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Blizzard

Ontario needs right-to-work policy

By Christina Blizzard, Special to the Sun

Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan. (QMI Agency)

Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan. (QMI Agency)

TORONTO - 

Sid Ryan is at it again.

Yep, the Ontario Federation of Labour president is rallying the union troops to tour the province telling voters why Tim Hudak’s so-called “right-to-work” policy is bad for families and bad for voters.

In so doing, however, he’s proving just why we need right-to-work.

The union I belong to, Unifor, is part of this project to talk to a million people about it.

Really? How democratic is that? I have no choice. I’m forced to pay union dues every paycheque and that money goes to support the union’s own partisan political campaigns and people whose political views I don’t support.

This is precisely why unions need reining in.

Unifor spokesman Katha Fortier wouldn’t tell me the cash value of this tour.

She said it’s “not specifically focused against Tim Hudak.”

The union is going to every major city across the country.

“It just happens we’re starting in Ontario first,” Fortier said.

The union is supporting NDP candidate Wayne Gates in the Niagara Falls byelection.

He’s the president of Local 199 in the area.

“I suspect he’ll get a lot of volunteers and probably donations,” she told me. “Obviously any donations the unions make would be within the legal limits of what they’re allowed to make, but I would expect Wayne would see support.”

I asked Fortier if she’d support me if I chose to run for political office. After all, I’m a member too. I’m Sister Christina to you.

It seems only fair if they support one Unifor member, they should support all of us who run for office.

I’m not holding my breath.

“We look at every election and every byelection on a case-by-case basis,” she told me.

Ryan told me the OFL campaign is more about “boots on the ground” than it is about money.

“The resources will be mainly volunteers,” he told me. Unions sent 700 volunteers on election day to the Kitchener-Waterloo byelection that elected New Democrat Catherine Fife in 2012. He’s marshalling the same support for Niagara Falls.

“It’s boots on the ground that wins elections and we’re going to have lots of them down there,” he told me.

Ryan said every union in the province is involved.

He was more specific about his focus on Hudak in tweets Wednesday.

“Excellent OFL meeting today with 28 union leaders reaching consensus on action plan to ensure Hudak never becomes premier,” he said.

He also tweeted: “Mobilizing 1 million workers, their families and friends to ensure Hudak does not destroy the middle class.”

(Interestingly, OPSEU president Warren “Smokey” Thomas, whom the Tories keep demonizing, didn’t attend the meeting.)

I’ve had enough of unions running this province.

They talk about protecting the jobs of the middle class, when the jobs they’re really interested in protecting are those of the union leadership.

That said, Hudak needs to get out and more clearly explain why right-to-work is important.

With the loss of thousands of good union jobs when Heinz announced it was closing its Leamington plant and Kelloggs said it was shutting down in London, people are realizing the status quo isn’t working. The manufacturing sector is dying.

Those jobs aren’t going to China or Bangladesh. They’re going to right-to-work states in the United States.

Margaret Thatcher brought in right-to-work legislation in the United Kingdom 30 years ago and unions are still thriving there.

It only killed bad unions. Unions that do a good job representing their flock survive and flourish.

If it stops unions from meddling in politics against the will of their membership, it can’t come fast enough for me.


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