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Archive for 'unions'

Collective Bargaining and Poverty Reduction: OECD Data

My union Unifor is currently undertaking an important “Rights at Work” campaign, which involves a national tour of meetings with our officers and local leaders and stewards, followed by a membership canvass and community outreach effort, all aimed at beating back the current attack on fundamental labour rights coming from conservatives at all levels in […]

The relentlessly hypocritical Gwyn Morgan

Another column by Gwyn Morgan in the Globe and Mail and another case of a 0.1 percenter telling the rest of us to “Do as I say, not as I do.” This time, it’s Gwyn recycling trash from the CFIB and Fraser Institute to claim defined benefit pensions for public sector workers are too generous […]

StatCan Debunks Small-Business Mythology

Canadian economic commentators often worship small business as the supposed source of economic dynamism and growth. This cult of small business has greatly influenced public policy, with federal and provincial governments giving huge tax preferences to small corporations. But new Statistics Canada research finds: “The gap between the levels of labour productivity in Canada and […]

Canada Post: A Billion-Dollar Boondoggle?

One of the most frequently repeated claims in coverage of yesterday’s Canada Post announcement is that the Crown corporation is on track to lose a billion dollars annually by the decade’s end. This apprehended threat to taxpayers supposedly justifies the complete elimination of door-to-door mail delivery. The Conference Board made this billion-dollar projection earlier this […]

Raising Ontario’s Minimum Wage

On Friday, the United Steelworkers made the following submission to Ontario’s Minimum Wage Advisory Panel. The United Steelworkers union endorses the Ontario Federation of Labour’s (OFL) call for a minimum wage of $14 per hour, to ensure that Ontarians who work full-time earn appreciably more than the poverty line. As the OFL submission states: Minimum […]

Unifor: Canada’s Newest Union

I am still catching my breath from one of the wildest weeks in my life: all the events that culminated in the founding convention last weekend in Toronto of Unifor (formed from the combination of the CAW and the CEP). 

The New Attack on Unions

The latest issue of the York University e journal Just Labour is now available. In addition to three articles on youth and labour, it includes my paper “Up Against the Wall: the Political Economy of the New Attack on the Canadian Labour Movement” and thoughtful responses from Sam Gindin, Ken Lewenza, Maya Bhullar and Patricia […]

Funding Cuts to Alberta’s PSE Sector: There Are Alternatives

It has recently been reported that the University of Alberta wants to “reopen two-year collective agreements” with faculty and staff “to help the university balance its budget…” This appears to be in direct response to Alberta’s provincial government announcing in its March budget that there would be a “7% cut to operating grants to universities, […]

A Dozen Reasons why Bill C-377 is the Worst

There has appropriately been a lot a criticism about Bill C-377 at House of Commons committees and the Senate.  Hugh Segal has been particularly eloquent as have the many submissions. Graham Cox has a good selection of them on his Citizens’ Press website. Here’s a short summary with a dozen reasons why it’s so bad: […]

C-377: A Chance for the Senate to Prove Its Worth

There’s a hilarious piece in today’s National Post by Dean Beeby, who cleverly used an access to information request to ferret out a copy of the training manual they use for the summer students who guide tourists around Parliament Hill.  Anticipating critical questions about the role of the Senate in our modern-day democracy, the students are […]

CAW Major Auto Bargaining 2012: Lessons Learned

I am now finally emerging from the mental fog induced by the 24-7 triennial marathon otherwise known as “CAW major auto bargaining.” To close the circle, here are my thoughts in retrospect on the bargaining: how the union prepared for it, the issues at stake, the contents of the final deal, and the challenges that […]

Unionization and Labour Market Performance

Further to my earlier post on the “own goal” scored by the Fraser Institute report on North American labour markets, the Table below shows the rankings of the Canadian provinces – out of 60 states and provinces – for (1) labour market performance, 2007-11 and (2) the unionization rate. (I have reversed the Fraser ranking […]

Labour Market Regulation and Labour Market Performance

A release by the Fraser Institute – Measuring Labour Markets in Canada and the United States, 2012 Edition – registers as a spectacular own goal. The Fraser Institute believes – and argues in this study – that strong unions, high minimum wages and high levels of public sector employment undermine labour market performance measured in […]

Excerpts From CAW Convention Document

Last week’s CAW convention in Toronto was one of the most exciting labour events I’ve ever been to. 

