RADIA: BCTF dispute shows why Canada should outlaw public sector unions

Do public sector unions have a role to play in Canada?

The labour dispute involving British Columbia’s public school teachers is a perfect example of why we need to outlaw public sector unions in this country.

Left-wing commentators — including my colleague opposite — often argue against government privatization and tout the benefits of public services. They suggest that many services — health care, policing, education — are too critical to leave in the hands of the private sector. They also claim that the public realizes vast economic efficiencies when government takes on things such as transit and roadworks.

In theory, they are right. It’s Economics 101.

But when you bring unions into the picture, those benefits quickly evaporate.

If we all agree that services such as education, policing and health care are, in a literal sense, essential services that must be preserved without interruption or disruption, then why do we give workers in those sectors the right to strike?

If we’re trying to achieve economic efficiencies that benefit everybody, why do we give public sector workers the opportunity to raise salaries that take dollars out of taxpayers’ pockets?

To be clear, this isn’t an exercise in union bashing. I appreciate that, historically, labour groups have helped enshrine safety, fairness and dignity in the workplace. For that, we should all be grateful.

But to me, it seems public sector unions have other, less altruistic causes these days.

Throughout the country, public sector unions are increasingly being used as political action committees fighting against the election of right-wing governments that might put downward pressure on their members’ wages and benefits.

This was evident in the recent Ontario election, when a group of public sector unions banded together to create television ads criticizing that province’s Progressive Conservatives.

Federally, public sector unions are already setting aside funds to campaign against Stephen Harper and the Conservatives in the 2015 election.

In other words, our tax dollars are being used to fund higher-than-average salaries from which union dues are taken to battle the big bad Tories.

Somehow, that doesn’t seem right.

In 2014, unionization of the public workforce is counter-productive, counter-intuitive and not in the public’s interest.




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