Conservatives vote for lower wages, crappy benefits

The Conservative government just made headway in their push to weaken unions and drive wages down.

Legislation amending the Canada Labour Code and the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act is heading to the Senate after cabinet ministers and Conservative MPs lined up behind a caucus colleague's private member's bill to secure its passage at Third Reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday night.

Bill C-525, introduced by Alberta Conservative MP Blaine Calkins and drafted without consulting either the employer or union side, makes it tougher for workers to form a union under federal jurisdiction and easier to decertify one.

In addition to increasing the number of membership cards needed to trigger a certification vote, it eliminates the option to form a union through majority card check.

Currently, a union is certified if a majority of voters sign up for membership. If the Senate rubber stamps the bill, a ballot vote will be required, leaving workers vulnerable to intimidation by employers, false promises and threats. Studies show this step decreases the number of attempts to unionize and reduces their rate of success.

Here's what weakened unions means:

Drive wages down

On average, the hourly wages of unionized workers are almost $5 higher than non-unionized workers.

Hurt the middle class

A senior executive at Canadian Pacific summed up what unions accomplish during a recent roundtable discussion"When you talk to anyone remotely connected to the world, they understand the role of unions providing what we have today. They're a key driver in the creation of the middle-class, for the reduction of work hours, paid vacation, all sorts of benefits that we all enjoy," said Peter Edwards, CP's vice-president of human resources and labour relations.

Weaken the economy

Higher wages received by unionized workers injected an additional $786 million into the Canadian economy each week in 2013. Internationally, the World Bank has also identified the positive role that unions play in national economies, showing that "higher levels of unionization lead to higher income equality, lower unemployment and inflation, higher productivity and speedier adjustments to economic shocks."

Drive up poverty rates 

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) looked at some of the world's most developed countries to compare the impact of unionization on a country's poverty rate, and found that the lower the unionization rate, the higher the poverty rate.

Photo: momandsonUsed under a Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 licence.

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Conservative MP compares abortion battle to the struggle to end slavery

Anti-choice Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth is at it again, arguing zygotes are people too.

On Thursday, Woodworth will try to a push for a vote in the House of Commons to "affirm that every Canadian law must be interpreted in a manner that recognizes in law the equal worth and dignity of everyone who is in fact a human being."

Woodworth is a long-time anti-choice crusader who previously attempted to change the criminal code definition of 'human life' and called for the legal recognition of "the equal worth and dignity of every human being." (And he's got friends in the House of Commons.)

Taking to Twitter to make his case, Woodworth cited the rights of the unborn on par with the struggles against slavery, patriarchy, colonialism and racism.


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Vengeance? Former Stephen Harper advisor says "bad blood" behind Elections Canada attack

Could this week's all-out Conservative personal attack against the head of Elections Canada be about vengeance?

That's what Tory pundit Geoff Norquay suggested Tuesday night during a panel on CBC's Power and Politics. You see, Chief Elections Officer Marc Mayrand, a critic of the proposed Unfair Elections Act, took on the Conservative Party a few years back over the "in-and-out" election financing scandal.

The RCMP raided the Conservative Party's offices in 2008, and charges were laid against four senior officials including Senator Irving Gerstein. The charges were eventually dropped as part of a plea deal that saw the Conservatives and their fundraising arm plead guilty to Canada Elections Act charges for exceeding the maximum allowable spending limit in the 2006 campaign as well as filing incomplete election records.

The party was fined $52,000 for breaking election rules.

Watch Norquay, Stephen Harper's director of communications when he was in opposition, talk about the connection between this "old bad blood" and the Canada Elections Act.


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Conservatives "at peace" with unanimous opposition to Unfair Elections Act

Canada's Chief Elections Officer is a power-hungry guy who's making bogus and "astounding" statements about the government's proposed elections act to protect his budget and avoid accountability.

That's the latest assessment of Pierre Poilievre, the Harper government's point man on the Unfair Elections Act, who used his appearance Tuesday at Senate hearings into the bill to launch a personal attack against Marc Mayrand.

Mayrand is one of a string of non-partisan Parliamentary officers and elections experts who have come out against the bill. It's an affront to democracy, they say.

For the record, Poilievre is "at peace" with all this:


Jason Kenney needs your help to solve a problem he created

Employment Minister Jason Kenney is busy these days, acting completely shocked that McDonald's and other companies may be filling McJobs with temporary foreign workers instead of locals.

He's even asking the public, via Twitter, for help in finding wayward employers so he can crack down on abuse: 

How about just reviewing Statistics Canada's unemployment statistics and the country's weak employment rate, showing there are plenty of Canadians out of work? Then cross-reference applications from McDonald's and other companies looking for low-wage, low-skill migrant workers. 

How about just rejecting applications from companies like McDonald's seeking to fill low-wage, low-skill jobs with temporary foreign workers, knowing there are plenty of Canadians looking for work?

How about just checking the department's own data, showing sales and service jobs are the single biggest category. The number of TFW positions jumped from 23,650 in 2005 to 70,530 in 2012.

Or comb through all those permits in the "Accommodation and Food Services" sector (that's where those McDonald's jobs will be). The number of temporary foreign workers in these McJobs is way up, from 4,360 in 2005 to 44,740 in 2012.

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