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Government Vs Unions: Tory Appointed Arbitrator Removed

Government Vs Unions: Tory Appointed Arbitrator Removed

When Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) couldn’t come to a labor agreement by themselves last summer, the Harper Government imposed arbitration and back to work legislation.

The opposition filibustered and it took three days for the legislation to get through, but eventually the union, representing 48,000 postal workers, were pushed into binding arbitration. The Harper Government named an arbitrator and moved on to other issues (including shutting down three more strikes, those by different Air Canada unions).

On August 8, the negotiations between Canada Post and CUPW was back in the news because the union had fought successfully in Federal Court to have the arbitrator removed. Why did they want Guy Dufort removed? Because he had been a candidate for the Conservative Party in 2008. He also represented Canada Post during a battle with the union on pay equity.

CUPW approached the court after Dufort refused to remove himself in April 2012, stating that there was no conflict.

The first government appointed arbitrator was removed from the case because he wasn’t bilingual. The union has now requested a mediator rather than a third arbitrator.

How long will Canada’s postal workers be left working without a contract?

Related Stories:

Government Threatens Legislation to End Canada Post Lockout

Canada Post Legislation Debate Drags On

Canada Post Locks Out Workers

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Photo Credit: Michael Gill

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48 comments

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8:26AM PDT on Aug 17, 2012

Hi Eric :)

Sorry about the delay. I got caught up in another discussion about the nature of human rights.

It's not really much of a knot:
The first problem is that we're talking about an extra $1,223.40 per person without a corresponding increase in production or services. Demand for basic goods and services would certainly go up so there would be physical growth, but we can easily see the same effect (and normally to a greater degree) from major investors' accumulation of wealth and their increased investment. Also, that economic growth would be accounted for by additional monetary growth. Such an increase in the monetary economy, which goes beyond increases in the physical one, just drive inflation, not real growth, and in this case the inflation would specifically drive up the cost of basic goods, sending the unemployed into even greater poverty, driving up social security-costs, and not really benefiting the working poor very much long-term.

The second problem s that rational economic behaviour is not to remove extra money from the economy. How would you remove it from the economy while protecting your savings against inflation? The normal course of action, particularly among people whose income comes primarily from investments, is to invest. Most of that money very much stays in the economy. It certainly does not go 100% back in, but money kept "out" (as profit) is the financial cushion used to survive economic downturns. The Big 3 auto-companies in the U.S.,

12:36AM PDT on Aug 14, 2012

@There's a benefit to keeping money in a corporate environment that then removes money from the state's economy instead of putting it in the pockets of people who don't have the luxury of being able to invest their money elsewhere?

Rational economic behaviour for anyone who doesn't have to use money for living expenses is to remove money FROM the local economy--it's called spreading risk. Corporations do it. Wealthy people do it. People earning an average wage don't have that luxury. They tend to spend their monies locally because they don't have the OPTION to do otherwise.

As for union dues--at best that's a (assuming 15% participation rate) a $300 union due is a $4500/100 person drag on my previous calculation.

As for social supports for the 1 in 100 that are unemployed--instead of $10 000 let's assume the whole $32 000 goes to the person. No, let's assume the person gets the FULL average wage of $44 000 paid out to them from gov't coffers.

As for 60% full time participation rate--that IS realistic for the US. Yes, in most Western jurisdictions it is 50% but in the US the number is above the 60% mark so it's a fair assumption.

Using these EXTREMELY conservative numbers, society would still have a NET benefit per 100 individuals of $160 840 - $34 000 - $4500 or $122 340 per 100 people.

You're going to have to spin yourself into a delicious rightwing Republican-Fox News knot of denial to argue that a NET benefit of $1.2 billion per 1 million people, AFTER EN

8:35PM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

Hi Eric :)

(sorry about the double, con't)

Decreased production also damages the physical economy so that extra monetary growth is inflationary rather than real wealth-production. There are also serious social impacts.

There is also a problem with the assumed scenario for the part-time workers: Total Western labour participation-rates tend to be below 60% before counting unemployment. (Canada reports it above, but that does not count residents of Native reservations.) It's actually a pretty sad picture.

There are also non-economic problems without "right to work". I have seen cases of unions rejecting would-be members in non-right-to-work scenarios. They effectively vetoed hiring for either (nativist) protectionist reasons (Michigan), because they wanted to avoid whistle-blowers in a corrupt work-culture (Quebec public sector), or because they wanted a worker-shortage to absolutely ensure current members' job-security.

