Canada saw its first strike in 1872 with Toronto printers fighting for a nine-hour day. This was considered illegal finding labour leaders arrested, but after mass protests not only were all charges dropped but union activity was given a legitimate acceptance and legalized. Workers found their champion and employers a formidable foe. Winnipeg of 1919 saw the first General Strike involving over 25,000 workers and a reaction by government with strike breakers, police and army to force an end to it. Our early association with the British Union Movement was gradually replaced with closer ties to our neighbours the Americans.
In 1937 collective bargaining was recognized and a ruling by Justice Ivan Rand made it mandatory for all workers to pay union dues whether or not they wanted to join a union ensured that union leaders were now slowly moving into a new direction. This decision was motivated by the accepted fact that everyone benefited from a union-negotiated contract, so everyone had to pay for it.
Early labour leaders had stood up for workers for one major reason, to fight for fairness for all workers. True there were those with political ideologies that found a soul mate in the union movement such as socialists and communists. Now union leaders find themselves in extremely well paid positions that do not suffer even during strikes. Some union leaders earn salaries in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, even rivalling some CEO's of major corporations. It would seem that the equality between union member and union leader has faded. Strikes depending on their duration bring pressures on those walking the picket lines, as no work equals no pay. Financial obligations and family considerations weigh a heavy burden, yet the union leaders see no such equation targeted at them.
New technology brought about new pressures on the workforce. Automation in manufacturing saw the loss of jobs on assembly lines and a chance for unions to flex their mighty muscles. The results were not beneficial and in a response brought new action by governments. Prime Minister Trudeau introduced mandatory price and wage controls in 1975 and British P.M. Thatcher went head to head with one of the strongest British unions. Thatcher won in the end, and the union movement arguably had lost some of its mystic.
Today with legislation in place to protect workers, unions have a harder time to convince all of their necessity. More and more manufacturing is being shifted to South America and in particular China. Cheap labour costs are more important to business over using unionized local labour. Politics has made a greater in-road to the union movement. True the New Democratic Party which started life in 1932 as the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation has had only moderate success, still the NDP's union alliance remains as its foundation. Large unions such as the CAW and CUPE have a great deal of money to invest, after all they have to pay senior union leaders six figure salaries and some at the top even more. One such example in British Columbia is of the Working Enterprises, a family of companies affiliated with the British Columbia of Federation of Labour and their two thirds ownership of an on-line news service The Tyee. Whatever the size of a union or its membership, can any union be allowed to threaten an elected government or an elected member of government?
In the Niagara Region an elected regional councillor was alerted by members of the public of a situation that should require investigation and the councillor did just that, the results were astonishing. The situation was simple, members of the public had seen on a number of occasions regional employees take extra long coffee breaks at a McDonalds. These members of the public took their concerns to their elected representative, who in turn questioned how this could be possible. After all these individuals are paid with public money and in effect were cheating on the public purse. In the private sector such action would be warned against once and then if it continued the consequences may be harsh. Yet here as these employees were members of CUPE, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the leaders of CUPE Local 1287 sent a letter of threat to the regional government.
Leaders of CUPE Local 1287 in fact threatened the regional government to take any action necessary to stop what they called harassment of their members, in reality to shut down an elected councillor who raised questions as to abuse of the public purse. Shawn Wilson as President of CUPE Local 1287 did not investigate the matter, nor did he or anyone form CUPE have the courage to call members of the public liars, instead they issued an ultimatum and threat.
This was not an issue of wages or harsh working conditions, where a union is needed to protect its members. Rather it was an issue of union members caught abusing the public purse they are paid with. How does a union find the arrogance to threaten an elected member of government to stop raising questions regarding information brought to him by members of the public?
