Collective Bargaining Power Play
Ontario teachers, Bell ExpressVu employees, NHL hockey players.
What do all these groups have in common? They’re all engaged in, or trying their damnedest to be engaged in, collective bargaining.
But there’s a big spread when it comes to how each group has been treated by those they’re bargaining with.
Take the NHL players. They make heaps of money, the likes of which most of us will never see across the span of our lifetimes. Still, they’re not happy with their contracts, so they’re elbow-deep in bargaining collectively for something better. Negotiation is allowing all voices to be heard and points to be taken into consideration.
Teachers are also unhappy with a proposed contract. They’re being told by the government that they cannot disturb ‘business as usual’ with any labour disruptions, and thus must swallow a two-year pay freeze with half the sick days. Sure, they get to have a pension when they retire and benefits while they work, but their right to bargain is effectively being legislated out of their hands.
Finally, the Bell ExpressVu technicians. These 100 workers had been in talks with their employer over contracts since April 2011. But negotiations recently “broke down”, and instead of going back to the table, Bell illegally locked out the employees. Basically, Bell threw its weight around and decided it didn’t want to pay a fairer wage to the unionized technicians, despite spending millions to buy new media outlets on a regular basis.
Now, can you imagine if the NHL Players’ Association had been locked out? Told they had to accept a pay freeze, or that they weren’t allowed back on the ice because they spoke out against something they saw as unfair in their contract deals? Of course you can’t, because it just wouldn’t happen.
As soon as we take away the right to bargain, we take a sledgehammer to democracy as we know it.
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