An Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) report on American-style, anti-worker laws demonstrates the devastating impact such legislation would have on the Ontario economy and reveals the hidden agenda of a possible Tim Hudak Conservative government in this province, the Fraser Institute and other proponents of a U.S.-style attack on labour rights in Canada.
“We are releasing our report today to coincide with a Fraser Institute report that calls for limiting workers’ rights and weakening union protection,” said OFL President Sid Ryan. “The arguments against labour unions and workers’ rights are ideological, not empirical. American evidence proves that reducing union representation does not lead to a stronger economy. In fact, in the decade following the passage of laws that undermined union representation, 50,000 manufacturing jobs were shed in Oklahoma and over one third were lost in North Carolina.”
The OFL report, called “Working for Less: The Coming Threat to Union Security in Ontario,” was produced in February as part of a worker education program but is being released publicly today to sound the alarm about the dangers that will befall the Canadian economy and working families if the American model is adopted. The report shows that laws outlawing mandatory union dues and membership, which have been dubiously dubbed “right-to-work” laws in the U.S. and “worker choice reforms” by their corporate Canadian champions, fail to deliver on their promise of job creation or economic growth, while leaving all workers and their families with lower wages, fewer benefits, and more dangerous workplaces. Download the full report and detailed factsheets at: http://ofl.ca/index.php/campaigns/workersrights/.
“Unions aren’t just good for workers, they are an economic driver. Across Canada, union membership delivers an average wage increase of $5.11 more an hour, while in Ontario, the union advantage is $6.19 more an hour. Unions have created Canada’s middle class and they bring economic stability for everyone,” said Ryan. “This is the conclusion of the World Bank, which found that by every meaningful economic indicator, countries with higher rates of unionization have lower unemployment and inflation, higher productivity and speedier adjustments to economic shocks.”
The OFL report goes on to warn of the economic ramifications of anti-union laws that are designed to drive down wages and severely limit the democratic rights of workers. It highlights a University of Notre Dame study that found that in 18 of 22 ‘right-to-work’ states in the U.S. wages were below the national median, and studies from Princeton and the University of Nevada that show wages plummeted in Idaho and Oklahoma, respectively, after the introduction of ‘right to work’ laws. The impact of such laws could be even greater in Canada because higher wages leave more room to fall.
“When Tim Hudak or the Fraser Institute hold up the relocation of London’s Caterpillar plant to Muncie, Indiana as evidence that good wages are a barrier to good business, they are really telling the families of Canadian workers that they deserve to live on less while corporations scour the globe for the greatest profits,” said Ryan. “Anti-worker laws don’t create jobs, they simply force workers to work for less in order to compete with their counterparts across borders and state lines. It sets off a race to the bottom that is driven by corporate greed and can only be kept in check by strong opposition from workers themselves. Unions provide that crucial counter-balance.”
“If the corporate and conservative backers of the Fraser Institute truly had the welfare of all Canadians in mind, they would recognize that strong unions raise the bar – for all workers – on wages, benefits and working conditions, and that families with decent livelihoods have more money to spend on services and small businesses that help the economy thrive,” said Ryan. “Unfortunately, Canada’s economic welfare isn’t the Fraser Institute’s priority, corporate profit is.”
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour.