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Statement on the first reading of Bill C-525

This summer, the Conservative government unleashed the latest wave in their ongoing attack on Canada’s democratic institutions. Bill C-525, like Bill C-377, is further evidence of a Conservative government bent on undermining Canada’s unions. We view this bill as part of a broader assault on our democracy that includes shutting down debates in Parliament to ram through legislation, muzzling government scientists, and intimidating civil society groups.

Much like Bill C-377, which will force over-the-top disclosure laws on our unions, Bill C-525 is a Republican-style attempt to destabilize Canada’s labour movement at a time when workers are still feeling the squeeze from the recession. It is another attack on the right of employees to organize and maintain unions that promote fairer wages and better workplace conditions for all Canadian workers.

Astonishingly, C-525 proposes that 51% of votes cast in favour of joining a union are no longer enough. 51% support from all prospective union members would be needed if this bill is passed. Ironically, C-525 would let a minority of the membership sign a petition to trigger a decertification vote. Is Mr. Calkins trying to suggest that the democratic voting regulations of our government are also too weak? Or is he simply trying to impose an unfair double standard on the labour movement?

Furthermore, by forcing a mandatory secret vote on employees who have already signed union cards, Bill C-525 makes the union certification process more difficult and would allow employers to intimidate employees and keep them away from the vote. This two-step process would also put federal labour law at odds with the labour relations rules in a number of Canada’s provinces where a “card check” of a majority of workers is enough to organize a union.

What’s worse, this new legislation hasn’t even been called for by employers. Until now, changes to the Canada Labour Code have been made by consensus, leading to a generally stable labour climate. Bill C-525 would negate decades of goodwill and cooperation just to score a few cheap political points. 

We condemn this undemocratic legislation, and hope to work with you in the coming months to organize against Bill C-525.