Keeping an eye on the feds and their anti-union laws

conservatives across the United States have succeeded to varying degrees in passing laws that severely constrain trade unions in an attempt to weaken their influence, by taking away collective bargaining rights in some places and removing mandatory dues in others.

While Canadian Conservatives haven’t been able to do the same – yet – that hasn’t stopped them from trying. Well before he lost the June 2014 election, Tim Hudak took an extreme anti-union stance. It didn’t seem to convince the public and he lessened that angle in favour of other platform points. Then his loss was blamed partially on the labour movement for banding together in defense of our unions.

Now that the provincial election is over, unions in Ontario are focusing on the municipal elections (October 27), hoping to increase voter turnout and elect labour-friendly politicians who will respect working people. But there is another big election looming less than a year away: the Canadian federal election.

The 2015 federal election will determine where our country is headed as a whole. Stephen Harper and his Conservatives will try to get a majority again, which means they can accomplish almost anything they want in Parliament. And on their list is the weakening of the collective power of working people by legislating changes that will hurt unions.

One piece of legislation is back in the Senate. Last time it was brought before the Senate the bill was originally destroyed by a group of Senators including 16 Conservatives. Called Bill C-377, its intent is to force unions to disclose the details of their expenses to the Ministry of Labour. The Senator who led that contingent of Conservatives who tried to defend unions has since retired.

Press Progress has detailed 8 reasons the Conservatives’ anti-union bill shouldn’t be brought back from the dead. It is going to be an uphill battle for union members to band together to resist this type of law and the ones that are sure to follow. This is before an even bigger battle in 2015: defeating the Conservatives and electing MPs that will implement a pro-worker agenda.

G.W.

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