Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Erika Shaker describes the effect of the "right-to-work" laws so popular among our more regressive politicians:
“Right-to-Work” still remains a dubious—even Orwellian—term, probably because we have a sweatshop-sized vat of research documenting examples of what this scheme has meant for those American jurisdictions that have implemented it. Higher rates of poverty and child mortality; lower per-capita income, life expectancy and standard of living; fewer people covered by health insurance; and significantly lower levels of worker productivity.

Let me say that again. Right-to-Work states experience significantly lower levels of worker productivity (which I guess free market types feel is so totally worth it if it means they can bash a union or two).
- Meanwhile, the Star reports on CEP's approval of a merger with the CAW - along with the new union's more ambitious goals to organize workers outside of normal workplace settings:
Nearly 1,500 delegates to a CEP convention in Quebec City endorsed the merger, paving the way for creation of a new super-union with the financial resources and political clout to tackle the challenges facing the labour movement.

“Today we witnessed history being made. This isn’t just a step forward for the labour movement. It’s a step forward for progressive people in this country,” said Dave Coles, national president of the CEP. “It sends a very clear message, we believe, to the Conservatives and any other political group that thinks that they can attack workers.”

The new union, which would represent 320,000 workers across some 20 industries, aims to aggressively expand its membership, financial resources and political clout. It will also seek mergers with additional unions.

While it still doesn’t have a name or a leadership structure, it does have a vision — to recruit as many people from as many walks of life as possible, including seniors, students and the unemployed.
- And Duncan Cameron weighs in on the merger:
Proponents of the new union know what is going wrong today. As Kennedy put it, neo-liberalism is not working for the 99 per cent. Dave Coles talked about how decency is disappearing and Canadians suffer as big government and big business work together against the interests of working people.

What is going to be tested in the next months is the ability to deliver on the promise that creating a new union, over 300,000 strong, will make things better for its members, and have the kind of impact on the politics of the country that proponents of the merger want to see. 
- Finally, Mark Jarvis discusses how the most important story out of Dalton McGuinty's recent machinations is his willingness to accept Stephen Harper's belief that democratic government is a mere inconvenience to be shut down at will:
Prorogation is not a mechanism designed to afford the current government a political advantage in the exercise of power.

Yet, in recent years we have seen first ministers misuse the power of prorogation to avoid confidence votes, delay reporting by officers of parliament, escape questioning and scrutiny, and side-step accountability for matters of public policy and administration.

This most recent prorogation terminates an ongoing investigation of contempt against one of McGuinty’s ministers  and effectively precludes anticipated motions of contempt against an additional minister and McGuinty himself until a new session of the legislature, when McGuinty will no longer be premier.

This alone renders this prorogation an abuse.
But there is something even more disconcerting afoot.

Across the country prime ministers and premiers are making it clear that they see legislatures – our elected representatives – as an undue burden. Whether as a means of managing legislative impasses or risks of losing confidence or simply to escape scrutiny, first ministers have demonstrated a predilection for simply shutting down the respective legislative assemblies in their jurisdictions.

It is worth examining the premier’s own words in explaining the prorogation. In an email sent to Liberal supporters McGuinty said: “I’ve asked the Lieutenant Governor to prorogue the legislature to allow those discussions with our labour partners and the opposition to occur in an atmosphere that is free of the heightened rancour of politics in the legislature…”

The “rancour” that Premier McGuinty is so dismissive of is an essential dynamic of public accountability within our democratic system, which sees partisan politics – institutionalized adversarialism – as the best means of securing democracy.


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