Unions, time to hit fast forward.

Posted By: Ryan Doyle · 5/23/2012 6:40:00 PM

Tick, tick, tick…you hear that? It is the clock ticking on Canada’s unions. And when it hits zero, unions will be as relevant as those cassette tapes you can't seem to toss.

Once a strong, relevant voice for Canada’s working man, unions have become politically motivated, agenda-driven, anarchist supporting thugs that care more about maintaining power than they do the members who loyally pay their dues.

Take the latest student protests in Quebec.

Sid Ryan, the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, said he believes that it’s “disgraceful” that the Dalton McGuinty government allows the highest tuition rates in the country, far more expensive fees than those in Quebec.

Fair enough, but he didn't stop there.


He went on to do the predictable.

“We ought to have the students out there protesting,” Ryan said, while marching along Tuesday with student protesters in Montreal. “Maybe it’s time to get into the streets of Ontario and start the same kind of movement that they have in Quebec to demand that tuition be lowered and that we start working towards free university.”

If you are one of the 700,000 workers who belong to the OFL’s affiliated trade unions, you may be wondering what this has to do with you.

You may also be wondering why the OFL has said it is "likely" that they will join other unions in donating to the student protests in Quebec.  So far trade unions based outside Quebec have already confirmed sending more than $36,000 into the bank accounts of the province's largest student federations.

By taking this confrontational attitude, union leadership is failing to see the bigger picture. The more they head in this direction, the more you lose the support of the general public.

They are also failing to realize that the taxpayers in Ontario are currently subsidizing 70 percent of post secondary education in the province.

It won’t be too long before their own membership, radicals excluded, ask why they are funding protests, rallies and civil disobedience that does little to advance their place in this world.

The days of unionized Montreal shoemakers, or the Toronto printers of the 1830's, or even Norma Rae in the textile mill, are long gone.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t legitimate labor concerns in 2012.

Pensions, health benefits, job creation, those are all reasonable grievances for unions and their membership to be concerned about. In fact, those are issues that EVERY Canadian should be concerned about.

However in a world where all of our pay cheques are getting smaller, where the dollars we earn are getting harder to stretch, how long will it be until union members wake up out of their slumber and realize that the money they are handing over to their leadership for politically charged protests would be better served in their own bank accounts.


It's time to fast forward, and get past that antiquated idea of the all-mighty union. Toss that nostalgic notion and evolve.

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  1. Mark posted on 05/23/2012 08:39 PM
    Hey Ryan, you and Jerry seem to hold similar views. You're both pro big business and anti average joe worker. We should just all stand idly by while big businesses move their whole Labour market offshore into slave labour friendly countries. Maybe one day it will cost you your job. Then perhaps you'll sing a different toon.

    1. GregH_5652 posted on 05/24/2012 07:17 AM
      @Mark Well, Mark, the union didn't help Electro-Motive Deisel employees when they up and moved from London to Indiana. Didn't help Ford Talbotville employees when they shuttered that plant. Unions' time has passed. We have labour laws, the MOL, WSIB and other bodies to protect us. Also, Ryan seems to be decidedly PRO worker when he says they should keep more of their money rather than funding special interests.
    2. ArtC posted on 05/24/2012 11:56 AM
      @Mark Ryan at least can possibly be talked to and shown the light on what organized labour and it's workers did to grow this country and provide a good life for families to better themselves and their children, he's young enough to learn some sense. Jerry on the other hand i would simply have deported ASAP back to the land of corrupt capitalists.
  2. ctwr9-11 posted on 05/24/2012 08:43 AM
    This IS the new reality... not all that new. But common sense is not so common anymore.

    Apparently Sid Ryan and too many others still don't get it . This "old" Union mentality is really old, compounding our problems One need look no further than our American neighbours, Greece and the rest of Europe to see where Canada is headed if we stay this course. Do we really have to reach that point ... of no return?

    It seems clear that unions have outlived their usefulness. They no longer unite ~ but divide and destroy. The pendulum will swing past any hope of recovery if we don't make critical changes now. There is plenty of corruption in government and big business in almost every sector to bring us all down. Unchecked, both factions will surely deliver the worst depression the world has ever seen.

