October 03, 2009

Bill 80

This is Bill 80

There is an official petition against the Bill 80

Bill 80 is believed to be unnecessary and cumbersome. It is going to drive down the income of those who are working in construction sector just when wages are finally catching up with the rest of Canada, the government wants to roll them back, lead to unnecessary competition between career counterparts. It would create two parallel systems for the construction industry in Saskatchewan -- one for existing unions under the old legislation, and a new one aimed at getting out-of-province contractors and unions to come to Saskatchewan. The Bill is announced without consulting and notifying to construction labor forces and organizations. It is a “solution to a problem that doesn't exist”.

Bill 80 will make the workplace less democratic. Under the old system, workers were free to choose to be unionized or non-unionized. If they chose to be unionized, they would be represented by the craft union associated with their trade. And if the workers later decided they didn't want to be unionized, they could apply to the Labour Relations Board to have their union decertified. Not so under Bill 80. It allows employers to pick the union to represent the workers. Letting the boss choose the union is no choice at all.

Bill 80 allows employees a back door to get out of their union certifications. It will let employees shed their unions if they can prove that a union has been inactive for a period of three years -- even if that occurred in the distant past and during a period when the employer in question had no employees.

Right now, if a union doesn't represent its membership for three years, a company can go to the labour board and have that union decertified. We have no problem with that; a union must represent its members or face the consequences.

However, Bill 80 changes the rules and applies them retroactively. For example, consider a company that has been unionized for 25 years, was inactive for three years in the downturn of the 1980s and then started up again and has been in operation for the last 20 years. Under Bill 80, it could have its union decertified because of the three-year gap 20 years ago.

Each of these points is reason enough to reject Bill 80. But the most important reason to reject it is because this legislation resurrects old battles that have been put to rest between business and labour, and pits Saskatchewan workers against each other, union against union, and Saskatchewan contractors against large out-of-province rivals.

Above is paraphrased from The Starphoenix.

Following is the viewpoint of the writer, CEO of the Canadian Home Builders Association – Saskatchewan from Leader Post.

“Contractors are able to voluntarily recognize a union. That right already exists under the Trade Union Act. Such recognition is subject to challenges by other unions or by the employees of that contractor. The employees do have choices.

Collective bargaining agreements usually require the participation and agreement of both the employer and the union.

Bill 80 will provide workers with more choice about which union represents them, unlike the ill-conceived current provisions of the Construction Industry Labour Relations Act that makes this choice for the workers. Union leaders in the construction industry are going to have to work to organize and retain their membership, without the members simply being handed over to them as they are today.

Bill 80 clearly states that the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board will be the body to decide on any abandonment claims, not unionized contractors.”

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