The House resumed at 8:03 p.m.
LABOUR RELATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Elgie moved second reading of Bill 89, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, Bill 89, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act, was given first reading on June 3. Since then, there has been considerable comment on the bill in the media. As a result of the wide public attention it received from the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), the specific issues dealt with in the bill will undoubtedly be familiar to all members of the House.
While it would be inaccurate to claim the bill has met with universal public acclaim, I think it is fair to observe it has received a broad measure of support, both from the labour relations community and from the public at large.
It is particularly important in the area of labour relations that legislative initiatives be accepted, if not embraced with enthusiasm, by those primarily affected by the changes. There are few fields of public law where fairness, equity and balance are more important than in the sensitive area of industrial relations. Labour relations must not only make sense, but must as well be acceptable to employers, trade unions and individual employees if they are to work effectively and contribute to the reduction of unnecessary conflict.
I have been monitoring the responses carefully and I am persuaded that in the main we have achieved in Bill 89 the equity and the balance upon which acceptance depends. The generally positive reception to the bill augurs well for its contribution to the maintenance and promotion of industrial stability in Ontario.
Mr. Nixon: We have been waiting for it for 30 years.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The last time I heard that remark it was the member’s wife who said it to me. She was waiting for him for 30 years.
Mr. Laughren: We are still waiting.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: It is particularly encouraging that few commentators have characterized it as either pro labour or pro management. It is not intended to be partisan legislation. Its fundamental purpose is to remove some troublesome barriers to conflict in the resolutions of labour relations in this province.
Mr. Kerrio: Liberal legislation.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: As the Toronto Star has said, a newspaper that the official opposition will undoubtedly support, the legislation, if enacted, will avert futile contract disputes, reinforce union democracy and compensate unions fairly for the service they render workers. These are precisely my goals which, if achieved, will certainly justify the characterization of the legislation as a landmark labour bill.
Perhaps I might be permitted to spend several minutes in outlining the main provisions of the bill. It provides for the mandatory checkoff of union dues or the equivalent amount thereof as a minimum requirement in collective agreements where a union that has acquired bargaining rights in accordance with the provisions of the act so requests, subject to three qualifications. First, the checkoff becomes effective only where a union requests it in bargaining. Secondly, the checkoff does not apply to agreements in the construction industry where employees work for a number of employers for varying periods of time and where in most cases dues are collected through the union’s hiring hall. Thirdly, the checkoff dues do not apply during the life of collective agreements in force on the date of proclamation, but do apply to all agreements concluded after the coming into force of the act.
The second major amendment permits employers to require the Minister of Labour to direct the supervised vote of employees on the employer’s last offer. Under the bill, such a request by the employer may be made on one occasion only during the course of negotiations, either before or after a strike or lockout commences.
Finally, the bill adds a new provision to the Labour Relations Act, entitling all employees in the bargaining unit to participate in all strike or ratification votes whether or not such employees are members of the particular bargaining agent. The rationale for these amendments is self-evident. However, I will be pleased to deal with the reasons behind each of the individual amendments as the debate proceeds.
By way of introduction, I might make these preliminary observations. As to the checkoff, as members are aware, there is perhaps no single issue that has contributed more to industrial unrest in the organized sector than union security. What is proposed should remove this contentious item from the bargaining table and avoid the protracted, difficult and often ugly disputes that have marked the industrial relations scene in Ontario over the last decade or more.
The amendment providing for the minister’s supervised vote on the employer’s last offer responds to the argument, advanced by some, that strikes sometimes occur because of bargaining agents’ failure or unwillingness to give employees an opportunity to vote on the employer’s most recent offer. My impression is that most bargaining agents already do communicate effectively with members of the bargaining unit. However, the proposed amendment, entitling employers to require the Minister of Labour to direct that a vote be taken, will ensure more widespread use of this desirable practice.
Finally, the statutory right of all employees to participate in strike or ratification votes is a natural concomitant to the mandatory dues checkoff requirement. In other words, entitlement to participate in ratification and strike votes is a logical extension of the obligation upon all employees to pay union dues in return for full and fair union representation.
In summary, each of the proposed amendments addresses a legitimate industrial relations concern. The compulsory dues checkoff responds to unions who contend that all members of the bargaining unit should contribute towards the benefits gained in bargaining. The ministry-directed last offer vote responds to concerns about inadequate communication with the rank and file, which, it is claimed, sometimes results in unnecessary or unnecessarily prolonged strikes. The entitlement to participate in strike and ratification votes is, as I have said, a logical consequence of mandatory dues checkoff.
While the amendments themselves are relatively simple, their potential contribution to the improvement of Ontario’s industrial relations climate cannot be overemphasized. For that reason, it is my hope the bill will receive speedy passage so that it may be proclaimed before the House rises later this month.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, in rising to speak on behalf of my party on this bill, first of all I have to concur with the minister in his basic rationale, which is that this legislation is needed to remove a source of unnecessary conflict in the bargaining process.
I realize we have witnessed a rather new phenomenon in the House in the last few weeks, that is, the Progressive New Democratic coalition. We find our Socialist friends in bed with the Tories, as witnessed right at this very moment with the conversation going on between the minister and members of the third party.
At this time, I would like to ramble for a few moments until I have the minister’s undivided attention. In my view, this piece of legislation demands more than just passing interest on behalf of the minister who is making the motion or the Socialists who are so hot to see it go through without any debate.
Having said that, I would repeat myself and ask the minister if, at some point in the evening, we might have some few moments of his time so we may properly address remarks to him straight on, without any kind of interference or any kind of Socialist coalition influence in this whole debate process.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Van Horne: We realize how envious the members of the third party are of the government and how they desire to be on that side of the House. Having said that, and realizing perhaps I have made my point, I will get back to what I was trying to say in the beginning. I would suggest to the minister that before we were so rudely interrupted by the in-House Progressive New Democratic caucus, I was saying I would agree with his rationale.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: It is called honest cooperation. The member should try it; he would like it.
Mr. Van Horne: I would never stoop that low. As envious as I might be and as ambitious as I might be, I would never prostitute myself into that position as have my friends on the left.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. On to the bill.
Mr. Van Horne: I would like to repeat that I do not quarrel with any form of legislation, Mr. Speaker, that would remove a source of unnecessary conflict in the bargaining process. I think it is fair to say my party has never --
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, a point of privilege, please. I would ask you to tell the member for London North that he is using unparliamentary language and impugning motives to this party that do not belong here. He very definitely used the word “prostitute” as applying to this party. If you let that go through, we are going to have a long and interesting debate this evening.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I do not want to interfere with the process of debate and I gladly withdraw that remark and will not make any further reference to the habits of the New Democratic Party, who apparently are in some kind of concert with our friends opposite.
Mr. Laughren: He should be thrown out. He is a combination clown with the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio). They are a pair. They can both balance balls on the ends of their noses.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The honourable member asked the member to withdraw. He withdrew. Would the member for London North continue on the bill?
Mr. Van Horne: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for bringing back a sense of balance to this debate.
I was about to say that beyond the point that the minister made, we as a party have never spoken out against what is essentially known as the Rand formula. As a matter of fact, many of my colleagues, present and from earlier parliaments, have spoken in support of that particular formula.
I think it is fair to draw to the minister’s attention that whereas there was notoriety that accompanied this bill when it was introduced last week, the notoriety reflected the views of the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party and seemed to ignore almost totally any views that our party may have had, with perhaps the exception of a passing question put to the leader of my party.
We determined in the beginning of this whole political process, back on June 10, 1977, that legislation that was brought to the House should by and large have some kind of caucus treatment before we went running off making statements. That caucus treatment was given due process in our caucus today. I might say this particular bill received a long, thorough, complete discussion. My own particular inclination was that this bill was significant enough, was important enough, that there would be some merit in seeing it being sent to committee and not having it rushed through as is the minister’s particular wont.
It would seem, if I might digress for just a moment, that any legislation or changes that have been brought to us by this particular minister, such as amendments to the Labour Relations Act or the entitlement in workmen’s compensation, have been brought with the threat of being cancelled or withdrawn. They have been brought in at the last minute and, if we do not concur, he will withdraw them or see that the changes are not pursued.
That is the sort of political blackmail I find very difficult to accept in this so-called political process. In my view the democratic process demands, dictates, that there be some kind of debate, not just the five or 10 or 20 minutes that we seem to spend on these matters that are brought to us by this particular minister. It demands a thorough debate that comes about through having proper and complete input.
I think my case is made to a degree if one notes the significant number of people in the labour movement who have expressed some kind of concern about certain aspects of this bill. The bill, which was introduced just one week ago, is here in front of us now with a sort of steamroller or train locomotive kind of propulsion. It was brought to us by this minister, who would see this very important piece of legislation whipped through with virtually no opportunity for those who will be affected to express their views. Nobody can express his views, except for those who are quick enough to catch it in the press, to have a quick meeting, to make a few quick phone calls or even to lobby us on the way to this room tonight. They tried to catch us on the way into this room tonight because it is the only chance they have had for any kind of input.
It is that kind of tactic that makes me wonder how sincere the ministry is, how sincere the government is, in its desire to have this kind of legislation brought in and, beyond that, the rationale for it. What are they trying to do? Are they trying, as the minister said in the beginning, to remove a source of conflict, or is the minister trying to hang an election lollipop out in front of labour to convince labour that the government is a bunch of good guys, supportive of labour, and deserves to have another goodness knows how many more years in government. That kind of, whatever it is called -- tactic is the kindest word I can think of -- that kind of tactic to me detracts from this particular piece of legislation.
Mr. Warner: Why do you hate working people?
Mr. Van Horne: Having said that, and having expressed that view to my colleagues, I consider the proper process should be for this bill to go to committee. I realize there are constraints of time --
Mr. Warner: You are trying to kill the bill.
Mr. Van Horne: -- and I realize those people who should have the opportunity for input will not have it and I feel badly about that. The fact is that this is important enough to proceed with. That has been the determination of our caucus.
There are a couple of points I would like to bring to the minister’s attention, points that may well have been made by labour or management had they had the opportunity. For example, parts one and three of this bill apply to the construction industry but part two does not. We realize the construction industry has some individual characteristics. It is a little different, for example, from the manufacturing industry, but there is some inconsistency in that two parts would apply to the construction industry but another part would not. I am sure the minister in his reply will give us all kinds of good reasons for this, but in my view it is reflective of the type of legislation that has not been thought through totally.
