Monday, March 27, 2006

Unions Meddling In No One's Business

In the classic story of unions meddling in no one’s business, the Canadian Auto Worker’s Union has taken the tale even further, illustrating what is so wrong with unions invading a member’s private political space. defines a labour union as “an organization of wage earners formed for the purpose of serving the members’ interests with respect to wages and working conditions”. So with this mandate, why do unions feel it is their prerogative to get involved in partisan politics?

CAW’s highest authority, its Executive Council has unanimously adopted a resolution encouraging members to shun the NDP federally and provincially because the Party expelled CAW President, Buzz Hargrove. Don’t get me wrong – what is bad for the NDP here is good for us Liberals, but my main concern isn’t political gain, but rather justice. Here’s what I see wrong with this picture:

1. There are two things that unions are compelled to look after: member’s wages and work environment. Anything beyond that, such as supporting a particular party or candidate, is beyond a union’s jurisdiction and should be none of their business. Unions ought to serve like all other non-profit organizations and not get involved with politics.

2. Big Labour’s practice of using members’ dues for political purposes without their consent represents a serious infringement of political freedom. When a union coerces a member into giving his or her money through forced dues to a candidate he does not support, that member’s fundamental political liberty has been desecrated.

3. Unions were created to have a democratizing affect. Organized labour began with the purpose of giving a backbone to the ordinary working class citizen and a better chance of bargaining for better wages and benefits. Somewhere along the lines, unions came to think that it was okay to push their ideas on their membership by asking them to vote a certain way, forcing the membership to pay dues which in turn get funneled to political parties or just simply inundating them with propaganda. True, unions were organized to protect a worker from big business, but who will protect the worker from big unions?

Indeed unions have truly served our communities by protecting workers, giving them a voice and forcing employers to treat them with dignity and respect. I think everyone who works or has worked in Canada owes some gratitude to unions for creating the work environment we now have instead of continuing to live alongside a reality of child labour, poor work environments, lack of respect and so on. However, when it comes to partisan politics, I think unions are doing more harm than good.


At 4:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey great post. Love what you said. Hate unions.


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