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PC labour critic wants to make Ontario ‘right-to-work’ province

Standing alongside spokespeople for Merit Ontario and the Ontario Electrical League, PC labour critic Randy Hillier unveiled his private member’s bill to make Ontario the first right-to-work province in Canada. The bill will inevitably be rejected, but it warrants acknowledgement for the fact that such fever-pitched anti-unionism has reached our mainstream political discourse.

PC ‘Republicanization’

Hillier’s bill is a testament to the “Republicanization” of the Ontario PCs. Long-gone is the party of the Bill Davis middle-of-the-road Conservatives who helped establish Ontario’s progressive postwar labour law regime. That tradition died with Mike Harris, whose Common Sense Revolution scapegoated “the unions” along with welfare recipients and the poor in his war on working families.

Far from yesteryear’s Red Tories, today’s PCs seem to be taking their cues from the likes of far-right Republican governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Mitch Daniels of Indiana…

If the U.S. experience is any indication, right-to-work would suppress wages for both unionized and non-unionized workers in Ontario. Right-to-work laws lower wages for non-unionized workers because employers feel less concerned about staving off union organizing drives, and because union wage rates influence those in non-unionized firms.

A recent report by the Economic Policy Institute found that… full-time workers in right-to-work states are making approximately $1,500 less than their counterparts in free-bargaining states. Unionized and non-unionized workers in right-to-work states were also 4.8% and 5.3% respectively less likely to have an employer-sponsored pension plan.

Top 400 Americans richer than bottom 150M combined

If “the unions” were the cause of our economic woes, why it is that decades of declining unionization rates in North America have coincided lockstep with rapidly increasing inequality?

As a result of decades of declining unionization, in large part because of right-to-work laws in almost half the states, inequality in America is now so great that the top 400 Americans are richer than the bottom 150 million combined.

It is telling that when introducing a bill which purports to protect employees’ freedoms and financial interests that Hillier was not standing alongside workers, but rather by two lobbyists who have made careers out of attacking Ontario’s unionized construction industry.

False slogans

In 1961, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., warned that “we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work’...”

These words are as true today as the day they were spoken. There is a draw to politicians claiming to have found a panacea, but we must be leery of laws that serve big business in the name of employees, and which propose to weaken workers’ rights in the name of freedom.

Josh Mandryk’s full article can be found at: