Saturday, January 10, 2009

Union Dues and Don'ts

The National Post carries a story today examining how union bosses use forced dues to finance their pet political causes, ie Sid Ryan.

What caught my attention in the story was the reference it makes to Merv Lavigne. As the story rightly notes, Merv was a community college teacher who went to court to the mid-1980s in an effort to stop union bosses from using dues for politicking.

What the story does not note, is that Merv could only launch his court challenge because he had the financial support of the National Citizens Coalition.

In fact, the Merv case was the first-ever NCC campaign I worked on.

Anyway, in the article Larry Haiven, a management professor at St. Mary's University, says forcing unionized employees to support causes against their will is not a big deal.

"Unions are fairly democratic organizations, believe it or not," he said. "If the membership doesn't like what the union is doing, they can remove the person that is doing it, vote against the action ... members get a say and they get a chance to raise hell."

This misses the point.

Even if 51 percent of CUPE members, for instance, supported Ryan's position on Israel, it's still wrong to force the other 49 percent to financially support a cause they don't believe in.

In a true democracy, the rights of the minority must be protected. And that includes the right to associate which also means the right not to associate.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”


Anonymous said...

William says...

In Canadas constitution the right to "freedom of association" is enshrined and guarrantees my right to choose my political affiliation.

Unions are infringing that right by forcing me to financially support political causes I otherwise would NOT.

The supreme court should revisit their past ruling and limit union activities to a NON political mandate.

They say democracy is alive within unions, that may be true, but, my membership is forced upon me, allow me the option to "opt-out" or stop using my dues for political causes I DO NOT SUPPORT.

Anonymous said...

Just ask any non-lefty teacher in Ontario, a portion of whose union dues go toward the NDP, whether he or she had a say over where the money goes.

Brian said...

IT is completely untrue that members who are unhappy can do anything about this, unless they are willing to give up hours, and hours of their own time, fighting people who get to play the game on the company dime. It's not worth sweating the $70/month I pay in union dues for the time it would take to fight it.

And how do you fight it when the courts have shown they will side with the union, and the unions own constitution declared they will be left wing?

No, Prof Haiven, unions are not fairly democratic organizations.