Bargaining rights to loom over convention

It's a remarkable feat. 

A special group in the Conservative Party sifted through all the policy proposals submitted by riding associations to debate at the party convention with a goal of tossing out the duplicate ones. But the group still managed to keep nine proposals that are variations on one theme: undermine bargaining rights.

There’s the call for “right to work” legislation for optional union membership from the riding of Perth-Wellington. Calgary-Nose Hill wants to spell out that the Conservative Party “believes that mandatory union membership and forced financial contributions as a condition of employment limit the economic freedom of Canadians and stifle economic growth.”

The riding of Ahuntsic wants to make clear that “unions meddle in political affairs” and “their finances are not transparent.” That’s why the Conservatives must address “the opacity of the financing of trade unions and compulsory membership of these unions for their members within the limits of federal jurisdiction.”

The riding of Alfred-Pellan wants the Conservative Party to “strive to properly restructure legislative protection of the Rand formula so as to provide full and effective protection to the right of all workers not to associate with broad political positions that they deem oppressive of their respective personal identities.”

And on and on it goes.

This follows a Parliamentary session during which the Conservatives made a habit of targeting organised labour. They proposed onerous and expensive reporting requirements on unions in Bill C-377 that Conservative senator Hugh Segal slammed as unconstitutional. The bill was gutted in the Senate, but it’s not the end of it. Bill C-525 proposes to make it harder for workers to form a new union and much easier to decertify an existing one.

Looks like Canadian conservative political forces and major employer groups are importing U.S. Republican-style attacks on the labour movement that, if successful, would undermine the ability of employees to bargain with employers on an even footing.

We know unions successfully promote fair wages, decent working conditions and public services that benefit all citizens – not just unionized workers. And yet, there's this push against bargaining rights.

Photo: wader. Used under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence.