Why are union leaders panicking over Hudak?

Jim Slotek, Local 87-M executive speaks to union members about breaking their policy against political endorsement.
Jim Slotek, Local 87-M executive speaks to union members about breaking their policy against political endorsement.

Union leaders are rallying each other – not so much their membership,
One reason may be that Conservative parties at the provincial and federal level support changes to labour laws that would weaken the power of union leaders.  Currently, Canada is the only western democracy where paying union dues can legally be a mandatory condition of employment and where unions can use funds from mandatory dues for political activism.  In most western democracies, members cannot be compelled to join/pay union dues as a condition of employment and/or their dues cannot be used for political purposes without their consent.

Changing Canadian law to give workers a choice in joining a union and/or paying dues would strengthen the rights of workers.  But, it may mean fewer union members and less revenue from dues.

Certainly, many journalists I know might opt out of a union they feel doesn’t represent their interests.  When Unifor Local 87-M’s executives took a public position against one political party in the current Ontario provincial election, without even consulting its own members, it merely proved this point true.

Less revenue from union dues means smaller union budgets and, possibly, lower salaries for well-paid union executives.

If the law was changed to require member consent to the use of dues revenues for political activism, the rights of workers would again be strengthened.  For the first time ever, members would have a choice.  Of course, some members may opt out of funding the union’s political activity.  That would leave union leaders with fewer dollars to spend supporting political friends or attacking political foes.  It may balance the playing field a little, but a balanced playing field may not be what union leaders want.

The changes in law would be good for workers.  Union leaders may have to focus a little more on providing members with value for their money.  But, that can only be a good thing for everyone.