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Fines: No - John Mortimer, Canadian Labour Watch Association

Discussion about the issue of Unions fining their members.
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NC
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Postby NC » Thu Jul 06, 2006 10:34 am

the union CAN kick you out, and can stop you from voting on the day to day running of the union, but they can NOT stop you from voting in a strike vote...
They can in Saskatchewan: http://www.cupwnewvision.org/slrbscabs.htm
Correct me if I'm wrong, but every strike vote I have ever attended they check off whether or not you are a member in good standing first. Rand members aren't admitted to the meeting and can't vote. How can you vote on a contract ratification if you are not a member in good standing? That mail order ballot was not the norm nor was it done properly.
Oh, and Finian, Sask is the only province with this sort of legislation.


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Postby finian » Thu Jul 06, 2006 2:48 pm

Don't try to figure this one out folks.
There's nothing to figure out. It's pretty straightforward.
Each province has its own Act, and federally regulated employers and another. Telus is Federal
True this is why the B.C. Anti-scab legislation didn't directly apply to TELUS or Canada Post. However, indirectly it does have implications. This is why federal anti-scab legislation continues to resurface. Kind of like how one Supreme Court decision opened the way for same sex marriage. Chuck Cadman stated that legislation was inevitable after the court decision though he preferred the term partnership not marriage. Nevertheless a Canadian Provincial ruling has more implications here than an Australian Federal ruling which is not relevant because as you state reflects and entirely different collective agreement.

The simple fact is that at any contract ratification meeting there are people at the door with lists of Union members in good standing. If you are a member in good standing and have ID you sign in, they check your name off the list and you are allowed to enter the meeting to discuss the contract whereupon you will receive a ballot to vote on the contract. If you are not a member in good standing you are not admitted to the meeting and do not receive a ballot. It's as simple as that.

The reason that Replacement workers were bussed in by the truckload to vote on the TELUS contract in Calgary was because the locals had not completed their tribunals were replacement workers were charged and tried for violating their constitution. If those tribunals were not delayed and the replacement workers were tried and found guilty, they would not have been able to vote at that meeting without having paid their fine since failure to pay their fine would result in a loss of their Member In Good Standing status. The mail order ballot where replacement workers received a ballot at work was totally illegal and can still be challenged by the courts.

Trying to change our system into the Australian system is a separate issue. Despite the fact that is a model you would prefer that is not the model we currently have. To this end, I would submit that the Saskatchewan decision is very relevant: http://www.cupwnewvision.org/slrbscabs.htm
This will be a fight worth being involved in.
You've got to be kidding. Worth being involved in if you are an employee and want to stop it. Worth supporting if you are an employer and want to be able to exploit wage labour. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not all Union as I am a big supporter of democracy and accountability within the labour movement. However, stop to think for one minute where we would be without Unions or collective bargaining.

It was collective bargaining, which won employees the right to a paid coffee break. Stat holidays, overtime rates, maternity benefits the list goes on. Unless you are an employer who want to be able to exploit their employees being anti Union is somewhat counter productive as a Union’s ultimate goal is to improve the wages, benefits and working conditions of it’s employees. Notwithstanding internal flaws of greed, politics and distorted priorities.

Nevertheless, any time a Union raises the wages or benefits for their employees, it raises the bar for all employees in our system based on supply and demand. I used to work for Cressy Development. It was nonUnion but paid close to Union wages and benefits because that was what the competitors were paying. If employees devote their lives to being anti-Union, they are shooting themselves in the foot and lowering the standard of wages and benefits for all employees.



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Postby NC » Fri Jul 07, 2006 10:47 am

Sorry Finian, here we part company.

The unions of today did not bring us coffee breaks, 8 hour days, weekends, and fair wages. Groups of employees banding together and forcing employers and government to enact labour standards are what brought us those things.