Beyond that, I would point out that in the anxiety reflected by the ministry in bringing this legislation on with a rush, it has given to our party, and perhaps to the New Democratic Party as well, what I would consider -- I am trying to find a word that would be kind enough to the minister, but they have delivered to us an insult which I do not think is deserved.
When legislation is introduced there is supposed to be a compendium of background information provided for the opposition members at the same time that legislation is introduced. I have in front of me background material for Bill 89, the bill we are discussing tonight, which was presented to me at 4:45 this afternoon. It was not presented to us when this legislation was introduced --
Mr. Nixon: Bad administration.
Mr. Van Horne: -- and that is an insult to the process of parliament here in Ontario. I ask the minister, how can he explain that kind of treatment to us as members of this House? In addition, aside from getting it a week late, I would submit to the minister that he may as well take this and roll it into a small ball --
Mr. Nixon: And?
Mr. Van Horne: -- and put it in a waste basket or some other receptacle that would be appropriate, because by and large the information contained in this compendium is virtually useless.
That is something the minister has to accept the responsibility for. If we are dealing with an important piece of legislation, how can he honestly say to us he is taking this matter seriously and wants us to support it when he comes along eight days after the bill is introduced and says, “By the way, here is the compendium of information”?
Coupled with that is another form of insult. Last week after the bill was introduced our research staff called an office in the ministry and we asked for the director of research in the Ministry of Labour, only to find out that at this time there is no such animal. How does he come up with all of these wonderful ideas? I guess we have to look to his deputy dog or a couple of other people in his upper echelon and assume they are the people who feed them to him.
After finding out there is no director of research -- or at least at that point there was not -- we were asking for background information on similar types of legislation in other jurisdictions in North America -- we were put on to another person in the minister’s office who said, “Yes, I understand your question. We will call you right back.” We are still waiting for a call back from the minister’s office.
In this instance, with this legislation which is so important, this minister and the government have treated us as third-class citizens. They want our support for this but we are treated with the indignity that would only be given to an animal of a lower level, and that is not right.
It is alleged that the minister spoke to members of the New Democratic Party and the Ontario Federation of Labour even before he spoke to his own caucus. In his response, would the minister please tell us this is not true, that he did come up with this through the accepted channels and discussed it with his own caucus before he spoke with his friends?
The member for Nickel Belt took umbrage at some of the comments I made earlier about the relativity of those two parties. Let me tell the minister that if that is true we have some kind of peculiar coalition here in Ontario that the people simply do not need. It is a discourtesy and an insult to have treated us the way he has treated us with this form of legislation.
Having said those few kind words to the minister, I will conclude by saying we have an amendment to make to this piece of legislation. We perceive the amendment to be one that cries out to be made, upon closer examination of this bill. We will move, at the appropriate time, that section 34(e) be amended by adding a subsection --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. We are not in committee now.
Mr. Van Horne: I appreciate that. But it is important enough to give an indication of what area of the legislation will be amended and what the design of that amendment is. The purpose of this would be to preclude that sort of situation in which an offer might be made by an employer to a group of employees. Then, having been rejected by the employer and a strike situation having developed, the employer brings in some new employees and asks the minister for a vote to be called on.
Mr. Warner: Scabs. A scab is a scab.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Van Horne: Essentially what we are suggesting is that after the commencement of a strike or lockout only those employees who were employed in the bargaining unit before the commencement of a strike may vote. That is the amendment we would make.
I would like to hear my Socialist friends elaborate on that. If they don’t support that, they are supporting strikebreakers and scabs.
Mr. Warner: You have spent your whole life supporting scabs. You are turkeys with a hernia.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Van Horne: Having obviously succeeded in bringing some kind of reasoning to my friends on the left and having also brought to the attention of the minister what I consider to be pretty shabby treatment of a very important issue, I would like to conclude --
Mr. McClellan: Where was the member during the Fleck strike? Does he remember the scabs then?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Van Horne: -- by suggesting to the ministry that legislation so important as this demands more attention and more complete debate. It demands more thorough examination than, unfortunately, we are being given at this time, In spite of that, it is important enough for us to say we will support it.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, there is probably only one point tonight on which I will agree with the labour critic, if that is what he can be called, for the Liberal Party. That is simply the manner in which this government brings in at the last minute bills that are as important as the checkoff in union security.
We have been faced with at least three or four such bills in this House in the period of time I have been here. I recognize and will even accept that the Minister of Labour may have some problems in his own caucus. But it is a bloody disgrace to this House to present something as important as this issue at the very last minute under conditions in which one takes it or leaves it. This happens to be a major bill. I am totally disgusted at the way in which the Liberal Party has treated it. I don’t intend to pull any punches in terms of what we want, what we hope for and where we stand on this bill. I want it made clear we are not going to go through this kind of wringer another time around on any major piece of labour legislation.
Having said that, I want to make it very clear I appreciate the Liberal labour critic’s referring to the Socialists because, whatever happens in this House, there is no question where I stand as a democratic Socialist. I try to use the positions we take in terms of people and in terms of the trade union movement as the principle I stand by in this House.
I have no difficulty in understanding why the Liberals are so upset with the government treating them as some kind of animal. I think the reference was to a “lower-level animal.” Let me ask the Liberal labour critic, when we are dealing with the kind of ultimatum, if you like, that we have been given on a bill as important as this one --
Mr. Kerrio: You are squirming.
Mr. Mackenzie: No, I am not squirming in the least. I will be a lot more honest than the member for Niagara Falls was any day of the week.
Mr. Nixon: No amendments. The NDP is going to lie low, eh? They are going to go with a secret ballot, are they?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Mackenzie: I have to ask, in trying to decide where we stand, what we might get. Yes, the amendment the Liberal labour critic has said they are going to move is the point with which we have real concern.
Mr. Nixon: The NDP are going to vote for it, and stick with their buddies across the way.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I really enjoy the former leader of the Liberal Party. I didn’t realize until I sat down over a couple of beers with him and sat on a couple of the committees on which we both serve just how much he hated the organized labour movement. It took me a long while to understand why. It is because he blames them for the fact he never became the Premier of the province.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Nixon: On a point of order: I must ask you, Mr. Speaker, to ask the honourable member to withdraw his statement that I hate people in organized labour. For example, I am a very good friend of the honourable member himself and he made most of his money, before he got on easy street here, in the service of organized labour.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, if I may speak to the point of privilege, I think the position of the honourable member has been put very squarely by my honourable colleague. He hates labour. That is well known. He has expressed it on innumerable occasions and we are simply reaffirming that fact this evening.
Mr. Nixon: The only reasonable alternative is to ask the honourable member to withdraw his completely unacceptable statement. I don’t hate anybody, even the honourable member.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Because of all the shouting, I am afraid I did not hear what the member for Oshawa actually said. The honourable member was referring to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. If the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk feels it is unacceptable, I can look that up in Hansard. However, if the member for Oshawa wishes to make any further comments, he may wish to withdraw certain words.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I do hesitate to withdraw the truth from the record, but if it so unsettles the honourable member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk that we have put the truth on the record this evening, I would be happy to withdraw for parliamentary privilege purposes.
Mr. Nixon: It is typical of your principles that you are prepared to withdraw what you consider to be the truth.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Hamilton East.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I really did not want to waste so much time on the former leader of the Liberal Party. I do think it is important, though, in deciding where we stand on an issue as important as union security, to have on the record what we can expect from the party that wants to give us such a hammering on it.
Mr. Nixon: It is the only reasonable amendment.
Mr. Mackenzie: Can I ask the members on my right if they still support the position they have been strongly taking in this House that we should deny teachers the right to strike? Do they have an explanation? Do they have an explanation for the great number of them who voted against my bill for a 40-hour week the first year I was in this House?
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I would like to bring to your attention that the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman) had legislation for a 40-hour week before this House before the honourable member who is at present speaking was even a member.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. MacBeth): It is indeed an interesting point, but hardly a point of order. Does the member for Oshawa have a point of order?
Mr. Nixon: He rides with General Motors.
Mr. Breaugh: Once again, to the point of order: We would like to put on the record that the parliamentary truth of the matter is that the Liberal Party over there hates labour. We would be quite compelled, I suppose, to withdraw that remark according to parliamentary privilege, and we will do so, so long as the record proves exactly where they stand.
The Acting Speaker: I cannot imagine the Liberal Party hating anybody, but at the same time --
Mr. T. P. Reid: Point of order.
The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Hamilton East has the floor. Are you on a point of order?
Mr. T. P. Reid: I am, Mr. Speaker. We are here dealing with one of the most important pieces of legislation that has come down in my 13 years in this House in regard to labour-management relations. I find it most objectionable that our friends on the left, and particularly the last speaker, should have made the comments that have been made in regard to whether the Liberal Party hates or loves labour.
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. The member for Hamilton East is entitled to make remarks of that nature as long as they are not unparliamentary. The Speaker has made his own comment on it, but I agree with you, the House is in a little frivolous mood and it is a serious subject, so I think, noting the comments of the member for Rainy River --
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker --
The Acting Speaker: You don’t have the floor. You have made your point of order.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I have not, Mr. Speaker, because the member for Oshawa has not withdrawn those kinds of remarks. Until he withdraws what I consider to be an imputation about us, that stands on the record. We have a most important piece of legislation that is going to affect a lot of people, some of whom are in the gallery tonight. I am, quite frankly, upset that the matter we are dealing with in this bill should be lost in the kind of pious, sanctimonious --
The Acting Speaker: Your point of order has been made.
Mr. T. P. Reid: All right, but the member has not withdrawn those allegations that stand, Mr. Speaker --
The Acting Speaker: Order, order.
Mr. T. P. Reid: -- either in the words of the member for --
The Acting Speaker: Order, order. Will the member for Rainy River please take his seat? You have made your point of order.
Mr. T. P. Reid: No, I won’t until that member withdraws his remarks.
The Acting Speaker: Whether the remark is asked to be withdrawn or not is a matter for the Speaker. The member for Hamilton East is entitled, I think, to make that remark. I don’t find it unparliamentary. I made my own comment in regard to it. It was made in frivolity, I feel, and certainly I feel the Liberal Party hates no one. I am going to leave it up to the member for Hamilton East to make his own comments. I don’t think it is unparliamentary and I am not going to ask him to withdraw it, but he may decide in his own wisdom to make something of it. The member for Hamilton East has the floor.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, it is precisely because I think this bill is as important in the principle we are trying to establish as it is that I did not interrupt or object once when I listened to some of the inane remarks from the Liberal labour critic. It is because of his remarks, during which I gave him free rein without any interruption on my part, that I think we should put a few things on the record.
