain old childish name-calling

Larry Hubich said...


Thank you for your comments. Stating facts is not name-calling. The advertisement is full of lies.

1. Saskatchewan is NOT the only province without such legislation.

2. A Secret ballot, in and of itself, does NOT protect employees against pressure and fear of retribution by the boss.

3. The threshold for triggering a vote will be tied for the HIGHEST in Canada.

4. Saskatchewan employers are NOT forbidden to communicate.

5. Employers and Unions can negotiate an agreement exceeding the maximum term if they chose. The limit of three years protects both employers and workers.

6. Most other province do NOT have similar legislation.

7. Saskatchewan's labour laws are NOT "self-imposed barriers to jobs and growth."

When an organization knowingly misrepresents things they are lying. Plain and simple.

Trent said...

More details are needed, Larry. You have been known to go on at length about subjects in this blog, yet you are only giving answers when requested and they are vague answer at that.

1. What are the rules in other provinces? (Quebec doesn't count unless you considered a $120 billion debt acceptable.)

2. When is a secret ballot used and when is it not?

3. What is the threshold now, what will it be? and what is it in other provinces?

4. Are there any limits on their communications? (granted, there should be to prevent threats of 'we will close if you vote union' but let's hear the limits)

5. How do the Saskatchewan limits compare to other provinces? (Again, Quebec doesn't count)

6. Which Provinces don't have back to work legislation and which do? (Again, no Quebec)

7. I don't know if it is just the labour laws, Larry, but the recent investment that has been coming to Saskatchewan since Nov 2007 and even since the NDP adapted the Alberta Conservative budgets a few years ago, is astounding and speaks volumes about the failures of socialism.
And I remember, while you may chose to forget, that one of the first statements Romanow made in 1991 was that he would not be photographed with any union leaders because he wanted to send the message that Saskatchewan was "open for business". (I still bug Ed Cowley about that when ever I see him)
Look forward to your response Larry, and, as always, I appreciate the way you run your blog, may not agree with what you say, but I appreciate the forum.

HankR said...

Now it's my turn...

1. Nova Scotia's labour bill has been tabled, but has not as yet passed. Not unlike Saskatchewan, there is no reason to believe that it will not be passed. Half truth, Larry

2. That's not a lie. That's an opinion.

3. The proposed is 40%. I would have thought 50% would be more in line with democracy as opposed to 25% signing cards for almost certain certification as is the case now.

4. Now you're lying, Larry. Management cannot legally communicate with employees at present when a union drive is on about the union drive. The LRB can and will fine business owners for such actions.

5. Half-truth, Larry. An agreement for longer than three years can be agreed to, but it has to be ratified by Executive Council. That is absolute hogwash. Case in point - Ipsco.

6. Lying, Larry. Most jurisdictions do in fact have similar legislation. Just because you don't like them, doesn't mean they don't exist.

7. That's your opinon, Larry. You having been in the GSU before this gig, have never been in business. You don't understand our issues (nor does it seem that you care to). Our image, at least the one under the unions and the NDP was very negative from a capital attraction viewpoint.

"When an organization knowingly misrepresents things they are lying. Plain and simple."

I couldn't agree with you more, Larry.

Larry Hubich said...

Trent and Hankr,

Thank you for your comments.

I will elaborate on these matters. However, it's not "our" ad - it's the business council's ad. They are the ones that need to substantiate their statements, not me.

1. Nova Scotia has no legislation. They have tabled legislation that removes the "right to strike" from certain employees. They have decided "not to bring the legislation to a vote" because they are in a minority government and the legislation will be defeated by the opposition - given these facts it is likely to die on the order table. (and by the way, it is not "essential services" legislation". Some provinces have legislation that denies the right to strike to certain occupations (but that is also not "essential services" legislation). Given the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada that enshrines collective bargaining as a Charter Right - there is much dialogue occurring across the country about potential charter challenges against such legislation. I fully expect we will see some in the not too distant future.

2. Trent, Secret ballots are used when there is no "clear indication" of majority support for unionization, and in a couple of other areas. Hankr - on this point we disagree.

3. The threshold to trigger a vote in Saskatchewan is currently 25%. The government in it's amendments is proposing to raise that to 45%, the highest in Canada (not 40 Hank). Other jurisdictions have the trigger set at anywhere between 35 - 45%. And again, Hankr is wrong - the 25% trigger does not result in "almost certain certification" - the truth and facts aret unions rarely apply in Saskatchewan unless they have over 50% demonstrated support. Set the threshold whereever you want - that's not the issue.

4 & 5. Employers can communicate all they want with the workers while a union drive is on. They just can't interfere in the workers Constitutional right to "freedom of association". The Supreme Court of Canada has reinforced that right numerous times. That being - it is not appropriate for employers to have any say whatsoever in whether or not the employees in the workplace want to form a union.

