Article by Dimitri Papadopoulos
It’s common practice that many union delegates want to present themselves and their union corporation as “THE Defenders of Worker’s rights“. And that’s what many believe.
It’s also a popular belief that a Labour Union has an obligation to represent the interests of the unionized worker in times he needs it the most. And that’s what union representatives want us to believe, and that’s how they market themselves.
Most, if not all, Labour Union Activists in Canada present themselves as “Socialists”, many of the “Social-Democrat” ideology. And we believe them.
That’s all nice theory, mostly found printed in nice-looking glossy promotional fliers and websites. But let’s put aside Labor Union marketing theory and let’s examine what happens in the real word: That is when a worker willfully or against his will becomes a paying member of a union.
Enter reality, enter “Duty of Fair Representation”
(commonly referred as “DFR” in union lingo)
Unionized workers have no rights.
Let’s get the facts straight from the get-go. First and foremost, notwithstanding the theoretical provisions of both Labour Legislation and the Collective Agreement, a unionized member has absolutely no guaranteed rights within his union, and the union has absolutely no obligations whatsoever to represent any of it’s workers. A unionized worker is not a party of the Agreement. Unionized members are just appendages to the union and nothing more. The Collective Agreement is a contract between the Union and the Employer. As such, it goes without saying that a non-party of any Agreement or Contract, has no rights over it. Similarly, unionized workers have absolutely no rights whatsoever over the Collective Agreement, and the Union has absolutely no real representation obligations over it’s paying members. Unions can do pretty much whatever they want with their union members with respect to labour issues.
Unions have certain responsibilities, but absolutely no obligations towards workers they claim to represent. Among these responsibilities is that the union may not act in bad faith. However, the burden of the proof lies within the worker to prove it, and unless the union makes a written statement (called prima-facie evidence in union lingo) that it deliberately acted in bad faith towards the worker, its pretty much doomed to be a lost case for the worker in question.
“Unionized employees do not have an absolute right to arbitration and the union enjoys considerable discretion” ~ Supreme Court of Canada
The above were the words of a unanimous ruling at the Supreme Court of Canada in a case where Mr. Guy Gagnon, a sailor, lost his job and his union refused to take his grievance to arbitration. This is a reference case today, and since that ruling was issued in 1984, an ever increasingly number of unions simply opt to refuse to take workers complaints to arbitration. bringing forward this reference ruling, they can legally do it, and that’s what many do.
In that case, the Union did not hesitate to oppose the poor sailor up to the Supreme Court of Canada. The poor sailor, as the decision mentions, was being ordered to pay for it’s union’s legal fees. Enough to make any worker to begin asking questions about their “representatives” at work.
“incompetence, poor judgment, negligence or dispensing of bad advice from Unions is not a breach for DFR legislation” ~ MFD
No securities guaranteed to unionized workers.
Should provisions of the Collective Agreement or of the Labour Law not being respected, and as a result is causing serious disadvantages to the worker or worker has been unjustly being laid off, the unionized worker has the right to file a grievance form to his union. That however is no guarantee that the union will pursue worker’s grievance. If the union opts to neglect the complaint, the case can pretty much end there.
If the unionized worker is not satisfied that his grievance form was being neglected, the unionized worker can file a “DFR Complaint” against his union to his Provincial Labour Relations Board (or if in a federal jurisdiction, to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board). These Boards are the institutions that provide accreditations to unions, and are known to heavily lean towards the union side.
Year after year, statistics show that 99% of all DFR Complaints for union misrepresentation that disadvantaged unionized workers filed for a union redress, were dismissed right from the get go. In any given province, the provincial Board receives on average 1000 DFR complaints. 990 are dismissed.
Here’s the most recent DFR public decision from the Canadian Indistrial Relations Board. Please allow me not to make any comments. Anyone can make it’s own conclusions about the treatment and degree of reprsentations that unionized workers receive in Canada, as well as the [lack of] protection of the law. Please draw your own conclusions.
It’s routine for unions to get “DFRed” at Boards for misrepresenting their workers. However, knowing that the disadvantaged worker is almost guaranteed to loose, they couldn’t care less.
No right to Court Appeal.
Current Canadian Legislation does not allow unionized workers to appeal a dismissed Board decisions. The worker may ask for a Judicial Review in a Court of Appeal, but unless the worker is able to provide evidence that the Board violated Natural Justice, an impossible vague concept to prove, it’s pretty much a lost case. Statistics show 99.9% of Judicial Reviews from unionized workers are dismissed in Courts of appeal.
Then, the next and last process that a worker has access to, is to file an application for permission to appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada. There, recent statistics show that 100% of all such applications are dismissed with no explanations.