I mentioned the teachers’ right to strike and the 40-hour work week. May I talk about passing the picket lines last Monday in Stratford where members of this caucus refused to go through, as did the bus driver, but the leader of the Liberal Party passed that picket line to attend a performance? May I talk about the debate in the estimates on minimum wages where the labour critic of the Liberal Party at that time told me and told the committee that he disagreed with us on the need to increase the minimum wage because small businessmen like himself would go out of business if that happened? Do I need to raise Bill 70 and the Liberal press release that allowed the Tories a loophole they could drive a truck through in terms of exemptions from that legislation?
Mr. Roy: He is out of order.
Mr. Mackenzie: I could mention another case, a bitter debate in this House where this party was the only party to stand and oppose the ordering back to work of the transit workers in Toronto.
Mr. Speaker, I think it should be put clearly on record what labour means to that party. It means damn all. It is important that we put on record the kind of proposition that was put to us. I do not particularly like it but I am also not going to play games with it. There are some answers we want from the Minister of Labour very clearly.
Mr. Bradley: Or what?
Mr. M. Davidson: Just bide your time, boys. Just bide your time.
Mr. Bradley: Is the NDP going to bring them down?
Mr. Mackenzie: The major issue, among many, for the trade union movement for the last couple of years has been to try to establish what they thought they had won back with the Rand formula in 1945, the union security or dues checkoff. I personally, and almost every member of my caucus -- I have not seen very many Liberals or Tories on picket lines -- have all been on the lines in strike after strike across the province. In the bitter ones of late, it has been the management decision that the issue it can sell and that it can oppose the union on is the question of whether the workers have to sign a dues checkoff and whether they have to pay the dues.
Regardless of the fact that the union has the total responsibility of representing those workers and can be hauled over the coals if it does not, and regardless of the fact that somebody who can be the most anti-union s.o.b. on the face of the earth can bid for and get a job over and above a loyal union member, once a local is established the union has to go to bat for a worker if he has not only the seniority but also the experience. Notwithstanding all the representation that has to be given, we have not had the right to the representation and security and dues checkoff. It is something like saying one cannot pay taxes because one voted against the government or the party in power. There is not a heck of a lot of difference in terms of the kind of situation we face.
We have seen the attempt to organize unions go down the drain. We have seen bitter, long strikes where that has been the issue that clobbered the workers. Time and time again we have seen that kind of situation and we know it is not the millennium. We know there are a number of other things we need, but we also know that one of the things we have to establish is some protection and some rights for those members who want a union. The dues checkoff, the union security issue, has been the issue we have focused on.
Let me tell the House it is not the only issue. There are 19 specific strong recommendations and some of us have feelings that may not agree totally with the priorities of the Ontario Federation of Labour in terms of its presentation to the government. If the members opposite would look at it instead of insulting union executives, they might get somewhere some day. We all recognize the clobbering the workers have received over the union security issue and what it means to them and to people on the picket line. A major issue at Fleck Manufacturing Company, a major issue at Fotomat Canada Limited now, could be the issue that kills or cures the people who are desperately striking --
The Acting Speaker: Order. Will the member for Cambridge (Mr. M. Davidson) please allow his colleague from Hamilton East to speak? He has the floor.
The Acting Speaker: Order. Will the member for Hamilton East please proceed?
Mr. Mackenzie: I would urge all my colleagues to ignore the Liberal interjections totally. That is about what they deserve.
Whether it is a Blue Cross strike, a Fotomat, a Fleck or any one of a good number of other strikes we have gone through over this issue, those people are up against the realities of everyday life, and the reality is the company decided that the issue it could take them on and beat them on is whether or not they should be forced to pay their dues and whether the union should have the checkoff.
Mr. Stong: They just want the money.
Mr. Mackenzie: That is a pretty crass comment. However, I are missing my own admonition; I will not do it again, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Makarchuk: It does reflect the Liberal mentality.
Mr. M. Davidson: It is not worth answering.
Mr. Mackenzie: This has been one of the key issues and has been picked up by decisions of not only union executives, as we have heard mentioned here, or of the Ontario Federation of Labour executive board or body, but, I would remind everyone, as a convention decision at the OFL convention. One of the major fights of the great union movement has been to establish union security. It is an issue that even the Tories have trouble denying. No one more of a right winger or a hard hat than the ex-Minister of Labour, the member for York Mills (Miss Stephenson), understood the justice of the issue, and that was something, believe me, coming from that source.
We have this as a key issue. We were presented very strongly, and this is one of my annoyances, with a demand at the last moment -- and it should be put in context after much lobbying, pushing and the many questions I have asked in this House of the Minister of Labour as to whether or not we were going to get the union security issue, which had been sort of hinted at -- that if we got anything out of the OFL brief or list of demands -- and they are a legitimate pressure group in our society although they seem to get not a fraction of what a lobby from the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association or the chamber of commerce may get; certainly they get their way with an awful lot of tax breaks in this province -- but out of all of their demands, whether it is the plant closures, plant moves, union security, strike situation, strikebreakers and all of the issues that are bothering working people and were getting nowhere, there were some rumours that we might get one small concession from the ministry.
I am not surprised this is the one concession because I really do not believe that any fair-minded or just person could argue that it is not totally justifiable and totally right. I suppose the verdict will not be in for some time, but until we see how the ministry deals with some of the problems that it may present and whether or not it is going to do the job we think it will do, at least it has the potential of defusing some of the labour problems and labour unrest in Ontario.
The Tories would like that, going into an election. That is to their advantage and I fully understand the politics of it. Notwithstanding that, it might also give some of the workers an opportunity to get a first contract for that union they fought so desperately hard for through the certification period and through their attempts to negotiate -- although they had been held up over this issue; although first contracts are not always the best contracts -- and to establish themselves as a union. There is an obligation on the union to do a job in terms of teaching, instructing and helping its members to get a better contract the next time around. There is that possibility there. It is a better possibility than if you are down the drain, and that is what has been happening in all too many cases.
We were presented with a government proposition made to the OFL, made to the leaders of the major unions in Ontario, that, “Yes, we will move, we will give you the union checkoff. We cannot deny the justice of it, but we have got to have something to saw off with or to argue with our own members on, and the argument is that we want everybody to have a vote. When you come up to that contract, we want the right of management to be able to request one vote on the final offer, whether it is during or after a strike situation.”
Quite frankly, I think that was correctly characterized by trade union leaders I have listened to as an insult to the trade union movement. I said exactly the same thing myself when speaking to the press about it and in any comments I have made when asked about it in this province. I think it is something like saying, “We are really not sure you represent your members or the thinking of your members.”
Let me tell the House, there are very few unions that I know, and they know the kind of odds they are up against, that are afraid to put their members’ wishes on the line. We have had plenty of reason to have some fear over that. A tough management will use it, if it can, to try to clobber the union. They will use it, whether it is a small plant or a large plant, if their judgement is that the membership feeling is not strong enough that it can get away with ordering a vote on a final offer and get an inferior contract. We know those things, and we accept those things as being part of the facts of life.
Nevertheless, I happen to have some faith in the trade union movement in Ontario and I do not see it as much of a threat, as some people do, but I recognize the concern over it. We could not understand why there could not have been some movement in that particular area.
What I want this House to know clearly, and I said I am not pulling any punches here tonight, is exactly the kind of proposition that was put to us, not by the government, although we have had many talks with it since, but by some of our friends in the trade union movement. We are faced with winning the major fight and an important fight we have made over getting the union checkoff and union security.
That means a hell of a lot; it is an everyday, immediate fact of life to girls who are on the Blue Cross or Fotomat picket lines. I am just using those two because they are two of the most publicized, but there are a number of others. It is an immediate fact of life. They get their chance to try to get a better contract if they have that issue removed, which has been the issue that management has been clobbering them with.
There is a danger to some of the larger unions in that they feel management may use it to try to force a vote on what is seen by the negotiating committee and the executive of the union to be an inadequate contract. That is a danger we face in the trade-off. It is a danger I do not happen to share as strongly as some people do because I happen to have a heck of a lot more faith in the strength of the trade union movement. I say that, having said that, we have plenty of reasons to be concerned with what has happened to us in the past.
We have the choice of getting that much in return for the two trade-offs which, I can only presume, the minister needed to sell his caucus on supporting it. The proposition put to us was that we get it free and clear or we do not get it and go back at it in the fall, if at all. That is a little bit of gentle persuasion, and I am being kind.
Mr. Makarchuk: Some would call it blackmail.
Mr. Mackenzie: I do not like it. It is one of the things I have been unhappy about. I am unhappy about this last-minute offering of this kind of proposition.
Some of us have been through negotiations before. We understand, whether we like it or not, that we do not always get everything we want. The decision we had to make as a caucus and still have to make in some of the final parts of it, was whether or not the trade-off in winning that battle, which could have been the all-pervasive battle of the last couple of years, over the need for that kind of protection, particularly for new and small units, was worth it.
I do not hide behind anybody’s skirt. I played a major role in convincing the members of our caucus we had to go with it. The decision of our caucus was that it was worth it, but we were not happy with it.
The thing is that we are not dealing with an NDP bill. We never would have seen a bill from the Liberals. We are dealing with a government bill and we know that. It is a matter of getting the best we can out of the government and then deciding whether or not it is worth it, whether the issue is important enough at this point to try to win that battle and then to take a look at whether or not the amendments that are in there to soften the blow for the Tories are abused.
The verdict is not in on that. There is great fear about that. If in the next six months we see that abused by management in the number of the units, there is going to be hell to pay over the arguments in this House. I suppose what will decide it will be where the people stand and how strongly they feel in an election.
That particular issue is something the next few months will tell. I do not happen to think it is going to be used in the way some people fear. I want a statement from the Minister of Labour in this House on that. The concern most adequately put in my own caucus was to get union security and to have an organization effort in a new plant. We have the plant management wait and wait, and we are forced to strike. After we strike, they go to work. If it is a small plant of 50 or 60 employees, they quickly hire 30 or 40 scabs. There is no hesitation in using that word in this caucus whether it offends some people’s sensibility or not.
