Tuesday, May 20, 2008

CHER’S SONG LIVES IN Canadian Union of Public Employees ( C.U.P.E )

When the big "government unions become the abuser."

You remember Cher. She survived Sonny and his eventual death. Her song, “If I Could Turn Back Time” was, somehow, an acknowledgement of the negative realities that influence our lives and over which we have little or no control, lately.

In the dark days before the Depression in the “Dirty Thirties”, there was a definite place for unionization in all sectors of the work force. Something had to be done to curb the use and abuse of workers by those employers who took every opportunity to exploit, and profit from the sweat of the people who dug the coal, lifted the freight, made the steel and contributed to the growth of wealth in this country.

In those days, too, when an injured worker suddenly became a burden … and no longer useful to the employer who had exploited their efforts, they were simply relegated to the scrap heap, like so much useless slag.

In Nova Scotia, the owners of coal mines and the steel foundries were just as good at wringing every last dollar’s worth of productivity out of a worker as the rich industrialists in the U.S. and the U.K. There were riots in Cape Breton in the 30s … where workers who had decided they had had enough, rebelled and fought back, as they attempted to unionize. Some paid the ultimate price for their convictions and died in their struggle.

Miners and steelworkers in Cape Breton, before unions, were indentured to their employers … who owned the homes they lived in and provided the groceries their families purchased on credit from the “company store”.

A miner who was severely injured or killed, and, consequently couldn’t work, not only had his life ruined but that of his family as well. It was not inconceivable for a miner’s family to be without income, food or a roof over their head.

Something had to be done to improve the conditions of working people, everywhere.

Some sort of real power was needed to fight back and bring errant employers to heel.

In those days, the answer was the UNION. “All for one and … one for all.” Everyone paid “union dues” into the strike fund pot … so members would have the bare necessities of life if they had to go out on strike while negotiating with those errant employers.

Unions were driven by a sense of fairness and humanity, then.

Fast forward to the 50s when the high ideals of unions everywhere became watered down and, in some instances, corrupted by organized crime and the smell of money. Money and power have always gone hand in hand … and there was money to be made through the union vehicle.

Things started to change for all workers in general as they were exploited by other, newer players, as well.

Injured workers, in particular, were confronted with their own set of circumstances when their abuse came, not from the employers, like in the old days, but from organizations like the WCB, governments, and, surprisingly, UNIONS.

Those same unions that had once been the saviour to working men and women everywhere, had now become a very large part of the problem. For injured workers, especially, the unions themselves have done much to wind the clock backwards to those days, before the Depression, when a man who couldn’t work ran the risk of losing everything.


How is it that injured workers should lose the solidarity of their union brothers and sisters when they become injured and are abused by the aforementioned WCB?

It’s the MONEY, stupid!

Quite simply, the story here exemplifies the fundamental switch, that has taken place on the part of the unions, to “forget”, if not totally disavow the plight of injured workers who formerly paid their “dues” and, sometimes, were pushed into union membership as a condition of employment.

Based on this story, it should become readily apparent to anyone with a functioning brain, that there is an obvious conflict of interest going on here that no one is prepared to address … and has relegated unions to nothing more than another means to providing higher salaries to the union leaders and organizers than those earned by workers who are required to support them.

Unions have awarded themselves a “licence to print money” destined to pay union leaders who are prepared to let their injured workers twist in the wind … thus exacerbating the plight of injured workers who must try to deal with those UNIONIZED WORKERS who work for the WCB as well as those of the provincial government who are covered under separate contracts as members of the NSGEU.

Injured workers have been sold out by their former unions who are reluctant to question or buck the actions of other union members who work for the WCB and Nova Scotia government.

Injured workers couldn’t win if they tried … with that kind of a deck stacked against them.

Unions, long ago, apparently decided to sell their souls … at the expense of injured workers who were lead to believe they could rely on them (the unions) in a time of need.

After all, they had been good union members, prior to their injuries, and
faithfully paid their union dues … so, why are they abandoned by their unions when they can’t work because of injury?

It’s the MONEY, stupid! Injured workers don’t get paid for being out of work.

They don’t pay union dues, either.

Do you think that this could be the cause for apathy on the part of the unions toward injured workers?

Union membership no longer control their unions. They are now controlled and directed by big law firms employed by union leaders. Again, there is a parallel between power being concentrated in a few hands at the top in the unions, just like the electorate is losing ground in exercising control over their governments. Does anyone remember Buzz Hargrove placing a CAW leather jacket on the back of Paul Martin during his election campaign that failed to return his government?

Union “solidarity” ends around the same time as the injured worker’s last pay cheque.

Once again, we have another example of a “protection racket” gone awry … it only exists as long as there is money to be made.

Unions, today, have become very political … in the worst sense of that word … and reflect the lack of moral and ethical character of their leaders and organizers who pay themselves very well … while not performing up to the standards they established back in the 30s. There is a parallel that can be drawn between unions and political parties today. Both are under the scrutiny of an increasingly jaded public who doesn’t like what it sees.

Like politicians and political parties, unions talk a good game but no longer have any will, or perhaps, the ability, to do the job they signed on to do.

Please read CUPE News Release below:

Contributed by:
Wayne Coady
Spokesperson :Injured and Abused Workers Coalition