Raising Saskatchewan’s Minimum Wage

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour president Larry Hubich and I have the following joint op-ed in today’s Regina Leader-Post (page A10). It’s been fourteen years since I first wrote into The Leader-Post advocating a minimum-wage increase. UPDATE (August 31): The op-ed also appeared in today’s Saskatoon StarPhoenix (page A11), Wednesday’s Estevan Mercury (page A7) and Swift Current’s […]

Spinning Mr. Carney

For novelty value if nothing else, Mark Carney’s appearance at the CAW convention last week was bound to spark lots of attention.  After all, we could find no other historical example of a Bank of Canada Governor ever speaking to a union convention.  That says something in and of itself, of course.  Central bankers speak […]

Canada’s Economic Problem is NOT High Wages

Bill Curry reports in today’s Globe that, at last year’s economic policy retreat, business leaders urged Finance Minister Flaherty to reduce the pay of “overpriced” Canadian workers, including through anti union right to work legislation. Coincidentally, or not, the subsequent 2012 federal Budget introduced new rules which will require most EI claimants to accept jobs […]

Labour Law and Jobs: A Tale of Two Provinces

Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak claims that union busting right to work laws would create jobs in hard hit industrial Ontario. I have already noted that there is no evidence that Right to Work states in the US do better than other US states in terms of attracting and retaining manufacturing jobs. A glance closer […]

“Right to Work” Laws and Jobs

Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak claims that passage of an anti union “right to work” (RTW) law (making mandatory union dues illegal) would create jobs, especially in hard-hit manufacturing. With companies like Caterpillar moving to get ever cheaper labour, it seems semi plausible that anti union laws might attract footloose new investment , albeit at […]

Saskatchewan’s Rising Cost of Living

Today’s Consumer Price Index provides further evidence of Saskatchewan’s rising cost of living. Among the provinces, Saskatchewan is tied for the second-highest annual inflation rate: 2.0%. Consumer prices decreased in June from May in nine provinces (all except Alberta). But Saskatchewan was tied for the smallest monthly price decline: -0.3%. Compared to the rest of […]

Right to Work, again

In case anyone was wondering about the effectiveness of right to work laws in suppressing unionization, here is a chart of Union coverage rate by State (the percentage of all employees that are covered by a collective agreement) as of 2010.  Right to work states have an asterisk, and are outlined with a black dotted line. (Chart […]

Let’s Make Taxes Voluntary, too!

Further to my recent post on the Ontario PC party’s proposal for right-to-work laws in that province, here is a slightly longer version of my column in today’s Globe and Mail:

Unions and Democracy

Further to Jim’s post on the recent ratcheting up of the war on unions, I note that Hudak’s lead argument is that voluntary union membership is needed to “make unions more responsive to unionized employees.” (p6) “Labour laws” it is alleged “have given union leaders substantial power  with little or no accountability.” (p9) The basic […]

U.S. Right-to-Work Thinking Now Infecting Canada

It’s clear we’re going to have to gear up our arguments on right-to-work laws, dues check-off, the Rand Formula, etc. In the last year three mainstream parties have introduced proposals for right-to-work style legal changes in Canada (Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party, the Wild Rose Alliance, and now yesterday Tim Hudak’s Ontario PCs).  This used to […]

Defending Green Jobs at the WTO

As a partner in Blue Green Canada, the United Steelworkers have issued the following news release: WTO Called Upon to Dismiss Japan, EU Challenge to Canadian Renewable Energy Policy Canadian NGOs and labour unions have sent an amicus curiae submission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the eve of a second hearing tomorrow into […]

Opting Out of Union Dues

Murray Mandryk’s excellent column today saves me the trouble of writing a lengthy blog post on the Saskatchewan government’s recent musings about labour legislation. From an economic perspective, it’s worth noting that enabling unionized workers to opt out of paying union dues would create a classic free-rider problem. Indeed, Wikipedia’s article on this topic uses […]

If You Could Change One Thing

I had a great change of pace last week, when I stayed out at the CAW Family Education Centre at Port Elgin to teach a 5-day course on “Economics for Trade Unionists” through the CAW’s Paid Educational Leave program. While I have guest lectured many times at Port Elgin, I have never actually taught a […]

Ontario to Mine for More Revenue

Last week’s provincial budget promised a mining sector review “to ensure Ontario receives fair compensation for its non-renewable resources,” a proposal advanced by this blog and the United Steelworkers before appearing as a Drummond recommendation. The relevant budget section begins with the following observation: “Ontario has the highest value of mineral production of any province […]

Lockouts Almost Derail GDP Growth

Statistics Canada reported today that economic growth dropped to a bare 0.1% in January. The New Year began with Rio Tinto locking out former Alcan employees at Alma, Quebec, and Caterpillar locking out former Electro Motive employees at London, Ontario. Closing these major facilities contributed to cutting growth in durable-goods manufacturing from 1.5% in December […]

Budget 2012: Pennywise But Pound Foolish

Marc, Andrew and Toby have posted substantial analyses of yesterday’s federal budget and I have some comments in today’s Hamilton Spectator. My two cents about the budget’s economic forecasts follow. Table 2.1 envisions a 7.5% unemployment rate this year, slightly above last year’s rate of 7.4%. That seems like an admission of failure from a […]