The “union” of those times is gone, though the ideal is a constant source of ammunition for the business unions of today. Today the loudest cry anyone hears from those remaining in a business union is, “Help we need protection from the corrupt money grubbing union”. Hundreds and hundreds of cases of unresolved DFR (Duty of Fair Representation) cases clog the labour courts of our country. A nearly comparable number of Unfair Labour Practices are now being filed against UNIONS not employers.

Unions of the turn of the century to about the 60’s served their purpose well, and THEY are the people who fought and won the battles to enact empowerment laws for the worker. Rare is the modern union that keeps these ideals in sight, and implements them.

Today's large unions are businesses, they make billions in dues and levies and special assessments. They support hundreds and hundreds of staffers and executives in lifestyles far above those of their members, and they do so under the guise of protecting the employee and their rights?

Abuse of workers is considers so heinous these days and communication so great that we hear of things halfway around the world. Workers are being taken advantage of in many places, but not for long, and they can take their fight to a variety of ombudsmen and win the day, without dealing with business unions.

I read of two cases recently, and subsequently read them to my kids, where union in BC helped the workers. One group of care home workers was WAY below par, another was a construction (?) mining (?) operation where immigrant workers were being paid ½ what other employees were making. In both cases the employees became unionized, or joined the existing union.

In these cases group action and the power of a collective is truly valuable. NOT however in a bank in Toronto Ontario. The business unions see opportunity for income, not opportunity to end oppression. They sow the seeds of oppression, they tell people they are being taken advantage of, even though the people do not agree. When certification drives are loosing by ½% and entire communities are being ripped apart the union is not serving its intended purpose.

I have personally spoken with union representatives who lied right to my face about job action they were taking. I drive past a picket line twice a week and the workers in that store are NOT supportive of them. These “picketers” are only intent on ruining the business taking place. They have no thought for the good of the collective, they have no concern for the health of the community, they want dues, they have political agendas, and they do not mind killing a business to get those things for themselves.

Sorry Finian, business unions are harmful, and soon the large ones will try to throw off that image, watch for the signs of it, if you look closely you can see the creature shifting in its skin. The large union congresses are already fracturing over the fight for the dwindling dues. One side is blowing the Human Rights horn, the other wants to focus on increasing membership.

All the big unions are in the dark together, ringing the bell and blowing the horn of Wal-Mart the dreaded killer of wages and oppressor of human rights. They can hear the oppression all around them, and smell the fear of it, but I think they need only switch on the light and look in the mirror to find source.


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Postby finian » Fri Jul 07, 2006 1:04 pm

Sorry Finian, here we part company.
Agreed. No two people agree on ever issue. Likewise no two people disagree on every issue. Some things I agree with you completely. However, your fundamental conclusion I do not.
The unions of today did not bring us coffee breaks, 8 hour days, weekends, and fair wages. Groups of employees banding together and forcing employers and government to enact labour standards are what brought us those things.
This is why I used the term collective bargaining. You use the term employees banding together. It is that act to which I refer. You concede that at one time that is what Unions did but conclude that greedy business Unions have lost sight of that objective. I agree that corruption exists within most Unions. No church or political organization is perfect. People are imperfect and any organization of people will also be imperfect. That doesn’t mean that the any attempt by any organization of people to make bad people good or good people better is wrong.

I served a mission in Northern Ireland once. People would vent and argue look at what religion has done to our country? Religion causes war and strife. To this end, the Communist Manifesto argues that for that reason we should eliminate religion. Despite the legitimacy of their observations, I disagree with their conclusion. I am a passionate believer in that people have the right to have or not have a religious affiliation. Just because some religious institutions are corrupt does not in my opinion mean we should ban all religions. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right.

