Carpenters' Unions Misuse $1M of Members' Dues to Support Liberals
24 July 2012
“The worst case is Ontario, where organized labour has hijacked the electoral process, making itself the kingmaker of provincial governments.”
- Tom Flanagan, University of Calgary political science professor, Globe and Mail, July 16, 2012
QUEEN’S PARK – The unchecked powers of union leaders across the province have allowed them to misuse millions of dollars of their members’ dues to prop up the McGuinty Liberals, Rod Jackson, Ontario PC Critic for the Pan Am Games, said today.
“Numerous carpenters’ unions have given close to $1 million in total donations to Ontario Liberal Party and its riding associations,” said Jackson. “No wonder Dalton McGuinty hasn’t said a word about the Ontario PCs’ proposals to curb this kind of activity, despite growing public support for our Paths to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets discussion paper.”
Between 2001 and 2011, about 66 carpenters’ unions donated a total of $780,000 to the central Ontario Liberal Party and another $155,000 to Liberal riding associations. Carpenters’ unions have provided close to $37,500 to the Ontario PC Party and approximately $12,000 to its riding associations over the same time period.
“McGuinty is playing a game of ‘scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours’ with union leaders – with costly consequences for Ontarians,” Jackson said. “Look at the City of Hamilton, where restrictive agreements give the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America a monopoly over
construction projects – including the $155-million renovation project at Ivor Wynne Stadium for the upcoming Pan Am Games.”
Restrictive clauses in collective agreements mean workers have to hold the right union card if they want to benefit from government construction and maintenance projects, Jackson continued. “Moreover, with competition shut out, unions can easily charge taxpayers more. It’s not surprising that over the last ten years, carpenters’ unions have provided over $20,000 to Liberal riding associations in Hamilton.”
The Ontario PCs’ Paths to Prosperity discussion paper recommends abolishing the practice of closed tendering across Ontario’s municipal and broader public sectors. It also seeks to ensure a worker can’t be fired for not joining a union and paying dues. Union leaders must also provide full disclosure of their revenues and how they spend their funds.
“During the last election, three major Ontario unions managed to collectively spend more on advertising during the writ period than the Liberal and Ontario PC parties, which spent about $5 million,” Jackson said. “As the University of Calgary’s Tom Flanagan notes, we basically have ‘Super PACs’ that care more about influencing the democratic process than protecting Ontario workers and creating jobs.”
“It’s time the government hauled Ontario’s outdated labour laws into the 21st century,” Jackson concluded. “If they’re out of ideas, the Ontario PCs will continue to bring forward our proposals.”