May 17, 2010
Conservative MPP Randy Hillier seeks to shake up union legislation
Private bill would place limits on non-bargaining use of dues
Stronger employee rights and more financial transparency from Ontario unions are the primary goals of legislation proposed today by MPP Randy Hillier.
“It is basically dinosaur age stuff now,” said Hillier, member for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington and the Conservative party’s labour critic.
“Every other public entity has to disclose their activities and their financing — why is that unions can continue to operate in this darkness?”
The proposed piece of legislation, expected to be presented today at Queen’s Park, focuses on protecting employees and finding a balance between labour and business, he said.
Hillier, a former electrician, said there is large gap between the stated goals of labour legislation in Ontario and what is actually happening.
He described the current McGuinty government as “cozied up in the bed and under the quilt” with provincial labour unions, adding that the Liberals have forgotten “good public policy.”
“Whenever there has been a change in government we have seen the pendulum swing so much in labour,” said Hillier. “We need to have a balance that respects people’s rights and freedoms, allows for collective opportunities of trade unions but also does not completely abrogate an individual’s freedom in the process.”
The legislation calls for yearly financial disclosure by all unions.
Every trade union that is party to a collective agreement would be required, within 30 days of the end of its fiscal year, to file a statement with the labour minister that sets out the total of all dues payable to it by employees in the bargaining unit to which the collective agreement applies.
Unions would also have to provide a total and breakdown of all expenses over $5,000 incurred during the year.
“I have heard from a significant number of unionized employees that they are dissatisfied with what is being done with their compelled dues,” Hillier said.
The legislation also calls for unions to give workers the ability to say where their compelled dues may or may not be used.
Unions could still use these dues but they would have to obtain a waiver from members to use the money for things other than collective bargaining.
“If someone wishes and freely chooses to have their compelled dues sent and spent in that fashion, then they should have that opportunity and freedom,” said Hillier.
“This bill requires an affirmative consent of the employee to the union for those dues to be used in other manners.”
Hillier said Ontario unions are not being held to account like unions in certain American states and in the United Kingdom.
He finds it disturbing that Ontario does not have disclosure legislation for unions.
“There has been such a growth and unchecked growth of union activity beyond collective bargaining,” he said.
“We see them now involved in the Working Families Coalition and in host of different advocacy groups contributing to political campaigns.”
Critics have charged that the Working Families Coalition, comprised of unions ranging from the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association to the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 793, is a Liberal party attack-dog and its affiliated unions have benefited in provincial funding and decisions for their support.
The coalition has always contended it represents all Ontario families and their concerns and is transparent.
Hillier’s bill would also eliminate card-based certification on the grounds that it creates an imbalance in Ontario’s labour relations landscape.
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