Union dues come under the microscope

CUPE National President Reacts   http://www.lfpress.com

By MARK DUNN, Senior National Reporter

image Paul Moist

OTTAWA – A private member’s bill to force unions to disclose how they spend hundreds of millions of dollars in dues is not part of a larger plot to intimidate the labour movement and expose the relationship unions have with the NDP, says the MP who penned the legislation.

“It’s a bit of a coincidence. That’s the truth of it,” Russ Hiebert said about the timing of his bill to amend the Income Tax Act after some of the scuffles the Conservatives had with unions this summer.

The Conservatives ended a postal disruption with back-to-work legislation, twice threatened legislation to bring Air Canada workers back to the negotiating table and filed a complaint with Elections Canada about union involvement in the NDP’s spring convention.

Hiebert says his bill was in the works a year ago, and he wants unions to come in from the shadows and do what charities and others do by publicly disclosing, in the name of transparency and accountability, how they spend dues that are tax deductible to the workers who pay them.

“People might want to make some kind of connection, but there’s really not. This is simply Russ Hiebert, backbench MP, thinking about how I can contribute to the public dialogue and to the strength of our democracy, and I happen to believe that public disclosure does that.”

The NDP wasn’t buying it. Nor was Canada’s largest union.

“It’s another attack on the workers,” interim leader Nycole Turmel said outside the Commons.

Paul Moist, president of the 610,000-member Canadian Union of Public Employees, said his union is already constitutionally bound to release audited financial statements of its spending.

“On behalf of the largest union in the country I find it irritating, ideological and a bit of a cure for a non-existent ailment,” he said about the bill. “It’s nine parts ideological, one part business.”

Mark.Dunn@sunmedia.ca

Twitter:MarkDunnSun

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