Give Labour Day back to the workers
Robert Fulford, Financial Post Published: Friday, August 29, 2008 Most job-holding Canadians do not belong to unions and express absolutely no wish to join. That's the most striking and (in numerical terms) the most convincing conclusion that emerges from the Nanos Research national survey of 1,000 employees. Behind that single fact we can glimpse a major change in Canadian society, the slow but apparently inevitable death of a once-vibrant force in national life. Unions see themselves as a key to the good life: high incomes, job security, decent pensions, workplace safety. But for some reason this attractive package attracts few buyers. In a service economy unions are now offering a service that relatively few citizens want. The shrinking of union membership, everywhere except in the government sector, has been noticeable for years. Those old enough to remember the powerful and terrifying unions of the mid-20th century have found it astonishing to watch unions lose battle after battle -- especially the battle against foreign manufacturers and their branch plants in Canada and their own struggle for political influence. The impact of the unions has shrunk even within the New Democratic Party, which they helped found. The Nanos survey shows that the downward trend in membership persists. Non-union workers fill about threequarters of the jobs in Canada, an increase of 6% since 2003. Only about a quarter of Canadian employees now belong to unions, a relatively lonely minority. Given this trend, we can easily imagine a time when unionism will retreat to the one place it remains comfortable, government offices, where nervous politicians take great care to protect it. When the pollsters asked non-unionized workers whether they hope to be represented by a union someday, nearly eight out of 10 said "No". They apparently don't listen to, or aren't influenced by, neighbours and friends who belong to unions. Most union members say their...
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