I will agree that working conditions in the past were much worse and the need for Unions greater. It was the working conditions of the Industrial revolution that gave rise to the need of Unions or rather employees banding together. It was also those same working conditions and time period that gave rise to the Communist Manifesto which I believe to be a fundamentally flawed document whose conclusions consistently create an environment which the document was created to oppose notwithstanding their good intentions.
I read of two cases recently, and subsequently read them to my kids, where union in BC helped the workers. One group of care home workers was WAY below par, another was a construction (?) mining (?) operation where immigrant workers were being paid ½ what other employees were making. In both cases the employees became unionized, or joined the existing union.
Here you cite one modern example of how a Union or more importunity how employees banding together can make a positive change despite risk and opposition. I agree this is a good example.
In these cases group action and the power of a collective is truly valuable. NOT however in a bank in Toronto Ontario.
Interesting observation about banks. Banks make the most profits of almost all industries currently because of our inability to handle consumer debt yet continue to lay off staff to part time hours to save on benefits. Me thinks that with all the corporate obsession with profits and disregard for employees that employees banding together is needed now just as much as it was in the Industrial revolutions. Look at the price of housing now compared to the average wage. What was within reach for a single family on one income a generation ago is completely out of reach now. I don’t see those workers as greedy pigs with no regard for their fellow being. I just see them as struggling individuals and families wanting a decent life for their children.
The business unions see opportunity for income, not opportunity to end oppression. They sow the seeds of oppression, they tell people they are being taken advantage of, even though the people do not agree. When certification drives are loosing by ½% and entire communities are being ripped apart the union is not serving its intended purpose.
I will completely concede that corruption exists within most Unions and it’s up to the members to change it. Apathy of members and greed of Union officials will kill the labour movement completely and continue to see wage lose ground as the middle class continue to disappear.
Sorry Finian, business unions are harmful, All the big unions are in the dark together,
You have some very valid points. I just think that is a gross stereotype and stereotypes one way or the other are incomplete.

What do you think of CLAC: http://www.clac.ca/index.asp

Is that another corrupt Union? Cheers.



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Postby finian » Fri Jul 07, 2006 1:08 pm

Very interesting discussion. However the point was that me thinks that if a member is found guilty of crossing a legal picketline and is fined according to that Unions constitution and does not pay that fine, then that member loses their member in good standing status and cannot vote at the ratification of the next contract.



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Postby dante666 » Fri Jul 07, 2006 2:30 pm

Very interesting discussion. However the point was that me thinks that if a member is found guilty of crossing a legal picketline and is fined according to that Unions constitution and does not pay that fine, then that member loses their member in good standing status and cannot vote at the ratification of the next contract.
I think I tend to agree with you Finian, barring anyone being able to show a constituion, or provincial/federal law that states otherwise. Federal/Provincial law trumps any constitiuion exept the Canadian Constituion... wich is the law....


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Postby green1 » Fri Jul 07, 2006 9:31 pm

during the dispute I had handy the particular sections of the federal labour code that state that ALL employees (not just members in good standing) get to vote on a strike vote... I can't be bothered at the moment to look it up, but I do know it's there, and during the strike I had the full section available.

suffice it to say that it is 100% illegal for a union to prevent non-member employees from voting in a strike vote. it is also 99% likely that the union would do so anyway, and highly unlikely that those who were wronged would go to all the effort of fighting it... which is what the union counts on (that and their complete disregard for the law)



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Postby finian » Sun Jul 09, 2006 11:18 am

I can't be bothered at the moment to look it up, but I do know it's there, and during the strike I had the full section available.
You have got to be kidding. "I know it's there but I can't be bothered looking it up and citing the reference." That statement has no credibility at all. When you go to court to appeal the union's decision to not allow people to attend ratification meetings unless they are members in good standing as the past practice has existed within the labour movement for generations, you will tell the judge "I know it's there but I can't be bothered looking it up and citing the reference." I don't think the judge will accept that. You can stand at the door of the ratifacation meeting and use rage and denial to prove your point but that still falls short. All you have to do is cite the reference. It's that simple.
suffice it to say that it is 100% illegal for a union to prevent non-member employees from voting in a strike vote.
This is simple a false statement.
it is also 99% likely that the union would do so anyway, and highly unlikely that those who were wronged would go to all the effort of fighting it... which is what the union counts on (that and their complete disregard for the law)
That is an opinion based on a false premise and is therefore slander.



