Unions in Ontario A Tale of Two Realities – Yakabuski
09 August 2012
“The (proposal) put forth by Hudak does not ban unions. It simply gives workers a freedom of choice that when hired by a unionized employer, they have a choice of whether to join the union or not. What’s wrong with that? Isn’t that what democracy is all about?”
- letter to the editor, The Windsor Star, August 3, 2012
QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario’s unionized private sector workers have taken it on the chin while their public sector counterparts have “dined out” for nine years under the McGuinty Liberals, making a strong case for the labour law reforms proposed in the Ontario PC Caucus Paths to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets, Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke PC MPP John Yakabuski said today.
“Private sector union members have made tough concessions to keep their employers in business and their own jobs intact – if they’ve been lucky,” Yakabuski said. “At the same time, public sector unions under Dalton McGuinty have enjoyed a nine-year hiring binge and ‘wage freeze’ deals that don’t actually freeze wages – like the recent agreement with English Catholic teachers.”
In this tale of two realities, Yakabuski noted, the private sector has lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs and wage growth has become virtually stagnant, while 300,000 bureaucratic government jobs have been added to the bloated public sector payroll.
“Not only that – the total paid to public sector workers has increased 46 per cent, from $40 billion to over $58 billion, since this government was first elected in 2003,” Yakabuski said. “No wonder the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found that public sector workers make up to 27 per cent more than their private sector counterparts when benefits are factored in.”
Yakabuski repeated the long-standing Ontario PC call for public sector salaries to reflect economic reality. He said these past 9 years of overspending all point to the need to haul the public sector workforce out from the sheltered environment it has enjoyed since the 1940s.
“We’ve put a number of ideas on the table to accomplish this goal, from requiring public sector unions to compete for government work, to modernizing the arbitration system, to an across-the-board wage freeze, to the numerous proposals set forth in the PCs’ Paths to Prosperity white paper.”
The document also calls for action in three other key areas: giving the individual worker a choice on becoming or remaining a union member; making union leaders more accountable to unionized employees; and reforming Ontario’s workplace agencies for a more flexible workforce and job creation.
“It also boosts our call for an across-the-board, legislated public sector pay freeze, to help bring public sector salaries into line with their private sector equivalents in a way that taxpayers can afford,” Yakabuski said, adding the measure would save Ontarians $2 billion annually.
“The current government’s refusal to adopt any of them clearly illustrates it does not comprehend the gravity of Ontario’s debt crisis,” Yakabuski concluded.