DATE: June 29, 2012
Mississauga, ON—The Progressive Conservative white paper “Paths to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets” has little to commend it says the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC).
“The PC white paper is a thinly veiled attempt to weaken the labour movement, rather than reform it,” says Hank Beekhuis, CLAC Ontario director. “It comes at a time when labour cooperation and participation are needed most.”
Using US growth statistics to bolster economic arguments is misleading at best, says Beekhuis. “The reason growth is higher in so-called right-to-work states is that wages in those states are half what they are in Ontario. They’ve wiped out the middle class who are the tax-paying backbone of the country. In spite of these regressive laws, many of these states continue to have substantial deficits. They’ve just moved them elsewhere.”
In some cases, wages have been driven so low that many people in right-to-work states are living a hand-to-mouth existence. In South Dakota, for example, an electrician makes less than a Tim Hortons worker in St. Johns or Fort McMurray.
“Growth at any price is not growth at all,” says Beekhuis. “It’s a true race to the bottom.”
Lower wages will also greatly impact government revenues. Ontario would have to create three $15 per hour jobs to replace every $30 per hour job lost just to maintain tax revenue. Since that is unlikely, and since low-paid workers depend more on government services, tax rates would need to be increased and services severely curtailed to keep deficits from spiralling out of control.
“We agree that labour reform is badly needed,” says Beekhuis. “We applaud the move to more open tendering practices. But the elimination of union protections that have been established for over seventy years will weaken the labour movement at a time when union cooperation is needed most.
“The current economic mess was not created by unions or workers. They should not have to shoulder the burden of fixing it.
“If workers are given a real chance to choose a union of their choice, many of the concerns expressed by the PCs would be fixed by workers themselves.”
Call one of our knowledgeable regional reps today to start the process of transforming your workplace into one marked by progressive labour relations.