http://www.cupe.bc.ca/ Posted: May 27, 2013
Talk about irony! At the same time the Senate is reeling from scandal after scandal of unaccountable spending and inappropriate expense claims from Conservative Senators, it is also debating Bill C-377 for final debate before it becomes law.
As you may know, if made law, Bill C-377 would require far more detailed public reporting of finances by labour unions. That sounds fine, until you remember that CUPE – and the vast majority of unions in Canada—already provides members with detailed reports on the state of our finances to our members in writing.
This legislation follows a pattern of ideological, anti-union politics from conservative and right wing governments in North America that began to emerge a few years ago in Wisconsin and other so-called “right to work” states in the US.
Not only would the legislation require CUPE and all other unions in Canada to make public such information as salaries and compensation for officers and staff—information which is already public—but it would require unions to spend far more money to report the information. Just think of the irony—a government that supposedly wants to cut bureaucracy and red tape is writing reams of red tape and forcing unions to spend more of members’ dues to tell members what we already tell them! It makes no sense at all, until you think about the politics of it.
It’s no secret that CUPE and most other unions in Canada support the New Democratic Party, and not the Conservatives. And that’s what this is really all about. Stephen Harper, his MPs and his now-disgraced Senators like Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau don’t want unions to exercise their right to free speech. They are trying to remove the right of CUPE members to have the organization they belong to express their views politically.
And they’re doing it under the guise of “transparency” at the same time as we read about lavish expense accounts and personal cheques from Mr. Harper’s chief of staff to “bail out” Senator Duffy.
Nationally, CUPE is working with the Canadian Labour Congress to educate Canadians to the anti-democratic provisions of this legislation, and the national union is also launching a wide-ranging comprehensive campaign within our own membership, and we’ll be actively participating in that campaign as a Division. Here in BC, we may face our own challenges in the coming months and years from the re-elected BC Liberal government. We will be communicating and working with the government as it’s formed (and with the newly sworn-in NDP Official Opposition) to ensure our union’s democratic rights—and more importantly, the rights of our members—are respected, protected and enhanced.
Mark Hancock is President of CUPE BC.