On Saturday, April 2, CUPE BC is joining with other BC unions and the AFL-CIO to stage a rally in support of Wisconsin labour unions. The cross-border show of solidarity will be at the Peace Arch Park at the Peace Arch border crossing at 2.00 p.m.. All Lower Mainland members are encouraged to attend.
CUPE BC is organizing free bus transportation to help members attend the rally. It’s expected that parking on site will be difficult.
To arrange transportation to and from the rally, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org information about where you’re traveling from. We’ll be in touch with info about the nearest CUPE BC bus route.
The attacks on public sector unions and collective bargaining in many American are sweeping. Legislation has been introduced in 20 states that undermine public sector collective bargaining. In Wisconsin, legislation has passed that:
- limits public sector union bargaining to wages, and only up to the rate of inflation.
- The state will no longer collect union dues from paychecks
- Members must vote each year to stay in the union.
- It requires public workers to pay more for health insurance and pension plans.
- Examples from other states include legislation that claws-back or freezes wages, sets limits on interest arbitration, and establishes two-tier pensions.
The attack is not just on public sector unions, but also very much on political power. The legislation against union dues check-off is designed to hobble the union’s abilities to fund democrats and progressive causes. In 2010, American election public sector unions contributed $20.5 million to candidates of which more than over 80 per cent were Democrats.
These attacks have been described so eloquently by Naomi Klein as ‘shock doctrine’—-pretending it’s about budgets and deficits, but attacking unions and democracy while also reducing taxes for rich and putting tax and revenue caps in place.
Coming to Canada?
The corporate world is using the economic meltdown to launch attacks on public sector services and workers in many countries, alongside the right-wing think tanks they fund. The January 2011 issue of the Economist “The Battle Ahead, Confronting Public Services” is symbolic of this charge.
The Fraser Institute pounced on Wisconsin’s legislative cauchemar (nightmare) for public sector unions and workers to call for similar measures to be used in Canada. Pointing to provincial deficits, they leapt to the inexplicable conclusion that the cause of the deficits is public sector employees. They then continue to promote privatization of services and extol the advantages of private sector and competition.
The strong evidence shows that public services and public sector workers contribute greatly to economic recovery by providing valuable services to communities and reducing income inequality. Most public sector workers are women, providing public and community services that are so important—services such as education, healthcare, and social services. These values of sharing and caring are what create equality. Tax cuts to financial institutions and banks do the opposite.
Public sector unions provide a democratic forum for members to advance and protect their political and economic rights. They prevent arbitrary power from their employers including federal, provincial, and local governments and boards. Unions also advocate for legislative protections and benefits for all workers such as workers’ compensation, health and safety, the Canada Pension Plan, parental leaves and benefits, employment insurance, early learning and child care programs, and fair wages. Unions fight income inequality. READ up on Christie Clark’s new right hand man, Gwyn Morgan. He has donated very large sums to the Fraser Institute and is definitely not a fan of the defined benefit pensions for unionised members, in spite of the fact that he enjoys an over 1.7 million annual pension (2006). See Globe & Mail and click Continued Reading Gwyn Morgan’s yearly pension Wisconsin’s fight will soon be ours, if Harper gets a majority and Mr. Morgan’s agenda prevails. See Tyee article on Gwyn Morgan.