Worker's Choice

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Principles

• Free men and women have the fundamental right to association or non-association and to make that choice as individuals without coercion from others.

• Unions have a valuable role in a modern economy as voluntary associations of individuals coming together to bargain collectively.

• Unions should be accountable to their members.

• Unions have a right to strike and picket, provided they do not obstruct access to property.

 

Objectives

• To respect the individual choices of workers to form, join or leave unions.

• To strengthen the consensual bond between union leadership and individual workers.

• To ensure that there is no conflict-of-interest between the quality-control objectives of professional associations and the collective bargaining objectives of unions.

• To maintain the balance between peaceful expression through picketing and the right to use property.

 

Policy

• Membership in unions will be a voluntary decision between a worker and his or her union.
o Workers who wish to be a union member may freely do so.
o Workers who wish to opt out of union membership may freely do so, as long as membership is not a condition of employment.

• Card-check certification will be repealed and the secret ballot restored for all union certification applications.

• Payment of dues will not be compelled by a union and will only be collected with the consent of the worker unless required in a collective agreement.

• Spending of union dues will be limited to only the functions of collective bargaining and collective agreement administration.

• Full union financial disclosure will be provided annually to all union members who have paid their dues. 

• Picketing will not be allowed to restrict access to businesses, workplaces and private property.

• ‘Reverse onus’ provisions under the Labour Relations Code against unions or employers will be ended.

• Professional associations and unions will be independent of one-another.

• Remove first-contract arbitration from the Labour Relations Code. 

 

Reasoning

• Voluntary union membership: Making union membership voluntary will respect the rights of workers to make decisions as individuals, and make unions more accountable to their members.
o Requirement of employment: In some cases, employers may choose to make union membership a requirement of employment (e.g., by making membership a requirement under a collective agreement), but this will be a decision between two consenting parties in a contract and not a requirement of the government.

• Card check: The secret ballot is a fundamental democratic right and is not up for compromise. 

• Voluntary union dues: Making the payment of union dues voluntary will make union leadership more accountable to its members.
o Business associations and not-for-profit associations collect their own dues from their members, making those organizations more accountable for the results that they produce for them.

• Restricting spending of dues to collective bargaining and agreement administration: Unions exist to bargain and administer collective agreements for their members, and not to engage in other activities. Activities beyond these purposes should take place under another legal framework or be separated from the normal dues payments which may be required under collective agreements.
o Though union dues could be required if union membership is a requirement of employment, employees would be protected from the use of those dues for purposes unrelated to collective bargaining and agreement administration.

• Full financial disclosure: Union members often have great difficulty in obtaining detailed financial information as to how union leaders have spent their funds. A full, annual disclosure should be made to paid members.

• Picketing: Some unions have abused provisions allowing picketing to restrict the flow of people and goods into and out of workplaces during labour disputes. Picketing should be allowed, but only so long as it does not obstruct the movement of goods and people.

• Reverse onus: There should be a presumption of innocence before the law and ‘reverse-onus’ provisions against either employers or unions should be scrapped.

• Separation of professional associations (PAs) and unions: While the membership composition of some professional associations and unions may largely overlap, their mandates in the public and private interest do not. Separating these will better allow PAs to fulfil their largely public interest mandate independently of the largely private interest mandate of unions.

• First contract arbitration: The status quo encroaches upon the freedom of contract and results in the imposition of a collective agreement that would otherwise not be freely negotiated between the parties.