It’s about time that the issue of worker representation in Ontario is given a lot more attention. Unions are supposed to be in place to ensure that their members are treated fairly by their employer, that’s it. When an individual joins, or is forced to join, the union at their employer then that employee has the confidence and security that their safety and rights are protected. So, are the public-sector unions fulfilling this mandate?Certainly not over the past couple of decades.
As public sector unions all over Western society grew in strength and held their employers (the tax payers) for ransom they were also setting themselves up for a great problem. After all, once you get everything you want what else is there to fight for? This is the trap that these unions have set for themselves since any new demands clearly demonstrate that they have no respect for the tax payer. So how is the taxpayer supposed to respect the wishes of the union? We don’t.
For the most part unionized workers stay quiet and let their leaders speak on their behalf, but what happens when those leaders behave in a way that doesn’t reflect the majority of the member’s ideologies? This is where the unionized workers are trapped today. They have no choice but to stand behind their leaders’ sometimes idiotic statements, and then they have to defend their position to family, friends, and neighbours who may not have the benefit of a unionized employer.
Many of Ontario’s teachers, as one good example, are in such a predicament right now. With one exception, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, the remaining unions, with support from CUPE, have declared a war on funding cuts. So, teachers, how will you defend your union’s actions to your family, friends, and relatives? What will you say at the neighbourhood bbq when someone asks why you’re threatening to strike? What will you tell them when they ask what more do you want from average taxpayers? Your choices are:
1) We deserve the raise and the extraordinary perks that we are demanding.
2) I’m fine with the deal we currently have and would be glad to do my part to help support our Provincial economy but my union is doing what it wants and doesn’t speak for me.
3) What do you mean?
Answer #1 will most likely get you exposed for the fool that you are and leave you alone in the corner with no friends.
Answer #2 will lead to the question of why your union is allowed to take a stupid position on your behalf. This is a tough question as it exposes the real problem with our system that nobody wants to talk about. You are either in the minority and the majority of members are completely out of touch with reality, or you are in the silent majority and the loud minority is making you all look like a bunch of greedy pigs.
Answer #3, well just don’t go there.
Neither answer #1 nor #2 will make you feel comfortable so its best to avoid any discussions along these lines. Change the subject or move on to another group so that you won’t be in a position to defend the indefensible.
The core problem is that union members are very happy to have some loud mouth make threats on their behalf as long as they themselves don’t get their hands dirty. In private discussions the vast majority of public-sector unionized workers say they would be happy to keep what they have, but in reality they will gladly let their leaders push the tax payer to the edge of the cliff on their behalf.
The unions, rightfully so, should be proud of what they have achieved over the dacades with regards to employee safety and adequate compensation. One result of their efforts is that they have the upper hand in all negotiations because we as the taxpayers have no ‘Plan B’, there is no way to fight union demands when there are no other service provision options. This situation can work as long as both sides at the table have mutual respect and both work for mutual success, but this is not what we have. Just because you have control over a situation, such as the neighbourhood tough guy, doesn’t mean you have to exercise that control. Once you exercise control you move from just being a tough guy to being a bully.
This is exactly where we find ourselves today. The public-sector unions were the tough guys and most have crossed the line to being a bully. Not many people want the local bully at the neighbourhood social.
The problem with being a local bully is that there is always the threat of someone bigger than you showing up to put you in your place. Ontario’s public-sector unions, starting with the teachers, should immediately stand down and volunteer to work with the government to get our financial mess under control. This is the same mess that these unions have helped to create by previously crossing the “tough guy-bully” line. Failing that, a new tough guy may just move into the neighbourhood and teach the bullies some tough lessons they will not soon forget.
Unions have to make a decision between strengthening the walls against a new tough guy or building a bridge leading to honest and open discussions and mutual success. Sadly, generally speaking, Ontario’s public-sector unions have no idea how to build a bridge and are preparing for a battle. A battle that they have no hope of winning. A battle that will expose the unions for the thugs that they are and alienate their members from their private sector family, friends, and neighbours.
The OMA better take note as well.