The following article, written by CCU President John Hanrahan, was featured in the June 2015 edition of Media Planet, situated on page 7 across from an interview with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.
By CCU President John Hanrahan
Unions and the collective bargaining they engage in on behalf of their membership are essential components to real and sustainable economic growth in Canada from coast to coast. Union members on average earn 29% more than their non-union counterparts, and are far more likely to enjoy medical and pension benefits. Collective bargaining puts more money in the hands of working people, creates demand in the economy and increases living standards.
Canadians are quickly realizing that income inequality is the single largest economic problem facing our country. Tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, deregulation, unbalanced trade agreements and the privatization of government services have been shrinking wages and increasing corporate profits for years. The wealth and income share of the richest Canadians has been steadily increasing while the middle class shrinks and workers in the bottom 50% of the income scale are completely left behind.
In a recent study, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cites a decrease in collective bargaining and union membership as one of the primary reasons for increasing income inequality in G8 countries. Even the ultra conservative IMF agrees that unions promote equality and are vital to a healthy middle class in the modern world economy.
Why then have Stephen Harper and the Conservative government consistently passed laws to roll back labour standards and undermine collective bargaining? The answer is simple. The middle class and hard working Canadian families are not and have never been a priority for the Conservative government. Its priority is and has always been tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, and lowering labour standards to benefit the richest in our society at the expense of Canadian workers.
Almost three quarters of the jobs created in the last six years have been part time, precarious-casual work or in the self employed sector. What happened to Canadians being able to have the expectation of working in a decent paying, full-time job that allows them to make ends meet and support their families? Why do we have a job creation policy that does nothing to create the good jobs that we and our children want and deserve?
The Confederation of Canadian Unions (CCU) is the largest association of independent unions in the country. The CCU believes that Canada needs to strengthen labour standards and increase collective bargaining coverage throughout its economy.
We need unions to support, maintain, and grow a healthy middle class. We need unions to increase wages and make good jobs and decent work available to everyone. We need unions to strengthen demand and grow our economy in a way that benefits everyone, not just the wealthy. We need unions so money stays with our families and communities instead of being funneled into the bank accounts of corporations.
The CCU believes it’s time for Canadians to demand change. It’s time for us to elect a government that puts the rights of working families first, creates good jobs and develops a fair economy that works for everyone.