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CME Says Proposed Law (Ontario) is Regressive and Undemocratic

By CO Staff @canadaone |

Ontario -- Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, Canada’s longest-standing business association, has criticized Ontario's provincial government over Bill 144, proposed legislation that would amend Ontario's Labour Standards Act (1995).

They are concerned that the legislation, which recently passed second reading, is regressive, undemocratic and could potentially result in labour strife that could cost Canada's economy billions.

Currently union certification can only occur if the union has the expressed consent of the employees through a secret ballot vote. However, Bill 144 would result in the appointment of what Ian Howcroft, vice president for the Ontario division for CME describes as "... arbitrarily appointed government body that is accountable to no-one".

"Bill 144 threatens to undermine the fundamental underpinnings of democratic society -- an individual’s right to choose representation,” said Ian Howcroft, Vice President, Ontario Division for CME. “Bill 144 would establish the Ontario Labour Relations Board with arbitrary powers to certify unions, even where it may be against the wishes of the majority of the employees."

Howcroft explains that in 1998 a strike at a brake plant in Flint, Michigan upset the auto parts supply chain that resulted in a $20-billion loss to the Canadian economy.

CME is also concerned about that Bill 144 will bring back card based certification in the construction industry, which could spread to other industries as well. With card certification individuals are asked to sign a card to indicate their willingness to bring in a union, which opens the door to pressure tactics being used to coerce signatures.

Paul Clipsham, a policy analyst with CME says that businesses should be concerned because these changes could increase charges of contravention, which could result in unionization even if the majority of employees do not want a union. Clipsham paints a possible scenario where a misinterpreted comment by a middle manager could result in a charge of contravention and unionization.

Clipsham says that employees should also be concerned as Bill 144 will take away their right to have the final say on whether or not their workplace will be unionized.

A number of leading business organizations have created a coalition to oppose Bill 144. You can learn more about this legislation at their website, Bill 144: Democracy Under Attack.

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