Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stop York back-to-work legislation!

If the Ontario government legislates York University employees back to work, it will legitimize refusing to bargain as a strategy for use by employers.

If the Liberals intend to do anything other than undermine the rights of workers, they need to put some sort of "poison pill" into back-to-work legislation to deter employers from letting their labour disputes go on so long. Unless back to work legislation is as distasteful to the employer as it is to the employees, then employers will simply sit on their hands and refuse to bargain in good faith, confident that the Liberals will eventually trample the rights of their employees.

Back to work legislation needs to impose financial penalties on the employer and it's so-called negotiating team. There need to be substantial penalties for employers who refuse to bargain in good faith, as York clearly has. Any such legislation for York should mandate a refund of tuition for classes which were cancelled due to York's negotiating team refusing to come to terms with employees. Further, there need to be financial penalties for the university (or at the very least, when workers are legislated back to work, then there should be a directive that an eventual arbitrated settlement will clearly be in the employees' favour). If back-to-work legislation poses no downside for an employer, then there's absolutely no incentive to bargain in good faith.

Back-to-work legislation may seem to be in the best interests of York students, but it's not. It simply sets the stage for those students to graduate into the workforce with their rights diminished, which is ultimately going to be far more detrimental to their lives than missing a couple terms of school.

What can you do? Send letters to Premier McGuinty, your local MPP, to the Minister of Labour (Peter Fonseca, and the Minister of Colleges, Training, and Universities (John Milloy You can also send letters to NDP MPPs congratulating them on standing up for workers rights by opposing back-to-work legislation, and encouraging them to continue to do so.

CUPE has a MPP lookup tool at which also opens up a nice form letter you can send to your local MPP.

Addendum:  Well, the Liberals pushed through the legislation.  I think that the Ontario NDP nicely summed up the ramifications of it here.

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