4 comments

  • janfromthebruce

    righto – off I go.

  • You advocate pro union. Can you tell me why the parent company is in favour of this when on reading the lengthy history of the union movement it is marred by the fierce and violent opposition by companies, management and even the government.
    Dofasco the centre of a hostile and sweetened financial deal produces high quality steel. It has a traditional attitude of co-operation with its workers.
    Why now is a union required?
    The workers are not at all in favour and very nervous over the intents of the move.
    Can you provide some pointers that represent the pro side of the argument and that present strategies to protect the benefits and assets the workers already have? Thanks

  • Here is a short set of reasons one should think positively about having a union.

    Union

    Due process

    The union contract provides each bargaining unit member with access to “due process” through the grievance and arbitration procedure.

    Non-Union

    No formal grievance process with arbitration. In some cases, there may be an internal, self-policing “appeals”process that is ultimately unenforceable.

    Wages, benefits and working conditions

    Union

    These are negotiated. All members have the opportunity to improve their working conditions through contract negotiations at the bargaining table.

    Non-Union

    All are unilaterally set by the employer. No avenue for employee input. Management gives what it wants to.

    Hiring, promotions, transfers, layoffs

    Union

    All are governed by the contract. Seniority and other objective standards apply.

    Non-Union
    All are determined unilaterally and subjectively by the employer.

    Changes in working conditions

    Union

    The negotiated contract establishes all working conditions. These can only be changed by negotiations between the parties

    Changes can be made at any time, without warning, by the employer alone.

    Discipline

    Union
    Any disciplinary action is usually subject to the “just cause” standard, meaning that there is a burden of proof on the employer to justify the discipline.

    Non-union

    Workers are “employees at will” meaning that they are subject to discipline and termination for no reason at all, depending on the whims of the employer. No just cause standard applies.

    Voice in the Workplace

    Union
    Employees have a real and formal voice in their working conditions at the bargaining table.

    Non-Union

    Employers may listen to the employees and then do whatever they choose to do, regardless.

    Access to Information (now more important since it is a foreign based mutlinational)

    Union

    The union, through its officers and floor representatives, has access to facility information in order to investigate grievances and for contract negotiations.

    Non-union

    Employees have no rights of access to information. The employer tells employees what it wants to. Information is closely guarded.

    I could probably go on and on.

    However your question is why would a company reach out a union

    Ultimately it is the collective benefits of having collective representation that employees reach for a union. Although I must admit after reading a lot of commentary on the Hamilton Spectator website I am not sure people actually feel this way. (I am not sure if a majority of these comments represent dofasco workers)but you are right in one things, there seems to be quite a lot of confusion.

    I truthfully don’t understand why people fear unions or the motivations behind teh company reaching out as the case is being made in this instance by many commentators. Potentially it is just an awareness issue.

    As to why the company is reaching out, it could be a whole host of reasons. Mr. Mittal seems like a bit of a hands on CEO and potentially, he may just feel that the right civilized means of doing business in Canada is with a Union and he may just be trying to be a good corporate citizen. He has a lot of European interests and given the high unionization rates in these countries he may want to maintain this pattern.

    However given some cursory research I have done I would suggest that you Dofasco workers had better not look a gift horse in the mouth and jump on board a lbour union while you can.

    See this post on the changes brought in by the new management styles within other bought up companies by Mittal.

    Trade unions fear threat to social dialogue model at Arcelor Mittal

    http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/eiro/2007/02/articles/lu0702049i.htm

    I have read others as well that seem to echo this sentiment. I would also point out that it is quite an interesting and relatively under researched field, regarding what happens to a multinational management paradigm when it enters different Industrial relations and HR cultures within different countries.

    There is plenty of rumours and such but I also would put some weight into the fact that Mittal most likely knows that with its objectives and the changes that it wants to make, it will most likely bring about organizing efforts. So in one sense it may be trying to steer the process.

    Pt.

  • Sorry but I just read that the USW is pulling it s campaign as Dofasco employees were not displaying much interest in a union. Funny how cultures even at the plant level can be so different. I grew up in a Steel town, the Sault, and the USW unions played such a big positive part in the community. The whole town was thick with the culture of the union, and a majority of it was postive. There was a lot of democracy and benefits shared amongst all. Community and even familial Trust was number one, and the lack of trust displayed by Dofasco employees with regard to unions, is something I just do not understand.

    I respect their decision, but at the same time I guess you have to work there to understand that viewpoint. If I were a worker there I be would seriously looking at the new management with different eyes. Just because there has been a tradtion on the shop floor, does not mean it will continue forever.

    As I mentioned in my last post, the whole field of international Industrial relations within a firm is quite a young field of research and guess what, Dofasco will be the new testing ground. If some of the recent European rumblings with regard to Mittal are a sign of things to come, it should make for an interesting future at Dofasco.

    Paul.

    Or at least been quite interesting to monitor.

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