This exposes what some segments of the union movement, particularly in the public sector, have descended to
I astonished my show host. So much for being predictable.
When asked in an interview by Jamil Jovani on Newstalk 1010 this week my reaction to a local Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation unit’s new policy of giving each visible minority member more votes than White members, I responded that I was ecstatic — not outraged and disgusted as Jovani expected.
I should have long ago ceased being surprised by the sheer obtuseness, even doltishness, of many unions and the left. But usually, their more outrageous moves are less transparent, more obfuscatory, more intended to deceive than to shock.
Until this move, unions at least purported to be democratic institutions. You know what I mean: one member, one vote, all of that.
Their very raison d’etre was supposed to be about rebalancing the lack of democratic power that employees have relative to their employers.
But an OSSTF local representing 1,400 members voted by an overwhelming majority to give 50 per cent of all votes to their visible minority voters. If, for example, visible minority votes are a sixth of the voting group, each Black, East Indian, Asian or Aboriginal voter gets five times the vote of a white voter. It is actually even more absurd than that, since it applies to the branch presidents of the local unit so that individual members’ votes will count for more or less depending upon whether their particular representative is racialized.
Of course, that in turn will ensure that voters are compelled to elect persons of colour so they will have more leverage.
Take an example we can all relate to: we have this voting system in Parliament where there are relatively few racialized MPs. But If you adopted the OSSTF policy, every one of those few would have 40 or so times the votes of white MPs.
Most Canadians would be disenfranchised and everyone would know that to be effectively represented, they had better vote for a visible member of Parliament the next time, regardless of their party.
Political correctness gone mad? Leave it to the unions.
It is not just the practical implications of this new voting policy. It is also likely illegal.
Section 6 of the Ontario Human Rights Code gives every person a right to equal treatment with respect to membership in any trade union , without discrimination because of race and colour. There is a section 14(1) exception for “special programmes” designed to assist disadvantaged groups achieve equal opportunity, but they would have a hard time saying that applies to racialized local union presidents who obtained their positions through understanding and working the system already.
Why am I delighted? Because it exposes what some segments of the union movement, particularly in the public sector, have descended to.
And it will not only be those members who worry that their votes will no longer be meaningful. Even many visible minority union voters who are unfairly “advantaged” by this policy will be uncomfortable and upset. As the OSSTF story hit the news and teachers were called for comment, they were instructed that they could not speak and that only Cindy Gage, the local president, was allowed to speak. Union democracy in action.
Union members have already been struggling through COVID-19. While to non-union employees, a layoff or cut in wages or hours is a constructive dismissal, allowing them to sue for wrongful dismissal damages, layoffs are entirely legal for union members and they have no recourse.
But even if they had recourse for, say, cuts in salaries, the union still has to agree to take the case and they can refuse to take even meritorious cases if they decide that spending that money on arbitration is not in the overall interest of the union. And if a fired member with a perfectly good case is not represented, they have no effective recourse and cannot sue in court. Their chance of having the union’s decision overturned by a labour board is almost nil.
Members can, in response to lunacy such as this, try to vote out the existing union brass. But if they fail, good luck to them getting along or not being punished later by their union “brothers.” Try grieving after that.