Leone: Union Votes Should Be Protected by Secret Ballot
01 August 2012
We need a lot more democracy in our supposedly democratic unions, and fewer top-down orders on how to think, vote, and run our communities. The leadership is supposed to work for us, remember?
-Chris Vander Doelen, The Windsor Star, July 24, 2012
QUEEN’S PARK – The Liberals need to stop favouring union leaders over Ontario’s workers and rethink the province’s 1940s-era labour laws, which fail to ensure workers have access to a secret ballot for union votes, Cambridge Ontario PC MPP Rob Leone said today.
“To elect their politicians, Ontarians use secret ballot voting. Yet they don’t have the same protection when it comes to electing union reps or ratifying collective agreements,” stated Leone, a former political science professor who taught young Canadians about the value of democracy. “McGuinty’s support for the status quo means union bosses will be able to intimidate employees, escape accountability and stifle job growth in Ontario.”
To protect the rights of workers, Paths to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets proposes amending the Ontario Labour Relations Act to restore independently administered secret ballots in all certification votes, which determine whether a union should be formed or removed. In addition, all strike votes and collective agreement ratification votes should be take place by secret ballot.
“Union leaders have lost their focus. They have too much power and no accountability to their members,” stated Leone. “In some cases, workers don’t have a choice when it comes to joining a union. To top things off, they’re legally obligated to pay union dues. Yet union leaders don’t have to show how they spend their members’ hard-earned money or even provide a secret ballot for voting.”
We know workers want greater democracy, continued Leone. Last year, Nanos Research found that 80 per cent of Ontarians surveyed agreed that a secret ballot vote should happen when forming or removing a union. “Is McGuinty for union bosses or for Ontario’s workers? As thing stand right now, union leaders are so powerful that employees basically have two bosses – their employer and a union boss.”
Paths to Prosperity proposes putting choice back in the hands of members by ensuring workers are not forced to join a union and pay dues. Currently, workers may lose their jobs if they do not comply.
The U.S. states that adopted similar reforms saw 11 per cent higher income growth, 11 per cent higher economic growth and a three per cent increase in employment growth between 2001 and 2010. Under the status quo, Ontario has lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs since 2003 and Ontario has had the worst wage growth among the provinces at 0.1 per cent last year.
“We need to get our economy going again. We need an integrated, pro-growth plan that actually addresses the fact our province is in a jobs crisis,” Leone concluded. “If the Premier is out of ideas, Tim Hudak and the Ontario PCs will continue to bring forward our own proposals to create jobs.”