There have been an increasing number of news stories written about a concept called “Right to Work.” Unfortunately too many people do not understand what Right to Work really means and the impact it has on working families and the middle class.
Right to Work legislation means that people who are in a bargaining unit (in a workplace that is unionized) do not have to pay mandatory union dues to the union to work there. The worker has the benefit of being represented by the union (collective bargaining, grievance representation, etc.) but they do not have to contribute financially for these services. Over time, this places a heavy financial burden on the union and results in less representation.
Mandatory union dues was the result of a recommendation of Justice Rand (thus it is called the Rand Formula) who came to the conclusion that there should be no free riders in places that were represented by a union. This has been the accepted norm in Canada since 1946.
Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has made numerous public statements that he would bring in “Right to Work” laws in Ontario should he become the next premier. This will have a significant impact on every working person in Ontario. All of us need to pay attention to this and to put every effort into making sure Right to Work does not happen in Ontario.
What will this mean for you?
Most importantly, you will make less money if Right to Work laws come to Ontario. In the United States (where 24 states have Right to Work laws) workers make $1,500.00 less per year than those in the other states. Recent news articles have stated that for the first time ever, Canadian household income has surpassed that of Americans. This is the direct result of Right to Work laws and the impact they have on worker incomes. Even the Wall Street Journal says that “States that bar mandatory union dues tend towards more jobs and lower wages.”
It is interesting to note that only conservative (Republican in the United States) legislators have brought in these laws under the guise of worker freedom and as an economic driver. When was the last time you saw a conservative talk about ways to give workers a pay raise? If you are not sure, look at the musings of federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on improving the Canada Pension Plan – he doesn’t think it is a good idea. He would rather have you work longer and collect less from CPP.
There is a strong possibility that we will have an election in Ontario in the New Year. All of us need to be focused on the goal of ensuring that the Conservative Party of Ontario does not become the government and that Tim Hudak does not become premier. We need all of you to get active politically so we can defend the middle class and to ensure our collective voice is heard. Each of you should consider volunteering to work with your local Political Action Committee so we can be ready to fight back.