    We have to stop the greed, repeating past mistakes to find a practical fix for our dying global economy. It starts with a shift in this entitled attitude by everyone. Until all sides choose to compromise, give back instead of constantly taking, genuinely work together, act with collective integrity to serve the greater good, then... the future will be grim for everyone.
    1. SteveB_10 posted on 05/24/2012 12:03 PM
      @ctwr9-11 As far as I know Germany, Austria, Norway, Demark, Sweden and Finland are in Europe, and doing better than any countries in the G20.
  3. MichaelP posted on 05/24/2012 09:05 AM
    I'm pro union and Ryan is not wrong at all. Unions should be worried about their members and not be wasting the money collected from workers on matters like this. It is not the job of union leadership to blow hard earned dollars on their own personal political causes.
  4. calvinhc posted on 05/24/2012 11:32 AM
    The problem with unions is that, in the minds of their leaders, the union had become the end in itself instead of a means to an end.

    Unions are supposed to be there for their members. Not just first, but ONLY for their members. Instead, much of the union leadership believe that it is the union movement itself that is their reason for existing. Members be damned.

    I leaned this some 16 years ago when I worked for an institute for higher learning and a strike deadline was on the horizon. Post-secondary institution support staff basically can only effectively strike the first week of September, otherwise they will be on strike until the next first week of September. Reaching a deal was important, but our local did not do the talking at the table, but instead brought in a negotiator from the union's head office.

    Just one problem: at that time the staff of the union was on strike against the union. Our local executive had to decide to either relocate the negotiations and have the negotiator effectively cross his picket line in order to get a deal while a strike threat was really a threat, or put off negotiations until their strike was settled.

    Sanity prevailed and our executive chose the latter, but one of the members was so horrified that our local would do this to a "union brother" that it was necessary for the membership to know about this before voting on a contract that was negotiated under such a tainted environment. The membership voted overwhelmingly to accept the contract, because negotiating it WAS THE JOB OF THE LOCAL. It was not their job to support the union movement.
    1. calvinhc posted on 05/24/2012 11:34 AM
      @calvinhc I should have said, "... our executive chose the former." They continued the negotiations despite the strike against the union.
  5. SteveB_10 posted on 05/24/2012 12:02 PM
    Well the Canadian unions dont seem to have much traction. What they should be doing is looking to their comrades in Germany and northern Europe. There Unions rule and rule well.
  6. g posted on 05/24/2012 12:44 PM
    Union leaders seem to think I am responsible, not only for ensuring University and College staff are hightly paid with great pensions, but that I also provide free education to anyone who wants it. How deep does Sid think my pockets are? Unions are driving up the costs of post secondary education while encouraging students to riot against the costs. What an agenda.
  7. Will posted on 05/24/2012 01:16 PM
    I belong to OPSEU (not by choice). Instead of doing what unions are supposed to do, i.e. represent the dues-paying members, here's a sample of where my union dues are going:
    -delegations are being sent around the world (Columbia, Africa)
    -a yearly $2,000,000 "conference", only for union big-wigs and their families, held at the Royal York Hotel
    -set up a women's committee, an aboriginal committee, a human rights committee, a rainbow alliance, a workers of colour committee, a francophone caucus, a political action committee (yes, they tell us who to vote for)
    -they donated to and participated in the illegal occupation by St. james Park
    Now I'm waiting to see if they're getting involved in the illegal violent protests in Montreal...
    To top it off, my local president, who is supposed to do the same job that I do, spends 95% of every day working on union related issues, not the job that taxpayers pay him to do.
    1. calvinhc posted on 05/25/2012 08:48 AM
      @Will That does not surprise me. In my experience, it is not unusual for people that end up as part of the executive of a union local that somehow see their union work as thier career. What do you do? I'm a shop steward for my local union? Yea, but what do you do for a living? I work for the union local.