8:33PM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

Hi Eric :)

I know ANH is a pretty seriously biased source. That is why I rejected their numbers the first two times I came across them. Unfortunately, the only other numbers I could find were either on heavily anti-union blogs or here: http://home.earthlink.net/~local1613/investment.html

The numbers from the pro-union report were from self-reported unions and found that, not even counting inflation, union-dues were already on average $396 (industrial unions), $372 (craft), or $274 (public sector) / year then. After inflation, that comes pretty close to the ANH numbers. That's why I ended up taking them. Of course, regardless, those are U.S. numbers, not Canadian, which I would prefer, given the topic of the thread.

There are things missed in your calculations of societal benefit. There is a benefit in keeping money in the corporations. That money is the financial padding which they use during recessions and market-fluctuations, and goes, to a great degree, to the stability of the economy. Also, there are serious costs related to unemployment: There are losses of efficiency when transferring funds from the private economy through government to welfare-programs, to help the unemployed. In total, I would be not be surprised at all if, despite the $32K in revenues per 100 people, the government actually loses money due to the increased unemployment. Decreased production also damages the physical economy so that extra monetary growth is inflationary rather than real wealt

8:32PM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

Hi Eric :)

I know ANH is a pretty seriously biased source. That is why I rejected their numbers the first two times I came across them. Unfortunately, the only other numbers I could find were either on heavily anti-union blogs or here: http://home.earthlink.net/~local1613/investment.html

The numbers from the pro-union report were from self-reported unions and found that, not even counting inflation, union-dues were already on average $396 (industrial unions), $372 (craft), or $274 (public sector) / year then. After inflation, that comes pretty close to the ANH numbers. That's why I ended up taking them. Of course, regardless, those are U.S. numbers, not Canadian, which I would prefer, given the topic of the thread.

There are things missed in your calculations of societal benefit. There is a benefit in keeping money in the corporations. That money is the financial padding which they use during recessions and market-fluctuations, and goes, to a great degree, to the stability of the economy. Also, there are serious costs related to unemployment: There are losses of efficiency when transferring funds from the private economy through government to welfare-programs, to help the unemployed. In total, I would be not be surprised at all if, despite the $32K in revenues per 100 people, the government actually loses money due to the increased unemployment. Decreased production also damages the physical economy so that extra monetary growth is inflationary rather than real wealt

2:12PM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

@Dean: There's no government subsidy involved so what does it matter how they run their business?

It's ENTIRELY self-funded. Canada Post doesn't get any operational subsidies.

As for the mail delivery--I think you'd be surprised how much goes through the mail and what percentage of people still receive a substantial amount of mail. Despite the fact that a lot of material goes through e-mail now, mail volumes have not dropped dramatically.

PS It's funny how arm chair quarterbacks like to propose downright insane solutions. Even the detritus that populate the Conservative Party of Canada aren't crazy enough to think that mail is dead (besides, most of their self-centered, religious electorate are so old or Luddite that they wouldn't know what e-mail was if it hit them in the Blackberry).

They'd love to sell off Canada Post at a bargain basement price to their corporate cronies like all good neo cons do (the sale of the toll highway 407 in Ontario is a great example of neoconservative collusion and corruption) but they still recognise that postal services are a viable and NECESSARY service.

10:17AM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

We need to layoff at least half of them! Before you slam me for the statement think about it... with the interent their is less material in the mail, and their is nothing that is truely urgent that goes though the mail anymore. Could we not live with mail delivery just once a week? I know I could. Yes, it is unfortunate to have to put these people out of work, but its a far greater waste of tax payers money to keep so many employed when their is no need.

6:37AM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

BTW Now think of the taxes that you can collect on $160 000 per 100 people. Let's assume a 20% rate. 20% of 160K is 32K.

If you were to provide that one in one hundred person with supports while they're looking for work at a cost of $10K (which seems high given the US doesn't provide much of anything to the unemployed) the state gov't would still be ahead $22K in taxes and society at large would still be richer after-tax by $128K for every 100 people.

It's pretty obvious that right-to-work states are so not because they benefit society at large but because of ideological (or corporate) reasons.

SOME corporations will like those environments, but, the reality is that many corporations employing a well educated workforce have discovered that they can't set up shop in those jurisdictions because highly educated people put two and two together to figure out that right-to-work is just a euphemism for getting screwed. These laws will hurt those states that implement them. I feel sorry for the people who live there, but, in the end they're the idiots that voted for those politicians--you get the government you deserve.

4:55AM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

BTW I don't quite like the way I incorporated pensions into this scenario but they're not going to be off by more than a few percent either direction.

4:54AM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

Whoever thought ideology was driven by concern for the welfare of people?

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