The current legislation in Saskatchewan prohibits employers from threatening, intimidating or coercing employees into not joining a union. The same restriction applies to the union respecting activity that is threatening, intimidating or coercing.

Language in other jurisdictions on this matter is all over the map.

5. Again Hankr, you're letting your anger get the best of you. If parties want to sign consecutive 3 year agreements, there is nothing stopping them. The reason for the limit is so that neither side - (neither the union nor the employer) can bring bargaining to an impasse over a term exceeding 3 years.

There is a real practical reason for this, and actually most enlightened employers support it. Here it is, right now workers are in the drivers seat because of skills shortages, etc. This law prevents a union from going to the bargaining table and demanding a 10 year agreement with a 10% wage increase every year for the next 10 years. It also prevents an employer from going to the bargaining a 10 year agreement with a 10 year wage freeze. Neither side can bring bargaining to an impasse over term exceeding 3 years.

6. Trent, I'm not sure where the question about "back to work" legislation comes from. That is not being contemplated here.

6. Hankr, similar "what" legislation? Mandatory votes? Wrong in 11 jurisdictions in Canada 5 have mandatory vote, and 6 (including Saskatchewan) have card majority systems.

7. When businesses are surveyed about things they consider before investing in a jurisdiction - labour laws are way down on the scale. In fact they are close to the last thing considered - if they are considered at all. Price of land, taxation, government incentives, climate, closeness to market, cost of buildings, availability of trained workforce, cost of utilities, access to raw materials, customer base, reliable suppliers, community, schools, health care facilities, return on investment, etc. --- all rate higher.

Hankr, you seem to think you know lots about me and my background. You don't know anything about me, or my background.

Thanks again for your comments.

Trent said...


Thanks for clarifying. However, when all the facts are laid out, as you have now done, I have to say that you are splitting hairs. Moving from a 25%, the lowest in Canada according to you, to 45%, tying the highest in Canada, is the dracnian measure you would have us believe.
I think Saskatchewan Unions should spent their time and money address why the citizens of Saskatchewan harbour such resentment towards unions in general. And don't try to blame the Saskatchewan Party for that one.

Larry Hubich said...

Thanks Trent,

If you check back over the coverage of this matter, I've not been suggesting that the threshold issue is a "draconian measure". In fact, it's the least problem of all, because in Saskatchewan unions don't file for certification with support that low. It's a moot point, and I've said that before. In fact just look back at my point #3 immediately above your last comment: "Set the threshold whereever you want - that's not the issue."

As for your other point - unions will never have enough money to fight the "negative stereotyping" and massive anti-union campaigns that are constantly being run by the major corporations and the media they own.

Google the words: "Union Avoidance" sometime - billions of dollars are spent every year to portray unions in a negative way. Whether they deserve it, or not.

Thanks for your comments.

Trent said...


The unions are doing the "negative stereotyping" all by themselves. As a former member of the Carpenters Locals 1985 & 1325 as well as being a Teamster, local 395, I can attest to the discontent union members harbor, let alone the non-union work force.
When you have a union leader convicted for savagely beating his girlfriend on a dessert country road, and the union chooses to keep him in power, you are going to get "negative stereotyping" far more severe than money can buy.
The case in which a unionized employee of the steel workers blows the whistle on fraudulent expense claims filed by the union leaders and is fired for doing so, even after her accusations are proven true and she has to go to the supreme court of Canada to get her job back, you will also get "negative stereotyping". I believe the NDP justice minister chose not to prosecute the union leaders in that case despite overwhelming evidence of guilt; more “negative stereotyping”.
I guess my re-occurring message in all my post on your blog is that the unions in this province have a lot of problems relating to their members and that they should address these issues before they start lecturing the democratically elected government Saskatchewan.

Larry Hubich said...

Hi Trent,

I am familiar with the cases you refer to. The one that you refer to as a steelworker case was actually a different union, not steel.

Unions are not perfect, and are also not immune from problems. From time to time situations such as you describe are bound to occur - but the vast, vast, vast majority of work done by unions on behalf of their members every day is totally positive and goes unnoticed, and unreported.

It's like 96% of all collective bargaining is resolved amicably without resorting to either strike or lock-out. But the only bargaining that makes the front page are those that end up in a dispute.

I will acknowledge that there is work to do to ensure that unions remain responsive and representative of their memberships. Some are doing a much better job at that then others.

That's where the members come in - they have a duty and responsibility to ensure that their union is doing what the members want. Through the democratic structures, and processes of the organization.

Is it easy? No. Can it be frustrating? Yes. But a strong, effective, responsive, representative and democratic union is worth the fight. The benefits far outweigh the alternatives.

Best wishes.

HankR said...


See? You can actually deal woth people in a respectful manner.

Why don't act this way with the Sask Party?