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Politics and its Discontents: On The Minimum Wage And Tim Hudak’s ‘Bold’ Plan For Ontario

Continuing on with the theme of the minimum wage, which groups in both Canada and the United States are demonstrating to significantly increase, The Star had a good letter in yeterday’s edition that points out the hidden costs of having so many working for poverty-level remuneration.

Fight poverty, boost wages, Editorial Sept. 18

The Star underscored a bitter truth with its editorial call for a minimum wage increase: “a lot of people are working hard to remain in poverty,” due to a minimum wage that’s been frozen for over three years. And, as you note, a great many people (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Another Union-Busting Eatery I Will Not Patronize

Several days ago I commented on a story from The Star about the unsavory labour practices of Richtree Market, a Toronto restaurant that ‘closed’ its business, terminated all of its unionized staff, only to reopen this coming Monday a few doors down from its prior location. None of the old staff was rehired, and all who currently staff the ‘new’ operation are non-union, a clear violation of Ontario labour law.

In this morning’s edition, The Toronto Star reports that the same tactic has been used by the Lai Wah Heen restaurant, housed within the exclusive Metropolitan Hotel in Toronto:

(Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Labour Day 2013: Say Hello to the Pavement!

Workers in Canada and around the world have been under assault for decades, but most of our recent tactics to stop the bleeding have been ineffective. Are we lazy, complacent, overworked, obedient, compliant, subdued, afraid, docile, or fully tamed and intimidated by the one per cent?

If we don’t get a lot more of our boots on the pavement, and soon, our union density will continue to decline to an impotent level. Just look at the United States. Union density does not have to be zero for workers there to consistently lose against employers and anti-worker legislators. Density just has (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: On Tim Hudak’s Evangelical Political Fervour

Crazed clerics are not the only ones possessed of an evangelical fervour. Young Tim Hudak, leader (at least for now) of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, is well-known for wanting to bring back some of that old-time religion in the form of union-bashing and dismantlement, something he likes to describe eupehmistically as workplace democracy.

Happily, the agenda clumsily yet avidly embraced by Mr. Hudak and his federal brethren is transparent to many, as the following Star letter makes clear:

Re: A Conservative banner you won’t see, Aug. 10

Susan Delacourt misses the point. While home ownership is the dream of (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Profits Before People: Richmond Ikea Lockout Enters Day 17

 

Generating enough media spin to rival a jet engine at take off, the management and PR folks at Ikea Canada want you to believe that their poor little corporation is being held hostage by greedy, soulless union workers in Richmond.

Woe. Pity poor Ikea.

It’s tough being a multi-national corporation with a reputation for union busting, still more union busting and sundry human rights violations. It is also expensive to flog the entire planet with particle board, Allen Keys and horsemeat tainted foodstuffs. You can’t expect them to provide “coworkers” with a safe, fair and equitable place (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Thomas Walkom Today

The union movement is one of the last remnants of the great postwar pact between labour, capital and government.

That pact provided Canadians with things they still value, from medicare to public pension plans. Good wages in union shops kept pay high, even in workplaces that weren’t organized. Unions agitated for and won better health and safety laws that covered all.

True, union rules made it more difficult for employers to axe slackers. But they also ensured that when someone lost his job, it was for real cause — not because he or she had refused to sleep with the

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Politics and its Discontents: The Not-So-Hidden-Hand of Harper

Although I believe unreservedly in the vital role that unions play in both protecting and promoting workers’ rights, I make no apologies for the times that I have been critical of them. Cronyism, questionable expenditures, and corruption have no pla… . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: The Not-So-Hidden-Hand of Harper

Politics and its Discontents: That Man Behind the Curtain

While I strongly believe in being critical of unions when their behaviour warrants it, I am steadfast in my belief that they serve a vital role for the working person, which, essentially, is all of us, at least until retirement. I therefore must disagree with those who claim that the harsh measures about to be imposed by the McGuinty government of Ontario are somehow at least partly attributable to union intransigence.

In his Star column this morning, Martin Regg Cohn offers a good analysis of the politics motivating Mr. McGuinty as the legislature prepares to resume tomorrow to deal with

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Politics and its Discontents: What "Flexibility" Really Means

Reading the print version of the story I posted a link to yesterday regarding young Tim Hudak’s latest attempt at formulating policy (a.k.a. union busting) got me thinking once more about how politicians misuse and debase language.

In what I guess in his world passes for bold and innovative thinking, young Tim would like union membership to no longer be mandatory and would outlaw the “forced paycheque contributions” unionized workers make to political causes.

Hudak said that “the more flexible the workplace, the greater demand there is going to be for workers.”

“If you have a flexible

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Politics and its Discontents: Young Tim’s Latest Attempt At Policy-Making

Because, I guess, young Master Hudak believes in work-place democracy.

Can the workhouses be far behind? Recommend this Post

Politics and its Discontents: Ontario’s Impending Austerity Budget

Reading my morning Star, I learned that there is wide-spread support among the public for austerity measures to reduce Ontario’s deficit. I suspect that there will be a particular appetite for the following:

Hundreds of thousands of teachers, nurses and all other public employees face higher pension contributions or reduced payouts to keep their plans sustainable, the Ontario government will announce Tuesday.

Although I am a former teacher receiving one of those ‘lavish pensions’ that come with no benefits (I pay about $3,000 per year for supplementary health insurance), I shall not use this space to offer a defense

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