Air Canada and Canada Post. Their unions are under pressure from a culture that vilifies the working class, and like all Canadian unions they are trying to stem the flow of workplace rights and even basic needs from sliding backwards into the dark ages. The management is comfy though, with huge raises this year … again … so they don’t see the concern. For them, pay cuts and elimination of reasonable pensions makes sense, because otherwise how will we maintain this level of self rewarding largess?
Of course union job actions began, and within minutes the government is in the room ordering the workers to get back to work.
I grew up in a Canada that valued the rights of ALL it’s citizens, not just those who could afford German cars and Real Estate in Victoria. Today I am seeing a country that would rather keep it’s working class in the gutter, and any of those who would try to improve their lot through collective bargaining are systematically shut down, shut off and legislated back to work. If Baristas had a union, the second they began talk of a living wage IN THIS COUNTRY they would be legislated back to work before the foam got cool on the lattes. That particular double standard makes me sick to the point I routinely point it out to the management of coffee shops that brag about their serving only fair trade coffee.
On the CBC yesterday the discussion was of child poverty. For having the highest levels of child poverty in Canada FOR THE 8TH YEAR IN A ROW British Columbia was rated the very worst offender. Another bullshit social misdirection was all I could think. There is no such thing as child poverty, just poverty. Kids don’t pay the bills, mom and dad do. If the kids are poor, it’s because the parents are poor.
In the discussion various poverty groups discussed the issue, and I took solace in the fact they seemed to get that part right. Minimum wage in B.C. should be about $18 … MINIMUM … to allow two working parents the bare minimum means to provide for the needs of a family. They also discussed welfare rates, and of course the need to raise them was discussed. I think they forgot a few things though…
Graduated billing for things like water, electricity, and pretty much everything a home needs are designed specifically to shift the burden of cost directly onto families, and they hurt them a lot. No mention was made of this.
The continued erosion of the rights of the working class, manifested partially by the severe erosion of unions collective bargaining rights, and it’s massive negative effects on the family. All those kids from broken homes doing crack and making us look like a short sighted and cruel culture? They come from broken homes, and I dare any of the current crop of leaders to argue that poverty wasn’t the major reason for those families being broken in the first place. Not discussed.
I especially wanted to hear talk of the role of government in trying to temper the zealous desires of the moneyed class to remove wages, benefits, and each and every right imaginable from the working classes. As a child I grew up in Ottawa hearing how the civil servants were the employment model that the government expected private enterprise to follow. Now I see instead governments at every level … municipal, provincial and federal … working actively AGAINST the needs of the majority of it’s citizens. The working class is made out to be popcorn and beer chomping ingrates, who would simply waste whatever breaks were given to them on yet more corporeal pleasures, instead of putting their money in a well chosen G.I.C. or term deposit as they should. Forgetting for a moment Canada’s savings rate is the lowest in it’s history due to the strip mining of the working class by the moneyed classes, the attitude of government seems utterly beyond redemption. Now it’s the government that leads the way in finding new and creative ways of removing the things Canada’s middle class have depended on for fifty years at least. This wasn’t mentioned.
So back to Air Canada and Canada Post.
The first two rounds have been fought, and clearly the working class is on the ropes. Union leaders Canada wide had better be watching this, because as I’ve said before, the time they can coast through their terms has come to an inglorious end. The next four years are going to be dark times for the working class, and if unions do not stand up and do their part the war will be lost. Here are some ideas;
Unions need to aggressively encourage new members to join. The working class is almost entirely without proper representation of the kind unions provide. NOW is the time to get those minimum wage employees into the fold, because they are going to fall even further into the poverty trap if they aren’t helped.
As well, unions need to engage the community … everywhere and everyhow. Government and business have very successfully painted unions as greedy and lazy organization who want nothing less than the proverbial free ride. Pay without work. If the unions don’t get involved with their local communities at every opportunity, then the lies will become the accepted truth. They must aggressively answer the slander with truth, and to do that they will need to do a lot more than just buy a little ad space in the newspaper once every four years. Handing out Gatoraide at sporting events, sponsoring art shows, giving charities refurbished computers, writing articles for local and national media outlets, engaging the forum and blog culture, being politically active in promoting not just the interests of their members but also the interests of the entire working class … I could go on but you get the point.
Finally, unions needs to remove the “s” in the word “unions”. An attack on one is an attack on us all. The response to these attacks should reflect that.
There. I feel a bit better.