Throughout the United States and Canada, labour unions of all sorts have been given too much power, and it is beginning to become a detriment to today’s economy. During their initial formation, they were a necessity, as workers were consistently being mistreated and overworked. However, in today’s society, it would seem that unions have gained too much power in certain areas, actually stunting innovation in the workplace, reducing company efficiency, and keeping a large number of people out of a job.
Two main examples come to mind when discussing this very current and relevant issue. First, while I was beginning my initial research, I found several articles about Hostess, and their inability to keep up with Union demands. A Fox News article states that “a small union representing bakery workers refused to agree to concession, prompting the mass layoff [of over 18,500 people] and closing down of hundreds of plants, bakeries and delivery routes.” I found this deeply disturbing, especially during the United States current economic crisis. My second example is actually routed in my hometown of Toronto, Ontario, where there is currently teacher strike. The current protest is in response to a new contract for Ontario’s public school teachers. The new contract will effectively freeze wages for most teachers, reduce their number of sick days, and limit the unclaimed sick days teachers can cash out when they retire. While this may seem harsh at first, it is important to note that on average, a public teachers annual salary is $72,000, every teacher is entitled to an entire year of maternity leave, and the ‘Putting Students First Act’ is in response the government’s desire to pay back its $14 billion deficit. This is also not the first strike that Ontario teachers have been a part of in the past decade. Moreover, in this particular case, the teachers were also a part of ‘illegal striking’ in the province of Ontario, and their strike “close[d] schools for more than 400,000 students in the province’s public English-language high schools” (Rushowy and Benzie 2013).
There are, of course, more to both of these stories, but the increasing number of Unions that have gone on strike and, in some cases, the absurd Union demands accompanying these strikes, seems like a very interesting place to start my research for my White paper. In this paper, I will first look at examples of Union formation, and examine their growth and evolving power structure over time. By looking at this power structure, and seeing how it is currently affecting both the United States and Canada’s economy, I will be able to analyse how the government’s attitudes towards Unions must change. There is also precedent for radical moves in the past with Ronald Regan firing all of the air traffic controllers because they grew too powerful. The reactions and effects of Regan’s decision will help me to analyse the current situation, and hopefully make suggestions that will both keep workers safe without hurting the United States and Canada’s economy.
“Hostess to Close, Lay off 18,500 after ‘crippling’ Union Fight.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 16 Nov. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2013.
News, CBC. “Ontario Imposes Contracts on Public School Teachers.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 03 Jan. 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2013.
Rushowy, Kristin, and Robert Benzie. “Ntario Teacher Protests: High School and Elementary Teachers Plan One Day ‘illegal’ Strikes.” Thestar.com. Toronto Star, 10 Jan. 2013. Web. Mar.-Apr. 2013.
“Teacher Salaries in Toronto, ON Area.” Glassdoor. N.p., 9 Mar. 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2013.