Then they vote. They are not voting on whether they have a union or not; that is established. They vote on the contract and they vote against their own interests, including the scabs who vote against it. We understand that is one of the small checkmates. Nevertheless, they vote to accept what is an inferior contract. Where do we stand? What is the minister’s position?
We wanted this kind of protection or an amendment on it. We were told we would get the bill as it is or not at all. We were also told by the legal authorities in the ministry, by senior ministry people up to the deputy minister level, and by the Minister of Labour in discussions that I and others have had with him, that the intent of the bill was not to allow that obvious misuse of authority or misuse of a piece of legislation.
Whether or not we have that in the amendment, which I would certainly much prefer, I want to hear from the Minister of Labour very clearly, if the intention of the ministry is that the bill could be used in that way.
I am sorry if I sound cynical on anything like this, but I also know that what we were offered when we were offered the deal was a package, and what we bought was a package. That does not mean the Minister of Labour should not clearly indicate what his thinking was on that particular point. I do not think any fair-minded person, including a Tory, can say that is the intent of the bill, because if it is they are deliberately inviting management to destroy an attempt to organize and certify a new union. That is the kind of proposition that was put to us and I do not like it.
The other proposition that was put to us within our own caucus as well, and they have not taken a labour position on any other bill, is what if the Liberals try to embarrass us? I will be embarrassed only, and I guess this is where I have to have some faith in the government and the Minister of Labour on this particular issue --
Mr. Kerrio: You are selling your soul.
Mr. Mackenzie: I will be embarrassed only --
Mr. Kerrio: Are you going to tell these people what you are doing?
An hon. member: Resign.
The Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr. Mackenzie: Not only will I not resign but let me make it clear that there is no member in that party who will ever defeat me in my riding.
The Acting Speaker: If the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere wishes to make interjections he will have to eject the man from his seat.
Mr. Warner: My seat is occupied.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The honourable member for Hamilton East has the floor.
Mr. Mackenzie: My concern would be to have that kind of firm commitment on the record in Hansard from the Minister of Labour. I am prepared to accept that he was being honest and telling us the truth when he told us it is the package or nothing. I would like him to be honest enough to tell us whether he will buy the Liberal amendment. I suppose we are telegraphing our move but I said I was not going to pull any punches in this debate. The Liberal amendment is very attractive to us, but we are not prepared to sacrifice the bill on the basis of that, if we have an assurance.
Mr. Mackenzie: I want to make it very clear that we were not going to be anything but straightforward in the kind of a situation we face. What we are concerned with is getting the principle of union security through. It is worth quite a bit to us. We want some answers from the minister in terms of the questions I have raised.
I want one other thing clarified. I would like some kind of comment from the minister in terms of the interpretation regarding construction employees. The first reaction of our members was that they were excluded from the bill, period. It now appears that it is only in terms of the checkoff. Do the same circumstances apply in terms of the ordering of the vote? That should be clearly laid out by the minister as well. I think these are legitimate areas of concern.
In closing my remarks, let me make it clear --
Mr. Roy: Talk about stick-handling.
Mr. Mackenzie: No, I have put it on the line, which the Liberal members have not done.
It is not what the OFL itself says, although that carries a lot of weight with me and I make no bones about it. It is not what individual pressure groups say, for whatever reason within the trade union movement -- and some of them carry great weight with me. I do not buy that kind of pressure and do not intend to.
What I am going to take a look at is what is involved in this bill. I did not want to but I am constrained once more to remark that some people do not have any understanding at all. They are not the people who have been through the wringers. It is we, in the kind of pressures that are put on us and the kind of debate over whether it is or is not a good bill or whether we trust it or not. That is the kind of argument we have gone through in this bill.
But I want it clearly understood that what is important to me is whether or not I think the gain outweighs the loss. It establishes in this province something we fought so darned hard for and has been such a bone of contention, and that is the union checkoff. I think it is worth the risk. That is exactly why I am recommending to my caucus that we support the bill and that we not fool around with the Liberal amendments unless we are sure they will be accepted by the government -- and I will be that blunt.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude my remarks on that note. I do not know how I can be any more straightforward in this House.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure tonight to join this very important debate and to tell the honourable minister that we are supporting his bill and that our critic has made his position very clear.
I have to bring a message here to the Legislature and to those people in organized labour who are listening to this debate, which is very significant and important at this time. We debated this issue today in our caucus. One thing that marked our caucus that did not mark the Socialist caucus was that both sides were represented. I think that is significant and important. There were those who spoke to the issues as they relate to organized labour -- people very interested.
I take exception to the remark that the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk hates labour. That is further from the truth than anything that has ever been said in this House.
That member has been an honourable member of this Legislature for many years. He has supported labour and its causes. He knows what labour is all about because he himself participates to a greater degree than many of those people in the Socialist party who have never turned a tap of work in their lives. I have done more work by mistake than many of those people have done on purpose in a lifetime.
It is very important when we discuss and debate a bill like the one before us that both sides are fairly represented. This is truly the democratic process. The people of Ontario are not all New Democrats or Socialist; they are Liberals, they are Conservatives and they are Socialists. The numbers in these chambers indicate to what degree they exist.
That party does not represent organized labour. They represent the union bosses who are as detrimental to this country as big monopolies and big business are. It is time that organized labour began to realize that one of the greatest jurisdictions of the world, the United States of America, did not need a third party to represent organized labour. It never did, and this country does not need a third party.
The Liberals and the Tories have enough people who support our parties and can tell all those who are willing to be honest about the whole involvement that that party does not represent labour. Until that party decides that it will take equal time with management and truly represent the people in the labour movement in an honest, fair way, it will never sit on those benches or those benches.
I have to say that it is a fact that big labour from the United States dictates to all those rascals to my left and they kotow to it. How they do their thing is subject to what kind of representation they give organized labour. If they were true representatives of organized labour, by now we would have Canadian unions representing Canadians, not American unions representing the NDP. That is very important to this whole scheme of things.
The members to my left went about as far as they are going to go with what was a good leader in Stephen Lewis -- a moderate who was willing to listen to both sides of an issue. My friends there have lost that leader. They do not have the kind of leadership that labour in Ontario needs today. They have lost it. Labour in Ontario does not need raving Socialists representing it. It needs honourable people, honest people who are going to look at two sides of an issue and do what is fair, not come down on either side to the discredit of the other side.
I have to say that that is what this party stands for. We understand and we are willing, and it must really hurt those rascals there to hear our member, the labour critic, stand up and put forth an amendment that is truly representative of one area where the worker of Ontario is disadvantaged. Now they can’t bring themselves to support that amendment.
Mr. Kerrio: I have to say, they have another great problem. They are going to support that government at the same time as they are going to try to run it down. Talk about speaking out of both sides of your mouth at once, Mr. Speaker. I have to say those guys have invented a third side because they don’t know where they fit. Isn’t that a terrible predicament for them to find themselves in?
Mr. Kerrio: You will notice, Mr. Speaker, I haven’t made a reference to one interjection. I will not allow myself to do that. This bill is important and significant. The Socialists have interjected on two or three occasions but I refuse to recognize any kind of interjection. I want to say it does my heart the world of good to see them grovelling over there, supporting the government, trying to run it down and not knowing where they fit in the whole sphere of things.
But if I were to conclude on a note that is worth repeating, I would like to make a plea to those people in organized labour who think they have friends in the Socialist party that they had better take another look, because there are members of the traditional parties who understand the problems of labour, who are willing to help, to discuss the problems, to do what is fair and just.
Nowhere in a democratic process is a party committed to support one side of an issue regardless of how it stands. That is the right of the democratic process. That is what the government stands for. That is why the members to my left will never survive in Ontario, because the people are wise enough to understand that any issue should be tempered with fairness on both sides. That is what we propose to do. I hope the succeeding members from the Socialist party who speak to the bill will just address themselves to the bill, because they are not making points in any other area
Mr. M. Davidson: Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise and support the bill before us this evening. I was a little taken aback by the last member of the Legislature who had the opportunity to speak. I do not really know what he was speaking to. The bill is quite evident. In this province, if we pass this legislation, there will be a mandatory dues checkoff, which I suggest this party and the labour movement -- and by that I mean the workers that the member seems to have some control of over there, the workers in Ontario -- have been advocating for many years.
Mr. M. Davidson: I want to suggest to the member for York Centre, who turns out to be a lawyer, that perhaps he had better learn about working people by being a part of them.
Mr. Stong: I was one of them. I am one of them.
Mr. M. Davidson: To explain that, I would simply like to say this: I went to work in a cotton mill out of grade 10 at 15 years of age. I worked in an unorganized cotton mill and from the time I was 15 until I was 29 I helped to organize the workers in a cotton mill. From the time I was 29 until I was elected into this House, I was a union organizer going out and doing all the things the member seems to think this party knows nothing about.
I ask the member, in his position, what on God’s earth did he ever do for the working people in our society?
Mr. Stong: I represented them.
Mr. M. Davidson: Having said that, Mr. Speaker, let me suggest this to you. We in the New Democratic Party look at this bill in the context that in some areas it gives a victory to the trade union movement in the province. But there are areas of this bill that insult those of us who have been, are and continue to be trade unionists.
There are sections of this bill that we do take exception to and object to damned strongly. We understand one thing that the members opposite will never understand: if we want labour harmony and to develop within Ontario a true trade union-management relationship, this is one step -- I am not saying it is the total -- in that direction. That is something they do not understand.
Mr. Bradley: The enemy is over there.
Mr. Stong: We do understand.
Mr. M. Davidson: That is something those people over there will never understand because they have never been involved in the kinds of conflict that have existed.
Mr. Bradley: The enemy is over there.
Mr. Stong: What is the member talking about?
Mr. M. Davidson: They seem to think that the need for this legislation is a new phenomenon in the province.
Mr. Stong: What about the ordinary people? We are the ordinary people.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I want to remind the member for York Centre and the member for St. Catharines that every member has a right not only to speak in this House but also to be heard. I want to remind them that this is a democratic forum and everybody not only has the right to speak but also to be heard.
Mr. M. Davidson: I thank you for that, Mr. Speaker. I can well understand why my colleagues on the right of us -- and I suggest on the right of anybody else in this Legislative Assembly -- would be hostile towards this kind of legislation. I have to suggest that there are people within their caucus who do understand the necessity and the relativity of this type of legislation as it applies to labour relations within Ontario. The difficulty I have with the position that apparently they are going to take, and they want to move amendments -- I can understand that --
Mr. Stong: Support our amendment.
Mr. M. Davidson: Everything in here is not good.
