To the editor:
Stephen Harper’s majority government and Christy Clark’s provincial Liberal’s have forcibly dealt with Air Canada (two sectors), British Columbia teachers, and the Canadian post office in the last year or so. All of these organizations are unionized. All of these unions were legislated to go back to work with the threat of being charged with a criminal act if they participated in organized walkouts.
The general feeling I seemed to get from most people across Canada was simple: “Good. They should all go back to work. Unions are filled with lazy, demanding cry-babies.”
My mind is boggled by this notion, quite frankly, since the basic intent of unions is to protect the little guy. That is defined as the person who puts in a hard day’s work and deserves to be paid handsomely for it.
Of course there have been incredibly damaging situations where union members employed thuggish, bullying tactics to get their own way. However, I would not allow that minority to speak for everyone else. Corporate interests have pulled similar capers but they have fleets of lawyers to attend to their every need.
So, over time, unions have been categorically demonized and one can easily understand why: Businesses will now pay you less as a result of their demise.
The ideal union unites the everyday worker so they can link arms and stand together to negotiate their wages and quality of life. In its most basic form, unions are peaceful and democratic.
Most companies, by their very nature, are typically willing to pay you as little as they can to increase profit margins. It isn’t out of any nefarious intent since their methodology is simple—make more money.
Unions were created to unite the laborer, or the skilled worker, or the writer, etc. to fight for the rights of these people. Larger companies have made it their priority to bust unions by either fleeing to countries that are not prone to unionization or participating in slanderous campaigns against unions to create instability.
Big businesses want unions gone so they can continue to pay the little guy less and less. Soon this will reach epidemic proportions and local opinion leaders will come up with a brilliant idea—organize and negotiate. And the cycle continues.
All of this isn’t going to matter if Harper’s government and Clark’s Liberals continue to run roughshod over unions while some people applaud loudly, happy to see unions fail. Until, of course, that means the average worker is paid pennies above minimum wage, struggles to pay rent, is without benefits in a job that is nowhere near stable since the company is actively seeking someone who will work for less.
Unions make your neighbour your friend, not just your competition for the next job opening. Stand up for what you believe in and stand together. Unions are not the problem as plenty of them operate ethically and within reason, seeking fair wages and benefits for everyone under their collective umbrella. There will always be exceptions. Together we can make it the rule.
Brandon N. Taylor,