Thompson: When the unions get between us and our booze, it has gone too far
LCBO employees have voted 95 per cent in support of a strike
The Hamilton Spectator
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Forget about the early April winter storm watches of last week. Here is a sure sign that spring and hot weather are on the way: LCBO employees have voted 95 per cent in support of a strike.
The liquor control board workers are looking for higher wages and benefits and improved health care and job security. Who isn’t?
We all want it. How do we get it? Do we all go on strike? Or maybe we could all just learn how to vote during an election.
The big issue here, say union officials, is that 60 per cent of LCBO staff are part time, and therefore paid less than full time while, in some cases, doing the same job. Their contract ended March 31.
The government agency argues it has to keep within the current economic realities and other recent public-sector agreements.
Much like the RBC outsourcing story in which information-technology workers were to be replaced by an offshore company, this is a case of getting the best product for the cheapest price. It’s the same thing we all do at the grocery store every week. But instead of an RBC shareholder, the shareholder is you, the taxpayer.
Some would call that responsible government. Can anyone continue to pay more for the same services they can find cheaper elsewhere? We’re all working more, for less. That’s simply a reality.
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak wants to open up the unions’ monopoly. He knows Ontarians see the value in the LCBO and said, “The government union leadership needs to get a grip on the reality that families are going through in the economy that we face here today.” He also suggested public sector unions have been empowered by the recent success of teachers unions who had their deals renegotiated after Premier Kathleen Wynne took office.
There is no need to union-bash but there may be some truth to that.
I guess in this day of governments preaching austerity and then going back on their word we can only expect others to ask for special treatment, too.
That being said, Wynne has done a great job in making it appear as if everything is fine with teachers unions and you can’t build relationships without first talking. But if, in the end, all she has done is open the flood gates again and fails to get a handle on deals we can’t afford, an election will soon follow.
Oddly enough there are similarities between the teacher-unions and LCBO issues. Ontarians greatly value both but that doesn’t mean they are not tired of being held captive by each.
As I have said and written many times, this is not about this team or that team, and it’s not about union busting.
It’s about giving us, the customer, the best service at the most competitive price in what is now a global market. Just as we can’t bring back outdated jobs that aren’t there or subsidize an industry (ask the horse racing business). The future is investing to create new jobs.
But no worries: It isn’t last call yet for the LCBO, as bargaining is scheduled to continue until mid-May, just in time for the Victoria Day long weekend. If negotiations run dry that could dampen festivities for presummer revelers.
However if all companies (or governments) were more concerned about their employees (or taxpayers) we wouldn’t need unions, although we have all certainly benefitted from them historically.
But I’m tired of being held hostage by unions who have a monopoly on a service at the taxpayers’ expense, whether it’s teaching our kids or allowing me to buy a bottle of booze.
That’s not fair either.
The Scott Thompson Show airs weekdays noon-3 p.m. on News/Talk 900 CHML. www.ScottThompsonTalk.com