CUPE Local 1356 Blog

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1356. We have three Collective Agreements as Local 1356, 1356-01, and 1356-02. The membership is comprised of the full-time and part-time workers of York University the Local website is at This Blog will include Local information and information garnered from sources other Universities, Colleges, Post Secondary/Tertiary Education and news sources supplying information.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Union-bashing columnist tries to have it both ways, says prof

In Terence Corcoran’s world, Wal-Mart, a company racking in billions of dollars annually in profits, is a hero for convincing a Quebec arbitrator to allow it to keep its employees’ wages at slightly above minimum wage, wrote David Doorey, professor in the Master of Human Resources Management Program in York’s Atkinson School of Administrative Studies, in the National Post April 15. The villain in his story is the United Food and Commercial Workers Union for obtaining “only” a 30-cents-per-hour raise.

But Corcoran would have us believe that it is the bully union that should be chastised, and not Wal-Mart. Why? Because the union promised the employees more than it actually was able to obtain from the arbitrator, for one thing. And for another, it was certified on the basis that a majority of the Wal-Mart employees signed a card saying they wanted the union to represent them, rather than by winning a vote.
In fact, the model worked as it should, wrote Doorey. It gave the workers an opportunity to see what a union could do for them. If a majority of employees are unhappy with what the union won in the first agreement, they can show the union the door and return to the non-union model that has served Wal-Mart employees so well in the past.

Unions rarely make huge strides in first contracts. Improvements come incrementally, round by round. In this case, the union not only won a modest raise, it won a grievance procedure that will allow employees to challenge management decisions they perceive to be arbitrary or based on favouritism. So, it’s unfair to suggest that the union achieved nothing here.

Of course, Corcoran has argued in his column before that unions that win “good” settlements for their members are to blame for the crumbling of the economy, the failures of government and various other ills. Now he’s chastising a union for bargaining a "bad” settlement for its members.

That’s the great thing about ideologues, said Doorey. They can take any facts and make them fit their world view.

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