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Postby finian » Sun Jul 09, 2006 11:29 am

(3) A vote held under subsection (1) or (2) must be conducted in such a manner as to ensure that those employees or employers who are eligible to vote are given a reasonable opportunity to participate in the vote and to be informed of the results.
Canadian Labour code Section 87.3: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/L-2/248758.html

"eligible to vote" means "eligible to vote." Therefore it is not illegal for a Trade Union to deny members who are not eligible to vote to vote at a strike vote.



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Postby green1 » Sun Jul 09, 2006 4:10 pm

I never said I would go to court without the section in hand, and I never meant the fact that I know the truth to be something that would convince you. I don't need you to believe me for me to know I'm right...

and as I will not be in court on this matter in the forseable future (at least not for the next few days...) I haven't bothered to look it up again, however I'm pretty sure it hasn't changed since last year when I did.

and as I do have other things in my life that wasting my time worrying about some silly union, I haven't had time to look it up. if I'm bored sometime I'll dig it up again... we'll see...

'till then, believe whatever you want to believe, that doesn't make it any more right...



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Postby finian » Sun Jul 09, 2006 4:17 pm

I don't need you to believe me for me to know I'm right...
Here's the act: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/L-2/248758.html
When you get a chance, please cite the reference.



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Postby green1 » Sun Jul 09, 2006 4:37 pm

87.3 (1) Unless a lockout not prohibited by this Part has occurred, a trade union may not declare or authorize a strike unless it has, within the previous sixty days, or any longer period that may be agreed to in writing by the trade union and the employer, held a secret ballot vote among the employees in the unit and received the approval of the majority of the employees who voted.
employees in the bargaining unit, not members of the union, from the definitions in the act:
“bargaining unit” means a unit
(a) determined by the Board to be appropriate for collective bargaining, or
(b) to which a collective agreement applies;
nowhere in the act does it say you must be a member in good standing of the union, only that you must be in the bargaining unit.

therefore, the only way the union could block someone from voting would be to ensure that the collective agreement wouldn't apply to that person, and being that Canadian law doesn't allow a person to opt out of the bargaining unit, only out of the union, it seems pretty clear that everyone is allowed to vote...

The union can block you from voting on who runs the union, they can block you from voting on how much you pay in dues, or any of a million other things, but they can't *legally* block you from voting in a strike vote (once again, we all know how much the union cares about the whole "legally" part)

and hey, if we want to look at it from your point of view where only members of the union can vote, then this section would mean that only members in good standing would be allowed to strike:
(2) No employee shall participate in a strike unless
(a) the employee is a member of a bargaining unit in respect of which a notice to bargain collectively has been given under this Part; and
(b) the requirements of subsection (1) have been met in respect of the bargaining unit of which the employee is a member.
so I guess if I can't vote, then I *MUST* cross the picket line. right?



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Postby NC » Sun Jul 09, 2006 8:10 pm

Green... I know that is the case, and you are correct. The CLC makes sure that if you are affected by the CA, you vote to ratify it, and you vote for stirkes too I think.

What you are not allowed to vote on is the executive, issues relating to the union. On matters relating to the bargaining unit, you're in.


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Postby finian » Sun Jul 09, 2006 8:35 pm

87.3(1) does just say employee but how can you get in to attend a strike vote if you are not a member in good standing? IMO 87.3(3) then applies. Those who are eligible to vote.



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Postby NC » Sun Jul 09, 2006 8:39 pm

You often can't. That's why the unions don't like mail in votes, everyone is assured a vote. They will usually hold the vote very quickly, in a remote location. This ensures they get the sort of results they can control.


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