Labour laws in Canada need to change
It’s time to change labour laws in Canada so that unionized employees can no longer be forced to pay for political views they do not support.
As common sense as this policy change sounds, for a government to act on it would no doubt be met by an angry tizzy of protests from the elite that run unions. Thankfully, there’s one government that is well suited to take on this issue and pave the way for other provinces to follow suit – Manitoba.
To start, note that if you accept a job in a unionized work environment – whether it is a school, factory, or somewhere else – you have to pay union dues each year (except under rare circumstances).
Unfortunately for a lot of union members, unions often charge their members for more than just the cost of bargaining contracts and addressing workplace issues. They often charge for millions of dollars in political and other non-bargaining activities each year.
For instance, during the 2014 Ontario election alone, unions spent $8.5 million on ads, many of which attacked Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak. By contrast, the total amount spent by businesses represented just $0.4 million. And no one was forced to contribute to the latter.
In the 2013 British Columbia election, unions donated $2,491,191 to the NDP and gave just $6,010 to the B.C. Liberals. That works out to 99.7 per cent of union donations in B.C. going towards the NDP.
While the NDP have traditionally fared better at attracting the votes of unionized workers, to suggest anywhere close to 99.7 per cent of them supported the NDP is quite the stretch.
The elite that run unions often claim their decisions to help fund left-wing causes are voted on by their members. Even if you take that claim at face value, why should one employee get to vote on what another employee has to spend money on?
For instance, why should a Jewish postal worker have had to pay for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers’ 2008 decision to send someone to Gaza to protest Israel?
If you really want to know how unionized workers feel about a political party or cause, give them their money back and let them decide what to do with it.
Governments could empower unionized workers by changing labour laws to restrict union dues from including the cost of political activities. Manitoba’s new Progressive Conservative government should be keen to make such a change.
For the second time in the last thirty years, the PCs find themselves taking over from an NDP government that left things in complete disarray. Further, during the long 16-year run by Manitoba’s former NDP government, unions in the province routinely used forced union dues to attack the PCs and prop up the NDP.
Manitoba’s PC government has the largest majority in over 100 years. If they’re not going to use some of their political capital to address a major problem such as this, it’ll be an enormous missed opportunity.
Let’s hope for the sake of unionized workers across Canada that Manitoba takes the lead to address this problem. The elite in unions may not like it, but many of the grassroots certainly will.
Colin Craig works for the Manning Centre