PAGE A4 – June 2010 – The Ottawa Construction News GUEST COLUMN:
Merit Contractors support Labour Relations Act amendments
Editor’s note: The Ottawa Construction News supports a diversity of opinions and values within the construction in- dustry. We are happy to give “equal space” in upcoming issues to representatives of the organized labour move- ment.
DAVE MCDONALD – President, Merit OpenShop Contractors Association
An interesting and positive development occurred re- cently in the Provincial Legislature. Randy Hillier, the Conservatives’ Labour critic, introduced a Bill proposing an Amendment to the Labour Relations Act that would ban the use of compulsory union dues for political purposes, without getting the individual consent of the employee. In other words a union can engage in political activity but the money used must be raised by voluntary contributions by employees to the cause. This is not regressive, but pro- gressive as it protects the Fundamental Charter Rights of Freedom of Speech and Freedom from Compelled Associ- ation that are established rights in most of the world. This Bill can be seen to target the funding of the Work- ing Families Coalition, a Building Trades front group, which has raised and spent millions in TV attack ads against the Conservatives during the last two elections to ensure the Liberals are elected. Patrick Dillon, the head of the Provincial Building Trades, is the spokesman for the Coalition and the Election Finance Disclosure for the group can be found on our website under “WFC.” The Building Trades and the Liberals are dismissive because it is contrary to their economic and political inter- ests. They claim the Bill is regressive and anti union, but the truth is the complete opposite. Numerous Constitu- tional decisions in Canada, the United States and Europe in the last 20 years have made it clear that compulsory union dues of an employee cannot be used for political action the individual opposes. In a practical sense, what could be more clear and fair? Take the hypothetical case of a qualified Electrician named Joe, living in Toronto who wants to work on pub- licly tendered construction projects. To do so, he must join the Electrical Union, the IBEW, as The City of Toronto is signatory to the IBEW. In the Toronto Wage Schedule of the IBEW, the employer must make contributions in Joe’s name to various “Funds” totalling over a $1.25 an hour over and above his “dues.” The money can be spent at the complete discretion of the IBEW management and Joe will not get an accounting of how his money is spent. The IBEW is a major contributor to the Working Families Coalition, so Joe who dislikes the Liberals is essentially forced against his wishes to contribute around $2000/year to Funds that may be used to politically support the Liber- als. This cannot be contributed directly to a Political Party because of legislated maximums. It’s pretty clear why Con- stitutional Courts worldwide have decided that his Funda- mental Human Rights are being violated. As much as the Labour movement claims to the contrary, the rights of Col- lective Bargaining do not give the union the right to tram- ple on the Charter rights of individual members. As much as the Law can be a complicated process, virtually every- one can see the absurdity of the situation and agree. One of the underlying democratic principles build into the Law is ‘“the rule of the majority and the protection of the minority.” That principle is being violated in Ontario and it is the purpose of Merit to fight for those rights and those of everyone else in Ontario by getting fair and equi- table treatment for all under the rule of Law. And that is why Mr. Hillier’s Bill is progressive and we
support it. viewpoint Publisher’s Mark Buckshon
President, Construction News and Report Group of Companies
Some days things are great; some times things aren’t so wonderful. In 20 years in business, I’ve experienced more than my fair share of ups and downs, surprises, blunders, exhuberant “highs” and devastating flops. Of course, I chose this life. I could have stayed in the federal government (a public relations/writing job with what is now Human Resources Development Canada brought me to the region in 1981) but I know that if I had stayed in the Government, I would have lost the joy and satisfaction of life and denied my own values and prin- ciples.
This issue goes to press with a few rather major be- hinds-the-scenes glitches, for example. You won’t see them (hopefully) but I’ve had to burn some midnight oil to revise situations and reshape our processes to ensure everything goes well. This is something of an art: You need to be proactive, responsive, a great “fire putter outer” and still maintain a brave face that everything is normal, when behind the scenes you are grititng your teeth and fighting the battle. I’m not complaining. Sometimes the surprises and shocks out of left field can be fun, if you enjoy a little drama in your life. For example, an angry Internet fraud- ster in Southern California decided to take me on by ru-
ining my relationship with Google. The cast of charac- ters in this story defies any level of probability including supporters in Britain, Canada (one lives in Orillia), the U.S. And Pakistan. A California maid referral service and and (of all things) a Swedish heavy metal rock band also fit into the tale with moral overtones of an epic fight between Good and Evil (even though the actual financial consequences of this chaos are onlya few hundred dol- lars a month at present.)
Self-employed people and entrepreneurs who survive and thrive in business appreciate their success and chal- lenges are never in isolation; we msut work with em- ployees, suppliers, clients and often competitors in a constant juggling act while ensuring our life has balance and our businesses keep in touch with changing trends and realities. I don’t regret the process one bit.
Construction News and Report Group of Companies President Mark Buckshon publishes a daily blog at constructionmarketingideas.com
and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone at 888-432-3555 ext 224.
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