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Gerry Nicholls fails to mention one key detail about unions

As is often the case details matter. In the National Post Gerry Nicholls undertakes a self-righteous screed against unions and political contributions. To hear Gerry tell the story unions are feudal organizations run by criminal “Bosses” who “squeeze” “dues” out of their members and then donate that money to political causes members do not support.

That of course sounds just awful.

Problem is unions (not the yellow-dog* variety of course) are democratic organizations with constitutions. As with most democratic organizations, including the parliament of Canada, decisions are made on majority basis and all residual discretionary decisions that are made are validated or invalidated by regularly held elections. If a majority of union members think their dues are too high or that elected executive has made bad choices in say political funding, as with all democratic organizations, the members can fire the executive in the next election.

There is nothing untoward going on here. I pay taxes to a government I did not elect and they spend money on quite few things I am totally opposed to: war, fighter jets, prisons etc., etc. I am of course free to criticize these policies and organize to get the government of the day unelected and push for policies that will spend other peoples money on things they may not want.

Whether in our national democratic structures or in unions, that is how democracy works for better or worse.

Gerry wants the union executive to hold a union wide referendum on every political funding decision. This may sound reasonable until one asks if it would sound reasonable to hold a national referendum on every new funding bill proposed by the sitting government of the day. We might well ask why we bothered to have elections in the first place.

*A yellow-dog union is a management dominated union which are technically illegal but legally practicable.

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