A letter sent to the councillor by the Region's CAO has this to say, “I've also received correspondence from CUPE 1287 leaders who have demanded that we take whatever action necessary to ensure that inappropriate behaviour towards their members ceases immediately.” CUPE 1287 leaders, and Shawn Wilson who is the President of CUPE 1287, had demanded, though they had not investigated the allegations by the public. No comment has been forthcoming on this from CUPE senior management.
Shawn Wilson has been president of CUPE 1287 now for some four years and active in his Local for over ten years. Shawn Wilson is also an elected councillor for the City of Thorold. Now that's an eyebrow lifter. Here we have a president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees who in effect is also an elected representative of the body who employs CUPE members, his own Local's members. If this does not have the stench of conflict of interest than what could. This has been taken from cupe.on.ca/history: “Our members have campaigned during municipal and school board elections for candidates taking progressive positions, traditionally supported the NDP federally and provincially.”
How can it be that the union president, of the union that supplies all the employees to the municipality, is also the one who in effect is the employer of those union members. In addition to this Shawn Wilson as the President of CUPE 1287 had to of been, one would think, the signature on the “correspondence from CUPE 1287 leaders who have demanded...” A municipality employs CUPE members, it does not have CAW nor the printers union or any other union members. The president of the union that supplies all the employees cannot sit on council that makes decisions that may affect those union members. It is a conflict of interest and cannot be permitted, nor would it anywhere else.
CUPE was formed in 1963 by merging the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) and the National Union of Public Service Employees (NUPSE) forming what is Canada's largest union representing over 615,000 members. It has a decentralized structure in which each Local elects its own executive, sets its own dues, conducts its own bargaining and strike votes. So is Shawn Wilson then part of the new strategy, to infiltrate the employer base for its own union members? This may sound wild but the sheer enormity of the question regarding the impropriety of conflict of interest remains unanswered, in light of the threat sent to a regional councillor elected by the people only adds a more serious twist to the whole mess.
Still there will be those who will sing the praises of CUPE and unions in general, considering its blasphemy to raise such questions. But what happens when a union member uses his powers of authority to threaten and harass a member of the public? Should the union leaders investigate the issue, in particular when hard evidence is provided? Or should a union act like nothing more than a thug and issue threats?
A building inspector for the City of St. Catharines had issued an 'unsafe house order' without an inspection. Mind you this is a building inspector who did not inspect and when asked to inspect refused to do so and was recorded. The title of his position of building inspector brings forth the expectation that he would inspect buildings before making any decisions. This building inspector is also a member of CUPE as all employees for a municipality are. After all it is the Canadian Union of Public Employees and a building inspector is a public employee employed by a municipality paid with public money. All of these points are facts, no possible denial and all documented.
Shawn Wilson as President of CUPE 1287 was sent all the details on February 2nd 2012, not a word of reply has been received from him. Not surprising after examining the potential conflict of interest against Shawn Wilson. Yet no one else has bothered to respond from the Local either. In light of the information regarding CUPE's decentralized form of governance somewhat surprising. So all the details were sent to the CUPE National's President Fred Hahn.
A letter was sent dated February 21st 2012 to Mr. Hahn providing all the details and it included a copy of the voice recording of the building inspector. This letter was sent out in clear English, the language of the Realm and impossible to misconstrue, the facts set out. A response came from President Fred Hahn dated February 27th 2012. In this response Hahn states, “CUPE National works directly to address the types of issues you have raised in your correspondence, so I have forwarded your correspondence to Brian Atkinson National's Ontario Regional Director. I am sure that you will be hearing from him at his earliest opportunity.”
That of course did not happen, I did not hear from Atkinson and made several attempts to call Hahn's assistant Stephanie Malinsky. Finally on March 28th I wrote again to Fred Hahn, his response dated April 4th 2012 was incredible. CUPE President Fred Hahn provided statements that were proof of intentional lies or that he truly has serious problems with comprehending the English language. True Hahn has a university degree from the University of Toronto and
his work in social services would require a degree of listening skills. His response of April 4th then is indeed one that proves the opposite.
