Time to ban public sector unions?

October 3, 2012
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Thursday, September, 20, 2012 – 10:10:26 AM

Fair Pensions For All believes that public sector unions have become a threat to economic security.

The political power that the public sector unions have makes it difficult to fix our fiscal problems and endangers our grandchildren’s future. This must change.

Provincial governments have the ability to ban public sector unions with the support of Section 33.1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The question is: Do they have the will?

We suggest that politicians must act soon, before the public sector unions destroy our provinces entirely.

We only need to look at recent political history to see both the power and vindictiveness of public sector unions.

In Ontario, premiers David Peterson, Bob Rae and Dalton McGuinty, along with former mayor David Miller of Toronto, all share two characteristics. One, they were put in power with support of public sector unions. Two, they all realized the need for fiscal restraint and the unions set out to destroy them.

Most recently, Miller told the garbage men and women of Toronto that there simply wasn’t any more money.

There was a revolt and the unions turned Toronto into a cesspool of filth and garbage.

Miller’s crime? He dared say that the cupboard was bare. The same fate met Peterson and Rae when they asked for some fiscal flexibility. Now, Premier McGuinty is going to meet his maker, as well.

This kind of political power is not seen in any other part of our society and it is dangerous. We have record amounts of taxes collected and, yet we still run massive deficits. More than half of all of our tax dollars go directly into salaries and benefits, but, for the unions, it is never enough.

We have pension plans with massive unfunded liabilities that threaten to cripple our economy, but the politicians are powerless to do anything. And, sadly, with voter turnout below 50 per cent, the political power of the public sector unions only gets stronger.

In a recent trend in British Columbia, several cities elected councils and mayors were supported by large political donations from the city’s own employees. In Burnaby, a winning slate of elected city councillors had more than $132,00 in donations from unions, including large amounts from the union representing city employees.

At Fair Pensions For All, we have spoken to countless politicians who recognize the need for change. They understand the fiscal problems that exist and want to fix them, but they can’t.

The unions are too powerful and will destroy the one thing that is paramount in every politician’s mind: re-election. Until we remove these unions, this refrain will not change.

The public sector unions in Ontario now have a new dance partner in the NDP. We just saw in Kitchener-Waterloo an example of their power. A party that was all but irrelevant in the political spectrum in K-W won a provincial by-election by an overwhelming majority.

Flexing their collective muscle, the public sector unions secured another vote for increased spending and higher taxes. That is, until they suggest a bit of wage restraint. Then they, too, will be sent packing.

Even the great liberal Franklin D. Roosevelt, who realized the need for private sector unions, cautioned against public sector unions.

Employees of the government are some of our best and brightest. Both of these groups understand the need for change, but the unions refuse to let it happen.

It is time we force the unions to listen. It is time we remove them from our public service.

Gareth Neilson
Communications director, Fair Pensions For All

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