Mr. Stong: Support our amendment.
Mr. M. Davidson: The member keeps saying, “Support it.” Let me tell him why I won’t. It is the part of the bill he does not totally understand. It is a part of labour relations that has existed in Ontario that you, as a lawyer, would not understand.
Mr. Speaker: It would help, too, if the member for Cambridge would direct his comments to the chair.
Mr. M. Davidson: I am speaking to the principle of the bill, Mr. Speaker, and I will continue to do so.
Within this bill there is a provision to provide for mandatory dues checkoff. That is the provision and that is the main principle of this legislation. There are, in our view -- and I say “our” in terms of the New Democratic Party -- other sections of this bill with which we cannot totally agree.
My God, as a trade unionist since I was 15 years of age, I do not like to accept the fact that this government somehow or other has incorporated into this legislation a provision that gives the company the right to call for a vote. I do not like that. I cannot accept that as a trade unionist. But in the bill, as a total bill, I have to weigh and balance what I am getting in return for what it is I am giving. That is what it is I have to look at.
Mr. Speaker, I want to suggest that you have allowed the member for Niagara Falls to make some very serious comments about Socialists and their relativity to this bill, and not only to this bill but also to the trade union movement of the province. You sat there in your chair and you have allowed them to speak about it. Let me talk to you a little bit, if I may, under the terms of this bill --
Mr. Speaker: I want to remind the honourable member that is his right.
Mr. M. Davidson: That’s right. Under the terms of this bill -- and you can rule me out of order when you think I am, sir -- let me suggest to you that I, too, have the right as a member of this Legislature to talk about the terms of relativity. I want to talk about what this bill means -- and I think that is what the member for Niagara Falls was trying to talk about, although I am not exactly sure -- what it means relative to management-labour relationships in Ontario.
All I can say is this: Based on the statements made by the member for Niagara Falls, based on the context of this bill, I find it very gratifying to understand that after all of the years I have been in the labour movement -- and I think now of my age when I joined a union, and that is 30 years ago -- that side of the House had suddenly recognized there is, within this legislation, some rights of some individuals and some rights granted to the labour movement in this province.
Mr. Stong: Go one step further.
Mr. M. Davidson: But in doing that, let me tell members, they have included and will hold solidly to several sections of this bill which, as a trade unionist, I don’t like. I don’t like those, but I am not a trade unionist in this Legislature. I was elected by the people and I am supposed to talk about what is best.
Let me tell the House something about what is best. I came out of a trade union where today, even in 1980, after all the years that this trade union has been in existence, we still have locals that do not have complete membership within them. We still exist under the legislation up until this point. We still have unions where there are members who do not pay dues.
More important, what we still have in the smaller locals -- not the large locals in this province, because they have the strength to negotiate them into the contract -- are escape clauses, in the year 1980 in the province of Ontario, which say in effect that 30 days prior to the expiry date of the agreement, if a member does not like it or cannot live with what the union has done for him, all he has to do is sign a paper and get out of the union. Do you know what that leaves us with, Mr. Speaker, after all the years people have struggled to form unions in this province? It leaves us with small locals that are fighting among themselves, and in fighting among themselves they are not doing any good either to the union or to the company under which they work.
They are not producing the way they could produce. They are not being of any benefit either to the company or to themselves. We have, under the circumstances in which we exist at the present time, a situation where the large locals can survive and the smaller locals have to go out and battle. I think this legislation will alleviate some of that problem. Not only that, it will alleviate the problems that have existed in this province for many years.
I can recall, as an organizer, organizing Tilco Plastics Limited. I was the guy who organized Tilco Plastics. Most of the members over on that side can remember the strike; I hope some of them took an interest in it. They know what happened in Tilco Plastics as well as I do. They know what happened in Spinrite Yarns and Dyers United in Listowel, Ontario, and I hope some of these people have taken the time to read that.
Mr. Stong: Certainly.
Mr. M. Davidson: I am sure they haven’t. The issue was, and has been in every case, the union security clause in the agreement. That was the issue. Never was it wages; never was it benefits. It was always to get the first union security clause in that contract. You worked from that basis: that you no longer had to fight your fellow workers, you no longer had to fight the company. What you had was a clause that said you didn’t have to join the union, but you paid the equivalent because, damn it all, if that union was going to get an agreement, you were going to derive the benefit. If you are going to derive the benefit, just like anything else in our society, then you had better be prepared to pay. That’s what this bill says.
As I said earlier, I do not agree with the other sections of this bill, but I can tell the House this: I have been involved in the labour movement, just like my friend the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea). I know his background. I know where he was.
Mr. Laughren: Let’s not talk about that.
Mr. M. Davidson: He may not be prepared to stand up and say no, but he understands the negotiating process. He knows that and he knows what labour relations in Ontario mean, and so does the Minister of Labour. I am sure that in proposing this bill, the Minister of Labour probably had more difficulty in getting that piece of paper through his caucus and through his cabinet than he is going to have getting it through this House.
If there is any stalling on this bill, I want to take a look over here at these people who have tried to woo labour. I want to ask them about last evening at the Shakespearian Festival in Stratford when their leader (Mr. S. Smith), the member for Perth (Mr. Edighoffer), who is the Deputy Speaker of this Legislative Assembly, and the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) walked through a picket line of the Canadian Union of Public Employees to get into that building to watch that show.
Where is their place in the labour society today? Where are they as a caucus? Where do they stand in support of labour? They stand nowhere. They destroyed themselves last night by walking into that building. I want to ask the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) would he have crossed that picket line? Would he have walked into that door?
If this bill had been passed and had been in effect prior to the strike in Stratford, they would not have had to be on strike. They would not have had to be on that picket line. The leader, the member for Hamilton West (Mr. S. Smith), would not have had to walk through workers who were only trying to defend their own position within the structure of society.
Based on this legislation -- and the member for Niagara Falls well knows it -- and on the fact that we are talking about this legislation, the leader of the Liberal Party in Ontario abrogated every position the labour movement in this province has ever taken on the rights of workers by crossing a picket line. He will live condemned forever based on that.
Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, I speak in favour of the passage of this bill this evening, even though I recognize it is not a bill that all members of this Legislature can support in its entirety. I will attempt to confine my remarks at the request of the Speaker, as I know he is anxious for this, to the provisions of the bill itself as opposed to engaging in some of the histrionics that have gone on this evening.
I think we all recognize the dilemma which certain people are placed in and which all members of the Legislature probably share to a certain extent, in that some of us have grave concerns about certain provisions of this bill, particularly the tradeoff that exists. The main aspect of the bill, in my view, is section 2, which now calls for the compulsory paying of union dues to a union that is properly certified as the bargaining agent for a group of employees.
Those of us who are familiar with the labour union movement recognize that this has been a sore point across Ontario and has resulted in many long and cantankerous strikes. We recognize that those who benefit in terms of wages, job security, fringe benefits and health and safety protection, which have been won by unions across this province, should also be required to donate funds through the compulsory checkoff to the union that is representing them and winning these benefits.
They are also benefiting from the lobbying efforts of the union which represents them. That union must lobby for them at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. By providing these funds to the union, they also are recognizing the time, effort and energy that have been expended. Often it is a very difficult and pressure-filled position that these people, particularly in the early days of the labour union movement, have had to place themselves in.
In those plants where management is far from progressive and enlightened and where workers sometimes place their own safety -- and some would suggest on occasion their own lives on the line -- they should have provided for by all of those who are going to benefit from those efforts with the necessary funds in the form of union dues.
This is not breaking new ground. We in this Legislature recognize there are three other provinces at present that have legislation of this kind on the books: Quebec and two western provinces.
As a member of the Ontario Public School Men Teachers’ Federation, when I was in the teaching profession -- I am on leave of absence at the present time -- I was not asked whether I wanted to pay my dues or not, but was required to pay them. I gladly did so because of the efforts put forward by the leaders of the teachers’ federation and those who represented us at all levels. I know of very few who have ever objected to this particular principle, certainly within the teaching profession.
I think we recognize that the kinds of strikes that have existed have been because labour has been forced to fight for something fundamental in terms of the labour union movement and representation of workers. In other words, in initial contracts, instead of being able to fight for certain fringe benefits, wages and protection that they might have been able to fight for, they have been forced to concentrate on the issue of compulsory dues checkoff. On some occasions, other aspects of those issues on the bargaining table have had to be conceded because of the concentration on this particular matter. This legislation will remove that necessity.
I see dangers in certain other provisions in this particular bill. The proposed amendment -- and I recognize we are not at the stage where we can discuss amendments in detail -- which has been alluded to by our labour critic in the official opposition, requiring that only those who are employees at the time the strike commenced should be allowed to take part in a vote, thereby precluding those who might have been hired as strike breakers, I think is an amendment that offers an awful lot.
The bill says that “the minister shall on such terms as he considers necessary direct that a vote of employees to accept or reject the offer be held and thereafter no further such request shall be made.” Although I recognize that kind of undertaking can be enforced, because there is the ministerial discretion, I think it would be better to have that included as part of the legislation. Therefore, I am hopeful the Minister of Labour will seriously consider that aspect and will accept it as part of this legislation rather than using it as an excuse to withdraw the bill because of some charge of obstructionism.
I think it is a positive proposed amendment and one which the minister, in all conscience, can accept. We have already had the support of our friends to the left in the New Democratic Party, who I think recognize this as a very positive amendment.
The collective bargaining process is not going to be enhanced by the right of the employer, at any particular time in the negotiation process, be it before the commencement of the strike or during the strike, to insist upon a vote of the employees on the last offer. Indeed, it is my understanding that the Minister of Labour has the right to call for such a vote and to implement such a vote on his own terms at the present time. I believe that is so under section 34(d) of the Labour Relations Act.
I think most of us would recognize that the Minister of Labour would be more likely to implement a vote of that kind in a responsible fashion than would one of the adversaries in this particular dispute. Nevertheless, because the government has insisted that this be part of the package, because the bill will not proceed unless this particular provision and the subsequent provision concerning those who have the right to vote in the total bargaining unit are accepted, because the bill’s passage is contingent upon those two particular aspects, we will reluctantly have to support them. Certainly, it would make it a lot easier to accept that unfortunate compromise if the minister were prepared to accept the amendment we have before us.
