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Bruce, Caroline

Bad Union Politics

Monday night, Canada engages in a fedral election. As with most elections, the debate is heated, inflamatory, and strongly involves the blame game.

The primary union of federal civil servants is the Public Service alliance of Canada, or PSAC (pronounced "pee-sack". Recently, I have been hearing commercials on the radio put out by PSAC. While these commercials do not speak out in favor of a specific candidate, they do take very specific ain at the government of the day, led by prime minister Stephen Harper. It is not implied criticism, the prime minister is not hinted at, these are very specific references.

If I were a member of PSAC (and union membership in Canada is compulsery when there is a union available), I  would b upset by these ads, paid for by union dues. What if a union member is in favor of the government of the day? Is the union basically saying, "We're taking your money and spending it to deliver a message with which you disagree, and telling the world that you agree because we represent you"?

I work for a provincial governmental department. I have my opinions about the government of the day in Manitoba. The union of which I am required to be a member does not know what this opinion is, nor is it their business to know. If they put out a political message either in support or opposition of the government of the day, I would be angry, because they can't possibly claim to represent my political views, not being made aware of what those views are, and it is impossible that all those they claim to represent are unanimous in their political affiliations and opinions.

I am not a fan of unions. I accept that I am required to be a member, that's the law in my country, and I will obey it. But unions need to stay out of politics. What I choose to do with my money is my business; what the union leaders chooses to do with their personal money is their business. But what those leaders choose to do with <i>my</i> money is <i>my</i> business. I believe this to be true even if the union position meshes with my own, because it will not necessarily mesh with that of the next person. Just as CNIB claims to speak on my behalf but doesn't, so too, in the political sense, the unions seem to claim to speak on their members' behalf, but don't. I strongly believe this is wrong, it is abuse of the tremendous power that unions have over employers and employees alike, and it should not be allowed, in my personal opinion.

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