The screwed worker may now be asked to pay for very expensive [and oftentimes exaggerated] legal costs that his union theoretically uncured. Matter of the fact is that most unions pay a yearly flat rate for all their legal services and as such it doesn’t cost the union a penny more.
Screwed worker may opt to pay or go for a Chapter 11, and move on with life.
Do unions fight for worker’s rights?
Workers have no absolute rights within a labour union. Unions extensively lobby at both political and Judicial levels for their own interests; oftentimes supporting anti-worker legislation. (such as No Right to Appeal, No Absolute right to arbitration, Patent Unreasonableness Test Standards, and many other similar anti-worker notions that unions extensively use both in Boards and in Courts against workers.
Unions more Opportunists than Socialists
In many blogs and forums, we oftentimes witness the the Union Movement claiming to be socialists and advocate for democratic principles.’
All flavours of the true socialist concept, particularly the real Social-Democrat ideology, it calls for social justice, worker’s rights, human rights, social rights, social security, civil rights and civil liberties, among others.
All flavours of democracy advocate for Equality before the law, due process of law, judicial independence, freedom of speech, and many other civil liberties among others. From the above principles, many, if not all unions that claim to advocate for democracy and socialism, we repeatedly witness that such unions are in fact actively and systematically going against the values they claim to believe.
“Due Process of Law” is a fundamental principle of democracy, a principle that the Canadian constitution does not mention, and no union in this county ever advocated for Due Process of Law. Hence the questionable legal decision making process by both Unions and Tribunals in Labour related matters against disadvantaged workers.
These self-called social-democrats, have substituted the concept of “Due Process of Law” by several “tests” they bring forward at Courts, such as the Patent Unreasonableness Test that comes to defeat the Judicial Independence as theoretically is being guaranteed by the Canadian Constitution.
The issue here is that in today’s society anyone can claim anywhere that is a socialist that supports democracy, without having the slightest notion of their fundamental principles. Their actions can only serve as evidence that such individuals are an embarrassment to the Socialist ideology and a nuisance to democratic values.
Its evidently clear that such unions advocate for Opportunism. That is the conscious policy and practice of taking selfish advantage of circumstances, with little or no regard for principles. Opportunism has the connotation of lack of integrity, more often than not, getting involved in dubious, unjustifiable and illegitimate activities.
Its really unfortunate that such opportunists are impostering and presenting themselves as defenders of worker’s rights and social-democratic principles.
It’s very unfortunate that Canadians unionized workers are cursed by Union Institutions that have done everything in their power to actively lobby for anti-worker legislation. Even more disturbing, is the fact that politicians of all major political parties support or are totally indifferent to such union-led anti-worker tactics and legislation.
What a union can legally do in 13 little steps to put any worker on the street:
1- You get fired within 4 days notice; (ie your hours have been reduced to only 4 hours per week, so as not to appear that you got “fired” per se)
2- you ask your union for support;
3- your union sends you to hell;
4- you’re left out on the street;
5- unemployed, you file a DFR complaint;
6- The CIRB dismisses complaint because “screwed worker did not establish that Natural Justice was violated by union” (go figure what that is…)
7- Courts, including the Supreme Court support such policy.
8- Take the case to court in an attempt to find justice;
9- Union hires country’s top union lawyers to OPPOSE WORKERS (having close ties with the LRB community);
10- workers loose in court;
11 – unions then can ask for [exaggerated] legal fees;
12- unions can make more money out of unemployed workers.
13- or workers, unable to pay union exaggerated legal costs, can file for Chapter 11. (or whatever chapter is in Canada dealing with union-assisted Bankruptcy)
Enough me make anyone question if Labour Unions raison-d’être should seriously be questioned.
There’s absolutely no doubt that Canadian Labour Unions Raison d’être should seriously be questioned.
Photo Ops and the 100:1 Ratio
For every one apparent “good act” a union does for its Public Relations Department to get media exposure, there are hundreds other anti-worker tactics it advocates behind closed doors. That would be the equivalent to have a thief in your house that for every 100 objects he steals behind your back, he makes you a gift with great fanfare.
We all saw and heard in recent news how Quebec workers in the construction field were treated recently. Quebecois and Canadians in general simply don’t deserve nor need such treatment. Labour Unions clearly have forgotten to represent workers and started going against them.
Unions are a nuisance to our society
Either Canadian Labour Unions should stop lobbying for anti-worker legislation and start to represent workers and advocate for their rights, or we should question ourselves if the Labour Unions do have a place into our society.
In the state of which the unions and their delegates go about doing their daily business routine, they do not only sabotage Canadian Justice and are an embarrassment to the very fundamentals of the Socialist and Democratic principles, but also a nuisance to workers, to employers, to the economy and to our society as a whole.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Stay tuned as future articles will deal with possible solutions to this social problem that unionized workers have been facing for several years.