It is my hope that members will give this bill speedy passage so that we can have it implemented by the time we rise from this session. I hope it will have gone though all the stages, and that we will have at least a partial, progressive bill affecting labour in the province.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support this bill. I agree with previous speakers who have said this bill hardly is exactly the way it should be drawn, that there are reservations which have already been expressed about certain provisions of the bill. I listened with great interest to other members who have spoken in this debate, and I find this evening one that will somehow find its mark in the history of this Legislature. I find many parts of the bill objectionable; they have been stated already. I find many of the comments that have been made during the course of the debate equally objectionable.
I have heard murmured from the far rear of the benches to my extreme right some words about a backroom deal. I find that rather an amazing piece of business when members have before them -- for those who can read -- a bill printed which states exactly what we are talking about.
I have also heard during the course of the evening’s debate precisely what the nature of our reservations are, and how far the government is prepared to go in recognizing that a union is acknowledged in our society as being something to which people have a right to belong and to which those people for whom a bargaining unit negotiates have some obligation to pay dues. It seems to me all of that is done in public. It is printed, and after this evening Hansard will show precisely what the esteemed members to my extreme right have said during the course of the evening. I find that an extremely worthwhile exercise. So, without question, the members of this House are in support of the principle of this bill.
I find that those members who have expressed their opinions so far are simply recognizing that in 1980 people do have the right to belong to a union, and a union is an acknowledged device whereby people negotiate for their salaries and their benefits. All those who receive benefits by virtue of a union have an obligation then to pay dues.
There are clauses in this bill to which we would take exception. The bill clearly is not designed the way we would have designed it. But I think we acknowledge that this is as far as this government, with all its faults, is prepared to go. We accept that.
I think I would be remiss if, in speaking to the principle of this bill, I did not address myself at least for a few moments to those comments that have been made by my colleagues to the extreme right in this Legislature. We have seen the Monday position of the Liberal Party. That was demonstrated clearly in Stratford last evening when the member for Hamilton West, scab, crossed the legal picket line. That is their position on Monday evenings. On Tuesday evenings, however, we find a somewhat different position presented in this Legislature. I have heard two speakers so far for the Liberal Party, and it seems to me they have struck the usual Liberal compromise on the matter: one is opposed and one is in favour.
I can think of a number of terms which aptly describe the position of the Liberal Party in this matter. I am having some difficulty in finding a term which meets parliamentary decorum, but I think I have come up with one ancient parliamentary term which describes them in their entirety. It is the term “mugwump.” That describes, in ancient parliamentary language, those who choose to sit on the fence with their mug on one side and their wump on the other. That, I think, describes quite aptly the Liberal Party.
Last night in Stratford, when we had the audacity to ask that the minister not only speak to a certain matter but follow it up with actions, when we in Stratford looked at what the Liberal Party does about a legal picket line, the answer was quite clear. The leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario crosses the picket line; no question, no argument. All the followers are in line; they scab across a picket line. No question there. Everything is nice and clear about where the honourable members are. They are quite prepared to walk across the picket line.
Mr. Peterson: Just because you are a cultural pig doesn’t mean everyone else is.
Mr. Breaugh: The honourable member from wherever just described me as a cultural pig, I believe was the term.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Breaugh: Speaking to his eloquence and his vocabulary, I think that about describes his knowledge of the labour movement as well.
In Stratford last night we saw a manifestation of where the Liberal Party in Ontario is in regard to organized labour: they are against it; no question about that at all.
This evening too I also heard some honourable members to my extreme right talk about a failure to recognize that Woodstock is in Ontario, because they talked about American unions. I happen to come from a community where we know a little bit about the trade union movement. We happen to know, for example, that Bob White, who leads the United Automobile Workers in Canada, comes from a place called Woodstock. It happens to be in Ontario. Stewart Cooke, who happens to be the leader of the United Steelworkers of America in this province, happens to come from Hamilton. These are Canadians leading Canadian units. Is there some question that those two communities are no longer here in this province? They are not a part of Ontario? I think they are.
What is interesting about this evening’s debate is that we have had some clear indications of who is where on what issues. We have had some indications this evening about who understands the trade union movement in this province and for whom they are a matter of convenience. Although last night in Stratford they were opposed to trade unions and their right to have a strike and their right to have a picket line, tonight we are finding that in here in this Legislature they have the odd loose word in favour of trade unions. It is an interesting piece of business.
I do not want to stand around with bated breath, waiting in anticipation of where the Liberals are going to be tomorrow. I do not care where they are. I could give the House a suggestion as to where they should be, but I do not care where they are.
Mr. Roy: Where are you going to be? In bed with the Tories?
Mr. Nixon: We know where he slept last night.
Mr. Breaugh: I have listened to all of the suggestions from my colleagues on the extreme right as to where I should go to bed this evening. An honourable member asked me where I slept last night. I slept in Port Elgin, Ontario, with some members of the United Automobile Workers, in a hotel unit. If the member is interested in that kind of stuff, I slept alone, unfortunately. Tonight I will sleep in Oshawa. Unfortunately, it will be with a non-union person but one whom I hold in rather dear terms.
But I want to tell the honourable members to my extreme right that it doesn’t matter where I slept last night or where I will sleep tonight; in this House and on the street and on the picket line I stand with the brothers and sisters who are in unions across this country. This member may have this fascination about where I sleep or where the member sleeps; I have to tell the member that where I sleep is of no concern.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, but you vote with the Tories.
Mr. Breaugh: We just heard another little outburst over here about where I vote. I will tell the member where I vote: I vote with the trade unions in this province. The member may not like it, it may gall him and his members may get upset that I do that, but I am going to do that today and tomorrow; I would have done it yesterday and I will do it a year from now. Those people have a right to get organized and they do have a right to bargain and they do have a right in this province to exist and to express an opinion.
There have been those who have expressed legitimate concerns about this bill. I do not want to deny that for a moment. I too have concerns about the bill -- not about the principle, because I think the principle will be supported even by the Liberal Party. When all is said and done and the rhetoric is through, I think we will find those honourable members to my extreme right in this House, at least some of them, standing to support the principle of this bill.
The difficulties reside with some clauses within this bill which are not to our liking. We will express our concerns about those clauses, as we already have, as we go through clause-by-clause debate. We will reiterate the concerns we have for this bill.
I have in my riding, as I am sure members have in all ridings, people who are still struggling in 1980 for the right to organize. They are struggling for the right to negotiate as a group for salaries and for benefits and, in fact, for existence as trade union members. That is precisely what this bill does. That is precisely what is supportable about this piece of legislation.
I don’t think any of us have made the argument that this bill is the way we would have drafted it, but it is a significant accomplishment for this Legislature in 1980 to see this government propose this kind of bill. I think that accomplishment deserves the acknowledgement of all members within this House.
In the last three or four years, there has been a substantial expenditure of public funds to break strikes. In the last three or four years, there has been a substantial acknowledgement that is wrong and that should not happen. In Boise Cascade, in Fleck Manufacturing Company, in Fotomat Canada Limited, in Sandra Coffee and in a number of other cases, there have been strikes that have gone on for far too long and we all agree they have gone on for far too long.
There have been expenditures of public funds for police actions which we all agree, and I want to underline all -- the government and the opposition, those on the picket line and those who crossed the picket line, and those who were policing that action -- we all agree was the wrong thing to do. In a nutshell, I think this is the first substantial move, and it is long overdue, to correct that situation.
I could go on at great length about the reservations I have about the clauses in the bill. I could also go on about the principle of this bill, which is what this debate is supposedly focusing on. This bill is more than overdue. This bill is necessary. I agree with those who say this bill does not do all that it should. I agree. If I could find some mechanism whereby I could force the Minister of Labour and the government across the way to change the nature of the bill, I would do that. I am acknowledging now in this debate that this cannot happen, and that this is the best we are going to get.
Mr. Mancini: Who calls the shots in the New Democratic Party?
Mr. Breaugh: I will tell the member who calls the shots in the New Democratic Party; it is the working people of Ontario. That strikes me as being a particularly reasonable and rational way to go. Excuse me for responding to interjections, but I feel I must.
For example, I spent last evening with 120 trade unionists from across the province of Ontario and we went through this piece of legislation. We discussed the pros and the cons -- and there are both sides -- and at the end of the evening we came to the consensus that this bill was necessary in principle and that this had to happen. No matter what may be right or wrong about the piece of legislation before this House, the principle is paramount. Those of us who have spent some time at a negotiating table anywhere in this province, or anywhere in the world, understand that when one sits down to negotiate with anybody, the government, management or whoever, one never gets all of the things one wants to have.
To me, this bill represents something that is acceptable and something that this caucus, this party and the working people of Ontario desperately need. That desperation of need and the paramount expression of concern that the people have put to me say to me and to the members of my party that this bill deserves and will get our support.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I know there are other members of the House who may wish to make a contribution to this debate concerning Bill 89, so I will try to keep my remarks short and to the point.
What we have witnessed here this evening is the total abandonment of all the democratic principles that have been set up in society over the past 100 years. The member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) does not know the difference between negotiating at a bargaining table and the function of Parliament. When we receive legislation, if we feel it should be amended, it is up to the opposition critic or the opposition party to make those amendments in good faith. The government accept those amendments if they believe in them. If they do not believe in them, let the chips fall where they may.
I have some knowledge of what unions are all about and what their activities are. It may bother the New Democratic Party somewhat, but my father has been a member of the United Automobile Workers of America for 30 years. He worked for 30 years in a stone quarry for Allied Chemical Canada Limited. He supported the union movement, as I do, and he raised his family of seven children on one salary. He is not a pseudo-intellectual Socialist like my friends to the right. He knows what working people are all about.
Mr. Breaugh: A point of order, Mr. Speaker: I want to point out that the right is in that direction and the left is up here. If the honourable member cannot tell his right from his left --
Mr. Nixon: He was not talking about the NDP. He was talking about Ontario Hydro.
Mr. Mancini: I hope the member for Oshawa feels a little better. Mr. Speaker, there are many people involved in the Liberal Party who know what the union movement is all about, who have lived the union movement. That is what bothers the members to my left. They think they have the whole field to themselves. How sad. It is simply not true. I could outline in minute detail the activities my father has been involved in on behalf of union people and on behalf of the working people of Ontario.
I go back to the initial statement I made when I rose. It is the duty of Parliament, when it receives legislation, if the members of the opposition see fit to make amendments, to make those amendments. What we have in this House now is what I think is the most unusual coalition that has ever existed in the history of Ontario politics.
