Why is Brad Wall attacking Unions and what does it mean to everyone who works in Saskatchwan

A letter to the editor to the Estevan Mercury newspaper from Alan Murray regarding the upcoming review of Saskatchewan Labour laws

My wife and I sat in the car outside our polling station this last provincial election and discussed how each of us would cast our vote. Not being very involved in politics, but strongly believing in the importance of exercising her right to vote, she wanted to know why I was choosing to vote for the NDP, when her choice was otherwise. This is what I told her:

I really feel there is no good choice. I am voting for the NDP because I feel they are the better of the two evils. I don’t like the NDP’s platform, spending like wild men, similar to the old Conservative ways of the past Grant Devine era, but I feel better about that than the Saskatchewan Party option.

I explained how I like many of the things Brad Wall is putting out front in his campaign, but it is the hidden issues I believe are coming and he is not telling us about them. What I like is the responsible spending of our money, commitment to health care and even the essential service legislation, it just needs a dispute mechanism, as the courts have ruled, and it is good to go. What I am afraid of, is Brad’s personal attack on unions and how this is going to affect the Saskatchewan labour laws.

You can only imagine the look on my wife’s face after CTV News Wednesday night, when they aired their report about the labour laws Brad and his party are going to review and how they focused on unions. Sometimes it is not good to be right.

Let me explain my view on unions. I believe that the union acts as my lawyer when it comes to my rights under the Saskatchewan labour laws and the contract I have with my employer. My union dues are the insurance premium I pay in case I need this service. Just like any agreement, sometimes this works in my favour and sometimes it does not, I am neither being screwed over, nor am I taking advantage of the company, it is what I agreed to do in return for compensation. It is just that simple. Many unorganized workers or employers think unions protect members that are lazy. When I hear this, I think the employer/manager is too lazy to do their job and follow the labour laws and the contract in place to terminate that employee; anyone can be fired for the right reason.

So why am I writing this letter? I don’t want all of us to pay the price for a personal fight between two people. I am referring to Bob Bymoen of the Saskatchewan Government Employees Union and Premier Brad Wall of the Saskatchewan Party.

The issue, Bob spending his members money on TV advertising, to try and screw over Brad and get Saskatchewan voters to not vote for the Saskatchewan Party. Brad is now going to exercise his power that Saskatchewan voters gave him, to spend our money and change the labour laws that have taken years to develop, just to screw Bob over.

Brad is accusing Bob of spending union money for his own agenda, without union members support. If this is the case, the SGEU members have rules in their constitution to deal with this situation. Remember, anyone can be fired for the right reason.

Brad is telling us that he feels he needs to weigh-in and protect the SGEU union members. How grand of him, right? His proposal is to let union members opt out of paying union dues. Do you think this will make the unions more accountable? I think not. If you did not have to pay your house fire insurance dues and still get the benefits if your house burned down, you would be an idiot to pay your insurance premiums. How long do you think insurance companies would stay in business?
This is not Brad looking after union members, this Brad taking down unions. Really, if Brad thinks this is going to make unions more accountable, then apply his plan to members, (residents), of the province of Saskatchewan. If I do not feel that the Saskatchewan Party is operating in my best interest and being accountable, I should not have to pay provincial taxes, and don’t forget, I still want my health care, roads fixed and all the other good things the government provides for me.

If this were the case, how many of us would still pay our taxes? How long would the Sask. Party be able to operate the province with the same rules Brad wants to impose on the unions? Please do not be blinded by the smokescreen that is being put up by Brad Wall for his hidden agenda.

These labour laws are what make Saskatchewan and Canada a great place to work and live. I am afraid that we will be turning back the clock in history by making changes to our labour laws and I hope we will not have to repeat an experience similar to the 1931 riots in Estevan, that claimed the lives of three coal miners, before for we realize the mistake we could be making.

If you are not a union member, you might think this is not my issue, but be very aware we are all a part of labour and these pending changes will eventually affect you. Make sure you take the time to be educated on the upcoming review process and participate in it. That is all I ask.

Alan Murray,
Estevan, Sask.