Tuesday, October 16, 2012

On end goals

Since the Regina Chamber of Commerce apparently isn't too fond of having its own words pointed out publicly, I'll offer a quick refresher as to how its statements about its desire to shut down workers' political activity compare to its sad claim to free speech.

Again, here are two separate questions and answers from the Chamber's submission on labour legislation. First up...
Are trade unions sufficiently accountable?

No, the issue is that unions will on many occasions support causes or political parties that do not reflect some of the membership.
Now, I'll first note that the answer doesn't particularly reflect the question. (Which, as we'll see, makes for a rather important common thread.) But if we assume there is a relationship between the two themes, it only makes sense if one takes the position that an organization is insufficiently accountable if it may "support causes or political parties that do not reflect some of the membership".

And by all indications, the Chamber has no interest in meeting that standard for itself - both based on its electoral boundary submission as noted in comments to my previous post, and its "if they don't like it, they can leave" position made explicit in today's letter.

That leads to the second question and answer which by all accounts puts the Chamber's desire to attack workers in its full context:
Should union members be able to stipulate what their dues are used for?

Yes, this would stop unions from being quasi political entities and force them to represent the interest of the workers they represent.
Once again, there's an obvious gap between the question and the answer - and one which gives the game away for the Chamber.

The question is indeed aimed at directed dues, where individual union members - unlike individual members of any other collective body, the Chamber included - would be entitled to set limits on how contributions would be used. And by implication, a union wouldn't be stopped from political participation except to the extent individual members' choices so dictate.

But that's not enough for the Chamber. Instead, it goes a step further by answering that there should be some separate intention to "stop unions from being quasi political entities" - suggesting that contrary to the newest spin, the Chamber wants to make sure that unions can't carry out effective action no matter how many members support it.

At best, one might argue that the Chamber's answer merely assumes that not a single union member would accept having dues used for political purposes. From that assumption, its unprompted comment on completely silencing the labour movement would merely be a direct consequence of the stipulated dues policy.

But I wonder how much that constitutes projection on its own part. Again, the Chamber's members don't seem to be receiving much chance to offer contrary views before having dues used for its own misleading ad campaign - and the next hint the Chamber sees any problem with that will be the first.

Either way, it's the Chamber that's somewhere between unconcerned and downright giddy at the prospect that changes to labour law might stop unions from having any political involvement. And the more the Chamber tries to silence unions in the name of free speech, the more reason its members will have to wonder just what it is that they're funding.

[Edit: fixed wording.]

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