We have a Progressive Conservative Party which has been in power for almost 40 years and which has made Ontario suffer for that consecutive power it has held in the province. To our left we have the pseudo-intellectual Socialists, who try to pretend they are intellectuals but who have very little knowledge of the working people. They are so busy dreaming their Socialist dreams they have forgotten the basic principle of Parliament; that is, to amend legislation that they do not agree with. This is the basic principle of Parliament. That is why they were elected to come to Queen’s Park: to make amendments to the legislation this government proposes. When the Minister of Labour says “Jump,” the NDP say “How high?” You have abandoned all your principles.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Perhaps the honourable member would address his remarks to the chair.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party is going to propose an amendment to this bill. The member for London North (Mr. Van Horne) is going to propose an amendment. He is going to carry out his parliamentary duties. He is not going to abandon his parliamentary principles, as has the party to the left. He is going to introduce an amendment that will prohibit strikebreakers from taking part in the vote that will decide the outcome of the contract.
I want to know if the New Democratic Party members wish to have strikebreakers participate in the vote. I want to know if that is their position.
Mr. Bradley: We know the answer.
Mr. Mancini: That is not the position of the working people of Ontario and it is not the position of the unions. It is a sad day in Ontario when our democratic rights are given over to some kind of coalition which the New Democratic Party hopes will carry the life of this government on to next year. These people have already governed too long. The day will come soon when we will approach the people and we will explain to them that the Liberal Party had made this amendment in Parliament. They have not abandoned their democratic principles. The New Democratic Party is in bed with the Tories in a grand coalition. The Minister of Labour said “Jump,” and they said “How high?”
Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Speaker, on occasion people who do not know me terribly well ask me why I am not a Liberal. When they look at the actions of the Liberal Party on this issue, it is fairly clear to them that I am not a Liberal. The Ontario Liberal Party is fundamentally sleazy, two-faced and does not give a damn about working people. On top of it, they are the most incredibly opportunistic band I have ever seen.
It happens on occasion people ask me why I am not a Tory. When they look at the position of the Conservative Party of Ontario on this bill, which affects the rights of working people, they can tell it is because the Conservative Party of Ontario is a party that consistently and consciously insists on demeaning working people by making them crawl cap in hand to ask for even basic social and economic justice.
I have heard a lot of crap tonight about the Liberal Party and its brave defence of working people and democracy in our society. Let me say I have never seen a Liberal MPP on a picket line, but I have seen Liberal MPPs cross picket lines. So much for their commitment to the labour movement.
It makes me angry when I see the Tories come in with a half loaf like this 35 years after the fact. I find it repugnant that the Tories issue the kind of blackmail they have issued on this bill. It shows how little hope working people can have in either the Conservative Party or the Liberal Party in Ontario. I say, as does the trade union movement, a plague on both their houses. It is time we did have a democratic Socialist government that cares about working people.
This bill provides for mandatory dues checkoffs. That is something the trade union movement thought it had won 35 years ago, but the Conservative government has consistently denied that through legislation in all of that time. Unfortunately, this bill, at the insistence of the Conservative Party, allows scabs to vote in these votes. Unfortunately, because of the existence of the Conservative Party, it allows for employers to call a vote. Both of those are wrong, but one is good, one is long overdue and one is necessary for working people trying to organize in Ontario. We are told it is a package or it is nothing.
I believe the Tory Minister of Labour cares no more about working people than the Liberal Party cares about working people. The Liberal Party is prepared to lose mandatory checkoff by going to amendment, in spite of what the Minister of Labour said he would do if that bill goes forward. I believe the Minister of Labour would withdraw this bill, because I do not believe Tories care any more about workers than the Liberals care about workers in this province.
What is at stake in this bill is the men and women at places like Fotomat and Blue Cross. Will they be lucky like the people at Fleck and the people at Radio Shack, so close and so hard? Maybe they will get organized, but maybe they will not. That is what this bill is about.
What does it mean when the government opposes making it possible for people to organize in plants like that? What kind of workers is it discriminating against? It is discriminating against the people who find it so difficult in our society, and against women, and immigrants in the work place. That makes me sick when I look at what the Liberals are willing to do and what the Tories would do given the opportunity.
Let me personalize it. When I came into this House tonight, I met two people out in the lobby, Ruth Goldthorpe and Rick Bigelow, who are on strike at Fotomat. They were looking for seats in the gallery here and they came to me. But tonight they are looking for something else. They are looking for a job in a union shop. And if this bill goes down the drain, they may not get a job in a union plant at Fotomat. That’s what this bill is about. Those people, my brothers and sisters in the trade union movement, are entitled to union security. That’s why I am supporting this bill; it gives them a chance to get it.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, it may come as a surprise to this House and particularly to the grandstanding puppets to my left that I am going to support this bill. I would think that if we were to talk to different people on the street we would probably have just as many tell us that compulsory dues payment cannot be justified on the basis of democracy. I think we would have quite a number of people tell us that.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Justice Rand strongly warned against a blanket application of his ruling. I would just like to quote what he said: “I should perhaps add that I do not for a moment suggest that this is a device of general applicability. Its object is primarily to enable the union to function properly. In other cases it might defeat that object by lessening the necessity for self-development. In dealing with each labour situation, we must pay regard to its special features and circumstances.” So there are two sides to this business of compulsory checkoffs.
Ms. Gigantes: Which side are you on?
Mr. Roy: If we don’t agree with you, we are on the wrong side. Is that what the NDP says?
Mr. Makarchuk: Albert, you put the people out of work in Brantford.
Ms. Gigantes: Ask him where he was on Fleck.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Riddell: Can you not quieten these squabbling yahoos, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Riddell: I think the greatest surprise is having this bill introduced by the Conservatives. This does not reflect Conservative philosophy whatsoever. I would think the Minister of Labour has been severely chastised by his own colleagues. One only has to read the various articles in all the papers. I was trying to get hold of an article in the Friday edition of the London Free Press but the library up there hasn’t got it yet. That paper had quite an article on this whole business, severely reprimanding the minister for what he has done.
But we all know what he is up to. We all know that the New Democratic Party members are going to diminish in number; the Tories are going to try to appeal to those voters. We know there is probably going to be an election this fall and therefore the minister has come in with this bill. If it were a majority government, we would not have seen this in any way, shape or form.
Even though I support the bill, I do not think it goes far enough. Some of the members have indicated we should be amending the bill to prevent strikebreakers from having a part in a vote. I would even go so far as to say there should be a supervised vote for union certification. The reason I say that is that I was somewhat involved in the Fleck strike. The reason I became involved is that there is one thing I have that these people to my left do not have, and that’s guts, that’s intestinal fortitude, and the reason I say we should have a section in the bill calling for a supervised vote on union certification --
Mr. Speaker: I want to remind the honourable member that he can only talk about things that are in the bill, not what is absent.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, you have been here all night, you have listened to your colleagues call me Jack Fleck, you have listened to your colleagues mention Fleck and my involvement with it, and I think in all fairness you had better give me an opportunity to indicate what I had to do and why it is I feel the bill should go a little further than it does.
Will you permit me to read one or two letters out of about 30 that were sent to me by employees at Fleck? The first one says:
“I went to a union meeting to see what was happening. Just as I sat down, the union organizer came up to me and told me I either had to join the union or leave. To me, all I was doing was paying $1 to find out what was going to happen, as we were told in the plant we would not be told anything so we had better go to the meeting to find out.”
The second letter reads:
“Union cards were passed around back in the fall of 1977. That first night that they were given out, I wanted to take my card home and discuss it with my husband, but they” -- and referring again to union organizers -- “told me the cards must be signed that night and there was mention of $20 that we would have to pay if we did not sign them. This is what the union was going to charge all nonmembers when the union got in. Also, there was mention of jobs being lost if you did not sign. There was great emphasis that we must sign.”
Another letter says:
“I was brought a card while I was doing my work, which I refused last fall, and was told I could not go to the meetings unless I signed. I was on leave of absence for four months and came back the week before the strike. I did not want a union and I did not want the strike, but I did want to go to the meeting to put in my protest, so therefore I had to join four days before the strike.”
Another one says:
“I was told to pay my $1 or I would have to pay more later on. I also asked if I could take the card home and talk it over and get a clear understanding about the union. Then they told me no. When the union did get in, I would not have a job because it would be a closed shop, so I was loaned $1 at that meeting to join the meeting.”
I could go on with 30 of those letters. I am also going to tell the House that these very same people were prepared to come to court when it was my day in court to testify as to how the union was certified, but the charges were withdrawn. I did not have my day in court and I regret that very much, because we did have some very substantial evidence to unfold.
That is the reason I became involved because I happen to know the difference between right and wrong. I also know that most union members --
Mr. Riddell: Why don’t you shut up and give me a chance to talk?
I also know that most union members would like to conduct their affairs in a democratic fashion. I will be willing to bet the members to my left that if given an opportunity to vote on whether they would like secret balloting and whether they would like to have some kind of supervision for union certification, most union members would say yes. I think there are very few who would not want to conduct their affairs in a democratic fashion and have their voting done by secret ballot.
That was my involvement in the Fleck strike. I felt I had to say something about it in order to clear the record. Believe me, I have a lot of people on my side. If you people want to come into the riding and talk all you like, I invite you to do so.
Mr. Roy: They don’t have the guts, Jack.
Mr. Riddell: That is right, they don’t have the guts.
I am not going to carry on any more, Mr. Speaker. I have cleared the record. I have indicated that I believe in a democracy, I believe in democratic rights, and I knew that most of the union members do as well. The only ones who don’t are these people to my left.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Just very briefly, Mr. Speaker, I do not think the Minister of Labour needs a particular defence in this matter. I think my colleague has brought in an excellent, a fair and a balanced bill.
Mr. Laughren: Sure, you would know.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I say to the member for Nickel Belt that if he is so unhappy he may vote against it. I just do not understand. I have listened to his colleagues tonight and on balance they favour the bill. He sits there and mumbles under his breath.
I just want to draw attention to one fact. Somehow the question of the compulsory payment of dues after the union is there has been a bit clouded tonight. I do not see how any member of this House can oppose the principle of paying your fee for your service. On the one hand, the Labour Relations Act of this province since the very beginning --
Mr. Nixon: Judge Rand was a Liberal.
Hon. Mr. Drea: So was your father and he sent the tanks to Oshawa.
Mr. Nixon: That, of course, is incorrect. Are you going to correct it?
Hon. Mr. Drea: Your father didn’t support Mr. Hepburn?