My response to Hahn dated April 11th naturally has not brought any further letters in reply, that is not surprising.
Hahn in fact makes it clear he lied that Atkinson would indeed be contacting me. Paragraph one of the April 4th fun-fest as I call it proves that Hahn lied, and they are his own words. Hahn's words were empty, hollow and stupid. He speaks of Shawn Wilson's “dedication to making the lives of the people of Niagara better,” I guess Hahn needs a map of Niagara to look at the picture. The individual who wrote Shawn Wilson who was threatened and harassed by a CUPE member lives in Niagara. That regional councillor who was threatened by Shawn Wilson's CUPE 1287 in their self-inflated arrogance threatened an elected government, it was the Regional Municipality of Niagara that was threatened. Finally those CUPE members who were in fact cheating on the public purse that Shawn Wilson threatened an elected government and elected councillor over, well they were from Niagara. I get it now, that is who Shawn Wilson and CUPE are only dedicated to make the lives better for in Niagara. The hypocrisy and lies in Fred Hahn's letter are astounding.
President of CUPE Fred Hahn obviously knew that Brian Atkinson National's Ontario Regional Director would not have any intention in contacting me, yet he put it in writing and signed it. Then he later states in another letter again signed that the information was passed on to “appropriate people” as “points.” Hahn confirmed now his own intentional lie. In Hahn's biography (cupe.on.ca) it states that he is committed to social unionism, what does that mean? Is it a new term for the new era describing socialism? Does it mean that Hahn stands for the common man, then I would ask what is Hahn's salary in comparison to the common man who pays his dues.
These actions by CUPE, Canada's biggest union, do not stand alone but are a part of an overall question as to what is the true role of unionism today. CUPE has had a member masquerading in a position that gives his ego power to act like a thug and CUPE has shielded and protected him. CUPE itself has acted no less a thug and threatened in arrogance an elected government and elected councillor, not in the protection of members' work conditions or wages, but in an attempt to ensure that no one questions those workers' abuse of the public purse. Is it unfair to raise questions of conflict of interest, hypocrisy and lies under such circumstances with hard evidence to prove the facts raised to be true.
My father came from a country where freedom and workers' rights did not exist and he fully believed in the doctrines the unions pushed. He even believed in the NDP and in particular Bob Rae, now look at him a semi-leader of a party interested in legalizing marijuana. Union leaders sit on massive salaries and have the arrogance to threaten elected members of government to cover-up members' abuse of public money.
Fred Hahn sent a letter that could only be thought of as ludicrous in its content. He proved with his own hand that he lied. Fred Hahn is a President of CUPE! For me to publish a copy of my letter to Hahn of February 28th would only be of greater public embarrassment for Hahn. Still Hahn has it and he knows he lied the only question is why? Shawn Wilson on the other hand, (Il Duce) of CUPE 1287 should be looked at by the Minister for Municipal Affairs. He has serious issues to answer in regards to conflict of interest. Hahn refers to him as a shining light standing for the people of Niagara. But then we now know Hahn is capable of a lie and has proven it himself. It was Shawn Wilson's CUPE Local 1287 that threatened an elected councillor. I guess in Hahn's words that's how Shawn Wilson dedicates his life to make the “lives of the people of Niagara better.” Wilson picks up a pretty salary as the President (Il Duce) of CUPE Local 1287 and public money as a city councillor. I love CUPE's system of presidents everywhere, there are so many that it makes one think of a banana republic. O.K. I know it's called an 'extremely decentralized' structure but when you have so many chiefs how is the pow-wow conducted quietly?
Sarcasm aside it is a question that many of the hard-liners in the union movement or socialists will not like, but what good are unions today. What are their true benefit? A world economy flipping backwards and forwards with recent examples that are not flattering such as the last postal strike or the problems at Caterpillar. After all there are those of us who question the point of the Monarchy in our society, why can't we question unionism.
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