Guest Blog also posted in the Huffington Post.

 

Part 2: Hudak and Harper Attempt to Silence their Critics

Sid Ryan, President, Ontario Federation Labour

This is part two of a three-part reply to Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak’s series of HuffPost blogs about his party’s “Path to Prosperity” white paper.

From Queen’s Park to Parliament Hill, if there is one lesson that Conservatives have learned from Indiana, Alabama, Louisiana and other states where “right-to-work” laws have decimated worker representation and driven down wages, it is that attacking unions is also the best way to silence your critics. It has become standard training for every new conservative strategist: you cannot implement a cheap labour economy without neutralizing opposition.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has led the way byattacking the finances of any group or individual that dared to criticize his policies: de-funding church-based charities and immigrant advocacy organizations, smearing environmental groups and firing outspoken public servants. And now, Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak is taking a page from the Harper playbook by attacking unions.

Because unions have an independent source of funding they are far less susceptible to the state-sanctioned bullying and financial blackmail regularly meted out by governments in collusion with the corporate elite. By undermining dues collection at source, Hudak hopes to undermine workers’ ability to oppose his agenda.

Last month, Hudak released his party’s white paper on “Flexible Labour Markets” and, in doing so, opened up a new attack on generations of hard-fought workers’ rights. In seeking to repeal the Rand Formula, Hudak opens an affront on workers’ rights that even former premier Mike Harris was unwilling to touch. The Rand Formula is a basic tenet of workplace democracy that was secured nearly 60 years ago to ensure that all those in the workplace who benefit from the improved wages and benefits achieved by the union make the same financial contribution. While the law allows workers not to join a union, they are required to contribute to charity an amount equivalent to the dues paid by union members.
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