Mr. Nixon: He didn’t send the tanks to Ottawa.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Oshawa. Mr. Speaker, if I am guilty of exaggerating the role of the honourable member’s father in the episodes in Oshawa in the 1930s, which led to the demise of the Liberal Party in this province for years, then I withdraw the remark.
Mr. Nixon: Are you going to tell them about your experiences in Sudbury when the union kicked you out of town?
Hon. Mr. Drea: I think the member should withdraw that.
Mr. Nixon: Well, it is true.
Hon. Mr. Drea: No, it is not true and you know it.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, what do you think?
Mr. Speaker: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk can say what he likes within the confines of the rules of the House. The honourable member can deny it. I am not in a position to deny whether it is right. It is a matter of opinion.
Hon. Mr. Drea: The only point I wish to raise in the matter is that everybody else in society, when he receives a service, is expected to pay for it. The real estate agents in this province pay a fee for their licence. If they refuse to pay and want a free ride, they do not get a licence and they do not work. The same goes for the insurance agents in this province, the car dealers, and so on and so forth. Why the great concern about people who must receive a service, because the union is obligated to represent them under the law and indeed faces severe penalties if it does not represent them properly in terms of a grievance? Why should they be expected to get a free ride?
Mr. Speaker, that was the one remark I wanted to make. I also want to congratulate my colleague for bringing in a very balanced bill, a very progressive bill and indeed one that will lead to better labour relations in this province.
Mrs. Campbell: I would like to have a few words about this bill and, I think, to congratulate the minister on provoking in the House a great deal of misunderstanding about the position of this party with reference to the bill. There is no question that in the normal course in this Legislature, if a bill is presented, we or others in the House have the right to move an amendment if we consider the amendment might improve the bill. We had no knowledge of the government’s position that this was a package and that if we attempted to amend, the bill would be lost. I think it is important for the record that that be known in this House.
As far as I am concerned, and as my colleagues one and all have stated, the principle is one that we recognize as being long awaited and long overdue. However, we were of the opinion that there were certain elements in this bill that should not be accepted. We thus indicated an amendment that we thought would improve the bill.
I am appalled at the statements that have been made in this House tonight about my party, in which I too was included. I do not think anyone has worked harder in this field than I have, although it is true that I have not, recently in any event, been on a picket line. l recognize the problems of the Fotomat workers. In fact, I raised some of their problems in this House to the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), if the House will recall. It is not a lack of concern, but to me, to have the government proceed with this kind of procedure on a bill as important as this bill is simply frightful in my opinion.
We have been accused of trying to destroy the bill by bringing forward an amendment. It is sad that in the House, at this time, there is this kind of position taken by the government. To me, it is despicable that in order to achieve something that labour has wanted and needed for years, these tactics should have been used. It is to that that I address myself with reference to this debate tonight.
I do not think that all of those who spoke from the New Democratic Party were aware of the true situation. I think it is important that they know. We were not, under any circumstances, trying to kill this bill -- under no circumstances. But we read in the bill that what has happened here, first of all, as I see it, is that in a very real sense the workers have lost their opportunity for their own strategy in a strike situation. That has gone down the drain.
When we see that one of the participants has the right to make an offer and then to call upon the ministry to call for a vote, we do not quite understand that position, since, although I agree labour is not that happy with, I believe it is section 34(d), which gives to the minister the right to intervene, at least those with whom I have been speaking feel that that is better than the provision in this bill where the employer may intrude himself in this way in a strike position.
The right of virtually anyone to vote disturbs me as well. In a large union it might not be so important, but in a small unit it is quite possible to have people brought on to the line as strikebreakers. As we read the bill, there seems no question but that they would have the right to vote. Surely when we address ourselves to this very real concern, without the knowledge that the New Democrats have that this is a package, it is totally, utterly inequitable that we should be treated in this House as we were tonight.
There is no question and has been no question throughout this entire debate as to where the Liberal Party stands on the principle. Surely that has been made clear. I regret exceedingly that we should have been placed in this position this evening.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Rainy River.
Mr. Breaugh: This is the second time.
Mr. T. P. Reid: It is not the second time, Mr. Speaker, but we will ignore the interjections.
Mr. Speaker, probably one of the more interesting things that has happened tonight is the ability of people who are sitting in the public galleries to see the approach of the NDP in relation to labour-management relations and the legislation that is brought before the Legislature, and to see how they conduct themselves in the highest court of Ontario. I can say I find it personally objectionable and I believe the people in the galleries will remember well the way those people in the Socialist party have conducted themselves tonight.
I stand to support the principle of this bill. I had intended to speak much longer but I know there are many in the galleries who want to see this legislation get swift passage.
I have been involved in my constituency in the kind of dispute that revolves around the principle embodied in this bill, which is union security. I have seen people who voted and decided under the laws and regulations of Ontario that they wanted a union and yet they were not able to achieve that end because of a first contract that embodied the clause dealing with union security. I supported them at that point.
I have raised the matter in the Legislature; I have asked a question of the minister. I wrote him a letter in regard to this particular principle. It is ironic that the minister replied to me about a month ago or a month and a half ago saying he could not see bringing forth this legislation because it had not worked in British Columbia and he was not prepared to bring such legislation forth. I regret that I do not have that letter from the minister to read here tonight.
I want to say I support this bill. I do not intend to hold up the progress of the bill, but I want to express my concern about the allowance under section 3 of the bill to allow non-bargaining-unit employees to vote on a final offer. That concerns me greatly. I think they have no right to do so. They will not be employees. They are people who have been brought in on a short term. They don’t deserve to have the vote on the final offer.
I say in winding up that I intended to speak much longer on the bill but I support, and have supported for years, the principle of the bill. I hope to see that it gets speedy passage so that those people, some of whom are with us tonight, will be able to reap the benefits of this legislation.
Mr. Speaker: We have about one minute. Can the Minister of Labour wind up in that time?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if we might have unanimous consent of the House to sit for a few minutes beyond 10:30 so I might complete concluding my remarks?
Mr. Speaker: Do we have such consent?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: My remarks will be very brief. I don’t want to get into some of the things I might have had there been more time. What is the phrase in Saturday’s paper? Perhaps as a novice Labour minister, I can be forgiven if I don’t take long enough to cover the issues.
I think it has been very well expressed tonight by many members that this bill, whatever some may deem to be its shortcomings, has only one objective. That objective is the objective mentioned very clearly by the member for Cambridge, namely, to improve industrial relations within this province. Ontario is a province I am proud of and a province I think now has a labour relations climate that is the envy of all provinces in this country.
Someone asked how a Conservative can bring in a bill like this. That is not difficult for me since it was Sir John A. Macdonald who legalized trade unions in this country in 1874. He did it because he recognized there are some things in society that had to be reviewed and that where a problem existed it had to be dealt with.
That is what I see in my role as Labour minister, namely, to review collective bargaining and where I see strains or stresses in the system, to deal with them incrementally in order to try to achieve, perpetuate and improve, where needs be, a harmony that I think is very important in this province and in this country.
That is why this bill was introduced and why there is an effort to try to achieve an equitable balance in it. I think it is an equitable balance. It recognizes the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers.
I regret that the member for London North feels he was deprived of the opportunity of considering the issue. I don’t say this to be provocative, but I find that a little bit disturbing since he and I discussed this very issue in some detail in estimates last year in December. It has been an issue that has been raised in the House many times. It has been an issue I have spoken on and to which I have responded in public. I don’t think it is an issue that any of us considers as new. The member for Rainy River didn’t think it was a new issue when he wrote to me. The member for St. George didn’t think it was a new issue when she spoke to me out in the hall two weeks ago about her concern with regard to the Fotomat workers.
It is an issue that everyone thought about. If that wasn’t long enough, I apologize. I had no intention to deprive any member of this House of the opportunity of reviewing the issue thoughtfully, and I think each member has reviewed it thoughtfully. I find it difficult to feel that each and every one of us hasn’t had the opportunity to consider it, maybe for too long.
I have put before the House now a bill that I think is a balanced and equitable package. I do ask members to consider it very carefully and accept it for what it is because that is what it is. It is my view of what achieves that balance and what I see as a progressive step to endeavour to improve labour relations in the industrial climate in a province of which I am very proud.
Some members asked a couple of questions I think I should respond to. The first, if I may deal with it briefly, relates to a question the member for Hamilton East raised about the construction industry. I may say to him that the particular matter that I am sure he is referring to was brought to my attention this afternoon and is at present under consideration. When this bill goes to committee of the whole, as I will request it to, it will be an issue I will address myself to at that time. That is a matter that was brought to my attention and that I am looking at now.
The other issue he raised and that was raised by the suggested Liberal amendment relates to the question of who shall vote if management calls a vote on the last offer after a strike has commenced. I can appreciate that is a difficult problem. I wouldn’t want anybody to think it isn’t a problem we endeavoured to put our minds to at some earlier date. But I have to tell the House that after considering it very carefully, I was concerned about any rigid codification of the rules relating to who should vote because, frankly, we all know it will be different from day to day, week to week, month to month.
There will be some people who will resign from employment. I have seen it happen many times. They will no longer be part of the employee group employed at the time the strike commenced who would not return to employment should the strike be settled. Surely there has to be some leeway to allow for that sort of nuance and that sort of change which can occur from day to day and month to month.
Although some may not agree with it, there may be certain situations where there are replacement employees who, at the time of a proposed settlement, will have a permanent and continuing interest in employment; in that situation, others having resigned and left certain openings there.
I am not saying those situations will always be the same. I am saying that each situation has to be judged on its own merits. If there is evidence of a contest of opinions about who should vote, the act, as the members know from having read the section, gives the minister the power to direct that the vote shall take place on such terms as he considers necessary. Clearly, to my mind that gives me the leeway to direct the Ontario Labour Relations Board, when it conducts the vote, to make a careful tabulation of each person who votes so that in the event there is an application at a later date for relief by an employer, should a trade union feel it need not sign a collective agreement as a result of the vote, the labour relations board could review the whole issue and decide what the facts were in the situation before it in that particular case.
I think that is the appropriate way to deal with it, not to tie people’s hands with some rigid codified structure that will not meet the nuances that can develop during the course of the period of a strike. I would ask the members to support that position because it is an honest position that has come after careful thought and consideration of many of the issues the members raised here tonight. Again I would ask the House to support the bill.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
The House adjourned at 10:40 p.m.