Giving Back Control of Unions to Employes
Because we care so much about liberty, we favour the possibility for employees to form an employee association. Being represented by a union is very legitimate to the extent it is the result of a voluntary contractual relationship between employees.
Over the years, the individual right of employees to form an association has become a collective right that now restricts individual rights. The right not to associate is no longer recognized. In addition, unions have lost sight of their core mission which is to represent their members in the negotiation of the work conditions. Unionized employees have lost control of their unions and it is time to give it back to them.
The Right to Work
“Closed Shop” provisions force employers to hire employees who are members of a union at the time of hiring. It thereby undermines the freedom of those who do not wish to be part of a union.
A Conservative Government will amend the Labour Code to make this clause illegal.
Union Transparency and Financial Disclosure
A Conservative Government will protect the freedoms of unionized employees and their right of association by imposing the obligation of annual financial disclosure on Quebec unions.
This measure of transparency and public accountability will also restore confidence in Quebec’s union apparatus in favour of unionized Quebec employees.
We will also demand that all union members or all people solicited to become union members have simple and anonymous access (i.e. Ministry of Labour’s website) to the documents filed in connection with the application for certification by both the union and the employer, to the certification certificate and to the union’s constitution and by-laws, as well as those of the union federation to which it is affiliated.
This will allow members and prospective members to know what their financial obligations are (or will be), what rules members are expected to follow and what the political and organizational goals of the union are.
Free Choice in the Use of Union Dues
The Rand formula forces employees to pay dues. This fact is justified because all unionized employees, union members or not, benefit from the union’s negotiation of the collective agreement.
Unionized workers forced to pay union dues, however, should have the right to demand that their dues not be used to finance activities other than direct representation related to union negotiations and the administration of their collective agreement. It is interesting to note that the CNTU has already taken a step in this direction by instituting in its charter that union dues cannot be used to support a political party.
A Conservative Government will protect the rights and freedoms of unionized members by limiting their obligation to pay union dues to that portion only that is used exclusively for the negotiation and the administration of labour conditions.
Thus, union campaigns based on political or ideological grounds will now be funded by voluntary contributions from union members rather than being covered by the Rand formula.
A Secret Ballot for Union Certification and to Maintain It
A union may file an application for certification with the Commission des relations du travail without holding a secret ballot if more than 50% of employees have signed a membership card. Since Saskatchewan adopted the systematic use of secret ballots in 2007, Quebec remains one in a minority of provinces to still allow this practice.
We are naturally in favour of the right of association. This fundamental right is protected under the Canadian Constitution and the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, only a secret ballot, administered by an independent ballot, will allow employees to freely and democratically express their fundamental right to associate with a union, or not.
Moreover, the provisions of the Labour Code dealing with the right granted to unionized employees, during the so-called period of « raiding », to decertify are not well understood. If union members were informed of this right at the appropriate time, they would be given the freedom to exercise their choice. If a significant number so desired, a vote on decertification would be required.
A Conservative Government will protect the rights and freedoms of workers by amending the Labour Code:
To require a secret ballot for any application for certification, even when the number of signed cards exceeds half of the membership;
To require a secret ballot on whether or not to maintain the certification, within each of the periods provided in the accreditation certificate.
Strike Votes and Ratification Votes
The Labour Code is silent on the obligation to hold a strike vote or a vote on the ratification of the collective agreement.
A Conservative Government will add a provision in the Labour Code for a secret ballot fifteen days prior to the beginning of a strike and for a secret ballot to ratify a collective agreement. All employees included in the bargaining unit will have a right to vote. The strike vote will need to be renewed every thirty (30) days.
Reducing Construction Costs
The construction sector represents about 15% of Quebec’s GDP. Not less than twenty-six construction trades (with mandatory certification and unionization) are described, accredited and regulated by the Commission de la construction du Québec.
The number and categories of trades and the regulations that oversee their activities have the effect of increasing the labour shortage of skilled workers (since most tradesmen have only one trade) and impeding productivity. Tradesmen must hold many work certificates to be able to accomplish relatively simple or similar tasks to those they have already been trained for (a plumber that cannot plug an electric cord, an electrician cannot move a ladder or a piece of furniture, a carpenter cannot pour a small quantity of cement, etc.).
This lack of flexibility forces general contractors to hire a multitude of specialised trade workers who exercise only one trade and/or many sub-contractors companies who will be limited to working only on a small portion of a specific construction project. Construction projects or sites become much more cumbersome and difficult to manage for employers.
A Conservative Government will end this segregation between Quebec tradesmen in the construction industry.
The number of trades with mandatory certification recognized by law will be reduced and others will be regrouped to allow for greater trade flexibility and versatility.
A Conservative Government will align Quebec rules with the standards in Ontario (which has six trades).
This reform will increase the productivity of the construction by $600 million a year for the benefit of the Quebec economy.
Hiring Replacement Workers
Quebec and British Columbia are the only two jurisdictions in North America that do not allow the hiring of replacement workers. To prevent a citizen access to employment when he is willing to accept the wage and working conditions offered by an employer undermines his right and his individual freedom to work.
A Conservative Government will amend the Labour Code accordingly.
Government Services are Essential Services
A Conservative Government will declare that government services, when they are provided exclusively by the public sector, are essential services for the population.
The right to strike of public employees who provide these services will be removed. Why? A strike in the public sector monopoly has negative consequences for the entire population. Not only does it deprive citizens of its essential services, but it is the whole population who, through additional taxation, will pay for the eventual outcome. For their part, the strikers are unlikely to put their employer in any financial difficulties since their strike reduces its spending. This will also apply to the part of the public sector that provides commercial services such as the production of electricity or the sale of alcohol, if the province has a monopoly of this service.
In contrast, in the private sector, the shareholders and the strikers take significant risks. The first, by having their company’s competitiveness weakened through the strike and the latter because the strike endangers their long-term job security. These two opposing forces are thus brought together to quickly force an acceptable compromise. This balance of power is not available in the public sector.
Strikes in the public sector often have adverse effects on the poor, since they cannot afford the existing available alternatives in the private sector. For example, the harm of transit strike is felt more greatly by the poor who rely on public transportation to commute than wealthier citizens who own their own cars. A minimum wage worker can lose half a day’s salary if he needs to take a taxi during a transit strike. This same worker may lose his entire days wage if he cannot find someone to watch their children if there is a CPE strike.
Tax Deductions of Union Dues Used for Political Purposes
Quebec’s tax legislation does not provide tax credits or tax deductions to any taxpayer who contributes to a political party. These donations are limited to $100 annually. There is no reason why unions who devote enormous resources to political activities would collect these resources with the support of the Quebec Ministry of Revenue.
A Conservative Government will abolish the tax deduction for the portion of dues used for purposes other than union representation.
The Abolition of the Act respecting collective agreement decrees
The Act respecting collective agreement decrees forces workers to form and join unions, and removes the option to de-unionize.
A Conservative government will abolish the collective agreement decrees Act.
The Abolition of the Tax Dedicated to Training the Workforce
The Quebec government is paternalistic towards business by levying a 1% of a company’s payroll if it cannot prove that it has spent at least that amount towards training its workforce. In a market economy such as Quebec, employers should determine the resources allocated towards training their staff, as they do for all their other production costs. If their workforce is not sufficiently trained, they will suffer the consequences through a loss of customers or by not remaining competitive. The government does not need to intervene.
A Conservative government will abolish the tax dedicated to the training of the workforce at day 1.