      The member in my story above who was horrified that our local would do the job they were supposed to do, instead of support the union movement by delaying our negotiations until they became irrelevant, is one such individual.
  8. tommy muldouglewis posted on 05/27/2012 01:06 AM
    Sid Ryan for Prime Minister!!
    1. DanM_2681 posted on 05/28/2012 02:32 PM
      @tommy muldouglewis He tried twice by running under the NDP banner in Oshawa (the blue collar capital of Canada) but couldn't get elected. That's how irrelevant and out of touch with the working man and woman he is.
  9. Jim posted on 05/27/2012 10:52 AM
    For those that think unions are greedy and contributing to the decline of our country and jobs, why is it the fact there is a bigger cause of our problems that stems from the beginning of our dominion is always left out of the conversation. Is it because or Canadian media is now totally biased? http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rense.com%2Fgeneral63%2Ftcs.htm&h=CAQFL_UC2
  10. Jim posted on 05/27/2012 10:58 AM
    sorry here it is
    What You Didn't Know
    About Taxes & The 'Crown'
  11. CampbellP posted on 05/30/2012 08:38 AM
    Having been a union steward and a health and safety representitive for 7 plus years back in the 1990s, I have experienced the full breadth and width of a union's purpose in the workforce.
    I have to say that without the union, there would have been positions filled by whoever the management wanted and without fair hiring practices. Throughout the years, I saw applications declined by qualified workers and the only way they either got training or interviewed for the job, was to file a grievance.
    Any of you that think a business would be run fairly without the union backing you up are in full denial.
    Universities are a business now and much more than just about education. If we see the universities for what they are, we would be ashamed with the amount of money they wittle away and we would all realize that there needs to be a referendum on their spending and their budgets.
    I have worked in non-union places since my days as a city worker and am now back in a union again. The comparison is mind-blowing.
    Unions need to protect us when we are not fairly dealt with, which happens constantly in the non-union environment, the alternative is just lump it and get on with it and ignore the nepotism and favouritism.
    1. calvinhc posted on 06/01/2012 10:21 AM
      @CampbellP Even with unions, positions are filled all the time by people that management wanted in the first place. As the saying goes, "it's not what you know, but who you know." The presence of unions simply means that management has to jump through extra hoops to get what they want. Unfortunately, we cannot bill the unions for the extra time this costs.

      I can say this because I have been a first-hand witness to it occurring in a union shop. The first time was when I was the individual that management wanted for the position, and the second was when I applied for another position and someone else was the preferred candidate. That's life, and I moved on. I did ask for clarification of the reason I was turned down, as it related to the current position I was in. The result of that inquiry was that HR practically sh*tted a square brick with fear that I was going to file a grievance.
  12. Justin R posted on 05/30/2012 10:35 AM
    I've been saying this for months, unions are obsolete and harmful in this country. The sooner we can get rid of them, the sooner we can advance as a nation. In fact, there's a petition out there to repeal the right for unions to strike in Canada! Let's take a big step into the future, folks.
    1. Justin R posted on 05/30/2012 10:40 AM
      @Justin R Here's the link to the petition, if you're interested: http://www.tinyurl.com/we-can-advance
  13. proton posted on 05/30/2012 01:54 PM
    the amount of wasteful employment resulting from union rules specifying who can do what only serves to force a bloated workforce resulting in greater union revenue which requires increased taxation. It's an industry unto itself funded by taxpayers and consumers (in the case of non-government industry).

    What I find truly odious is the membership forced upon workers who don't want to join a union. If the union were so great why wouldn't the employees join?

    That should be the next piece of legislation government passes
    1. calvinhc posted on 06/01/2012 10:36 AM
      @proton That is known as "right to work" legislation. If I am not mistaken, the state of Tennessee used to (maybe still does) promote itself as the "closest state to Canada with right to work legislation".

      Getting back to wasteful employment and union rules about who can do what, have you seen the movie "Carry On at Your Convenience"?

      It was a Carry On gang film set at the "WC Boggs' Lavatory" factory. One of the characters what the union steward and was always shutting down the line for violations of the collective agreement, which he always had a copy on him. When the factory was starting production of a bidet, two workers were being trained on how to install the combination drain/faucet fixture when he walked in on them and ordered the plant to shut down for violations. You see, one of the workers was a drain fitter and the other was a faucet fitter. If each of these workers installed a combination drain/faucet, then they would each be doing work that was not in their job description, and this violated the collective agreement.

      This is not far removed from some of the things one still sees.
  14. Richard Collins posted on 06/04/2012 07:59 AM
    Unions are nothing more than legitimized criminal gangs. When a public transit union decides among themselves, with no input from the public, to deprive students, single mothers, and the elderly of the transportation they depend on until the unions list of demands are met, somehow that's considered "bargaining." If you or I shut down a city's public transit in that fashion, we'd be labeled terrorists on the evening news.
  15. Eli posted on 12/12/2012 08:39 PM
    We, the Union Members will wrok hard to convince our colleagues not to vote Conservative or Liberal in future elections. I honestly believe our large numbers will make a difference. I agree that some unions take advantage of the system, but some companies require unions, because we are treated so very iunfairly by our management. If only U worked where I do, U would understand and believe me you would agree with me.
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