The perpetual hand in my pocket

Post 20— October 13, 2014

With every paycheck comes with it a deduction that I can count on; a perpetual hand in my pocket, picking away at my hard earned money. Union dues, the mandatory deduction that provides me with almost no returns.

Labor unions exist in Canada. They have existed ever since the early 1800's to help provide benefits to employees, and protection from unfair treatment. During a time where labor laws were lax and when employers often exploited their workers, unions were key in the fight for labor rights.

However, times have changed, and we have to ask some important questions. Are labor unions still beneficial in society and who does labor unions really benefit anymore?

Labor reform was once a big deal in society. There was a time decades ago when we saw political parties being elected into office with one agenda only — labor reform. It has now been decades since these laws have been put in place to protect workers from unfair treatment and abuse. The right to strike was first given to Canadians in 1932, and has led to significant improvements to society.

But today, unionized labor no longer provides any benefit to society, and perhaps even causes harm.

Let’s consider the following:

Between 2008 and 2010, the auto industry was in ruins. The three American auto makers were facing bankruptcy. Their global market share dropped from 70% to 53% within a few short years. Billions of taxpayer dollars had to be spent to save these companies from the disappearing into the abyss.

United Auto Workers was one of the most aggressive unions in existence. Over a short number of years, to the delight of auto workers around North America, they had secured record high remuneration and benefit packages for its workers. They were so good that over the a few years, it forced the auto companies to stop making profit. They slowly dwindled and eventually collapse. The mass unemployment that followed was devastating. What was once a booming industrial city, Detroit has been reduced to an abandoned ghost town too poor to even run basic emergency services. Ambulances don’t even run in certain communities anymore.

The once mighty union led it its own demise, and helped destroy the lives of thousands of people. Perhaps the time for unions have come and gone.

Just recently, the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation brought 41000 teachers on strike. A strike that ended with only one result. Students were locked out of their classrooms for weeks. Picketing teachers claim they are standing up for their students, but that seems like quite a stretch of the imagination.

Let’s consider what a strike actually means. Teachers wanted an 8% raise among other things, but their employer disagreed. So, like an agree child, teachers effectively said, “if you’re not giving me what I want, I’m not going to go to work.” It amazes me that people can say that using their students as hostage to get what they want is putting their students first.

As for my union, it has been well over a year now since our bargaining agreement had expired. No progress seems to be made, and yet I still have to pay my fees. What a useless waste of money.

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